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Various Artists: Blues Men

On the first set’s first disc, Chicago Blues Band, John Lee Hooker delivers a superior performance. It clearly dates back a few years, for he sounds powerful and, as always, committed to an irresistible and unrelenting beat. Sunnyland Slim, Willie Dixon, Johnny Shines and Clifton James are also featured on several selections. The second disc, Blues Festival, features Cousin Joe, Lonnie Johnson, Victoria Spivey, Otis Spann and Muddy Waters, with honors going to the first two. Cousin Joe, a dedicated bluesman, was always noted for lyrics, such as the line about a meanie who wouldn’t “give a crippled crab a crutch”. Lonnie Johnson’s voice and pretty guitar still have the attractive individuality that accounted for his early influence on T-Bone Walker, who is not at his best on the third disc, Blues Collective. Several tracks by Cleanhead Vinson, however, are splendid examples of that outstanding blues-singer-saxophonist’s work.

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