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Various Artists: Blues Classics

MCA has its pick of the catalogs of Chess, ABC, Decca, Duke, Peacock and pre-1932 Vocalion and Brunswick and has made a Valiant effort to package the best of them in this three-CD, three and one-half hour compilation. Of the 72 tracks selected, there is a batch of genuine blues classics-primarily on the last two discs that span 1940-69 and contain Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” “Long Distance Call,” “Hoochie Coochie Man” and his 1960 Newport Jazz Festival version of “Got My Mojo Working;” Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning,” “Killing Floor,” “Red Rooster” and “I Ain’t Superstitious;” and Little Walter’s “Juke” and “My Babe.”

Throw in a couple of fine Sonny Boy Williamsons and Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog,” Koko Taylor’s “Wang Dang Doodle” (which outsold Wolf’s version), Bo Diddley’s “I’m a Man” and Lowell Fulson’s “Reconsider Baby” and you’ve skimmed the best. That’s not to say there isn’t a terrific amount of excellent blues left, however. Louis Jordan’s Tympany Five show up twice (no “Caldonia,” though); Dinah Washington (with Lionel Hampton’s Septet) knocks out “Evil Gal Rules;” Bobby Blue Bland (with Wayne Bennett) gives us “Stormy Monday Blues” and Gatemouth Brown roars through “Okie Dokie Stomp.”

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