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Jasmine (JASMCD3039)

Few bluesmen can claim to have written a song that becomes an instant classic on release and proceeds to be covered by incalculable bluesmen thereafter. Eddie Boyd achieved this feat with Five Long Years in 1951 and it is for this record that he is best remembered today, but there were plenty of other superbly crafted and played recordings worthy of attention.

Fortunately for us, 52 of these are now compiled here,  tracing his evolution as a blues pianist just up from the south and finding his way around early 1940s Chicago through to his times with Chess and later Bea & Baby in the 1950s. The first tracks on the first CD come from sessions in the late 1940s with ‘Bluebird' producer Lester Melrose which were decent enough but didn't provide Eddie with any real scope to present the individual style that he was developing.

By the early 1950s Eddie had been snapped up by Chess (seemingly without his consent) and he steadily started turning out high quality piano-driven Chicago blues classics, not just Five Long Years but also other big-sellers such as Third Degree and 24 Hours. Listening to these here, alongside many of the lesser-known but no less impressive tracks, it is positively bizarre that they have not been as widely available as the recordings of the other great bluesmen on the Chess roster in the 1950s. While CDs of Eddie's recordings in Europe in the 1960s (where he regularly visited and eventually settled) have long been available, this material that made his name in the first place has never been easy to find in the CD era.

So, a big well done to Jasmine for getting these excellent and important sides onto CD. They fill an important gap in my record collection - and presumably will in yours also.

Review Date: January 2014

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