Her mountainous stature matching the sheer soulful power of her massive vocal talent, Big Maybelle was one of the premier R&B chanteuses of the 1950s. Her deep, gravelly voice was as singular as her recorded output for Okeh and Savoy, which ranged from down-in-the-alley blues to pop-slanted ballads. In 1967, she even covered ? & the Mysterians' "96 Tears" (it was her final chart appearance). Alleged drug addiction leveled the mighty belter at the premature age of 47, but Maybelle packed a lot of living into her shortened lifespan.
This 52-disc (no, that is not a typo) comp, ABC of the Blues: The Ultimate Collection from the Delta to the Big Cities, may just indeed live up to its name. There are 98 artists represented , performing 1,040 tracks. The music begins at the beginning (though the set is not sequenced chronologically) with Charlie Patton, Son House, and Robert Johnson, and moves all the way through the vintage Chicago years of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, with stops along the way in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, New York, and all points in between. Certainly, some of these artists are considered more rhythm & blues than purely blues artists: the inclusion of music by Johnny Otis, Wynonie Harris, Bo Diddley, and others makes that clear…
A genre that influenced a variety of artists from Shaking Stevens to Robert Plant this is a music of the highest order. Jump, jive, jazz, blues… Stop analysing and start enjoying this treasure trove of influential tracks from American music s golden age. You may not have heard some of it before, but you can bet your heroes have!
A bombastic party courtesy of Legacy Records. The festivities begin with an unedited "Wake Up Everybody" by Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, flows into Isley, Jasper, Isley's "Caravan of Love," and then switches to adult theme ballads, the stature of "Me & Mrs. Jones," "Kiss and Say Goodbye," and Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine." Brenda & the Tabulations' breezy but despairing "One Girl Too Late" is delightful. The Intruders' "Cowboy to Girls" and Major Lance's calypso-ish "Hey Little Girl" are irresistible. Includes Labelle's potent "Lady Marmalade" and MFSB's contagious, six-plus minute "Love Is the Message."