The legendary duo Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee was a veritable museum of folk-blues. Guitar, song and bluesharp join together in a richly varied interplay to form one of the most important sources of rhythm & blues.
Although undoubtedly an expensive acquisition, this ten-CD set is perfectly done and contains dozens of gems. The remarkable but short-lived trumpeter Clifford Brown has the second half of his career fully documented (other than his final performance) and he is showcased in a wide variety of settings. The bulk of the numbers are of Brownie's quintet with co-leader and drummer Max Roach, either Harold Land or Sonny Rollins on tenor, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow (including some previously unheard alternate takes), but there is also much more.
In a way, this is the veteran duo's version of Fathers and Sons, a meeting of old black bluesmen with young white admirers that Muddy Waters and Otis Spann cut with Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield…
Singer/Guitarist Brownie McGhee and his life-long musical partner, blind harp-man, Sonny Terry are best known as champions of the "Piedmont"-style blues pioneered by artists such as Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell and Blind Boy Fuller. In the 1960s, they became icons of the folk-blues revival. The recording presented here however showcase a different chapter of the story. This is a collection of raw and rocking jump blues cut between 1947 and 1955 for juke boxes in black beer joints and dancehalls by the New Jersey-based Savoy Record company. Essential blues recordings from two of the genres' most revered artists.
Brownie's brother Stick McGhee had a hit or two to his name, and the two brothers split the 105 tracks on this boxed set between them (with some tracks from Brownie's longtime partner Sonny Terry)! Includes Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee; Tennessee Waltz Blues; Wee Wee Hours Pts. 1 & 2; Little Things We Used to Do Stick McGhee; Mean Ole Frisco; Key to the Highway; C.C. Rider, Where Did She Go Brownie McGhee; Mad Man Blues; Harmonica Train Sonny Terry, and more.
Country Blues Troubadours contains 125 tracks, spread out over five CD's, tracing blind harpist Sonny Terry and guitarist Brownie McGhee's earliest recordings between 1938 and 1948. JSP not only does an admirable job remastering the tracks, but providing recording dates, personnel, and a bit of history that is easily accessible in individual jewel cases, as opposed to a bulky booklet. Recorded in New York and Chicago, the Piedmont duo encounter, both separately and collectively, blues, jazz, and R&B veterans including Washboard Slim, Baby Dodds, Curley Russell, Hal "Cornbread" Singer, Gene Ramey, Big Chief Ellis, Blind Boy Fuller, Stick McGhee, and Champion Jack Dupree. The discs are divided into five themes: "Getting started and getting around," "Blind Boy Fuller and what followed," "Library of Congress and living with Leadbelly," "New York residents and established artists," and "Mainly Brownie and an interlude with Champion Jack." As far as budget-blues box sets are concerned, this is one of the best.