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A reissue of the set that was originally released as a long box and has been unavailable for several years.

In the thirties Elmore James was playing guitar for dimes in the juke joints around Belzoni, smack dab in the middle of the Delta. He was learning slide guitar from the records of Oscar Woods, Kokomo Arnold and Robert Nighthawk but one night, he ran into Robert Johnson and that was it! As soon as he heard "Dust My Broom" he adopted it as his own, re-working the walking bass lines, and updating the roaring guitar lick until it suited his new fangled electric guitar style to a tee.

He continued to tour the jukes, developing friendships with Willie Love, Robert Lockwood and Sonny Boy Williamson who asked Elmore to Trumpet's studio to play guitar on his records "Eyesight To the Blind" and "Crazy About You Baby".  A few months later Elmore and Sonny Boy recorded the hugely successful "Dust My Broom" attracting the attention of big Hollywood record men the Bihari brothers, who signed up Elmore and set about recording every song he knew.

This was 1952 and from then until early 1956 they recorded all the great songs contained in this box set including the stuff he did on sessions with Johnny Jones and Bep Brown's Orchestra. You get everything Elmore had to offer. The sheer intensity of his vocals, the raw, distorted tone of his electric guitar and the dramatic, slashing, screaming slide work that was to influence and astonish everyone from his disciples Hound Dog Taylor and J.B.Hutto to Keith Richard, Jeremy Spence, George Thorogood and any kid who ever thought of playing blues guitar.

The set contains every single existing master he made for Flair, Modern and Meteor, complete with studio chat, the false starts and alternate takes that make this such a fascinating document. The 40 page booklet is an absolute stonker filled with compiler Ray Topping's excellent notes on Elmore's life, his music and it's impact and influence, his time in Canton, Mississippi, a full discography plus a listing of his singles releases and his Crown and Kent albums on CD. 

This box overflows with great material - crammed full of stupendous blues music from one of the most important guitarists in the blues. It's an essential purchase...especially at our nice low price.


Review Date: September 2008

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