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Boulevard Vintage (BVDCD1033)

100 classic blues tracks featuring Floyd Jones, Eddie Burns, Little Walter, Johnny Shines,, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Nighthawk, Frankie Lee Sims, Buddy Chiles, Leroy Johnson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Pee Wee Hughes, Bobo Thomas, Willie Love, Earl Hooker, Hank Kilroy, Pinetop Slim, Gabriel Brown, Dan Pickett, Johnny Beck, Dr Hepcat, Clarence London, Brownie McGhee, Jimmy DeBerry, Eddie ’Guitar Slim’ Jones and many more….

When first issued in 2004, this set quickly became seen as one of the most significant (and best) collections of post-war blues released on CD to date. Featuring 100 cracking sides, and taking in some of the most significant regional styles (as represented with a CD each given over to ‘Chicago and Detroit’, ‘Texas’, ‘Memphis & The South’ and New York And The East Coast States’), this set included mostly lesser known and rarely anthologised sides, alongside a smaller number of better known artists and their well known classic sides,

The success of this set at the time subsequently spawned other well-received and big-selling releases delving deeper into the regions of Chicago, Texas, Memphis, California and elsewhere.

Over time however these sets mysteriously fell out of circulation and became harder and harder to find and eventually highly sought after items.

Thankfully this has now been rectified with this new re-issue, and at a new (amazingly) low price. So, if you missed out on this excellent set when first issued and have been reluctant to pay through the nose to correct the situation, here’s your big chance.

The ‘Chicago And Detroit’ CD perhaps has the highest proportion of familiar material, including classic sides by Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers and John Lee Hooker. But there are also many excellent rarities to explore here, from the likes of Morris Pejoe, Robert Henry, Little Hudson and Rocky Fuller.

The ‘New York & East Coast States’ CD includes not just the most rarities but also the most variety of musical style, from the classic pre-war sounds of Marylyn Scott’s saucy I Got What My Daddy Likes and John Lee’s Bukka White-like guitar on Blinds Blues through to Doug Quattlebaum’s near rockabilly of Lizzie Lou and R&B balladeering of Willie Baker’s Rumors About My Baby.

On the ‘Memphis & The South’ CD there are some splendid sides you should already know from Howlin’ Wolf, Big Joe Williams, Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson alongside many fine numbers that may have passed you by - Luther Huff’s jaunty 1951 Blues, Stick Horse Hammond’s Too Late Baby and Bobo Thomas’ version of Catfish Blues are just a few highlights here worth following up on.

The final disc, ‘Texas’, unsurprisingly includes stirring tracks from Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lil’ Son Jackson and Alex Moore but I have been particularly enjoying Thunder Smith’s rollicking piano on Little Mama Boogie, Leroy Johnson’s no-frills No One To Love Me and Andy Thomas’ Angel Chile (a number that Mississippi Fred McDowell later did marvellous things with).

The subsequent Chicago and Texas sets have already been recently re-released themselves and in advance of this set (see BVDCD1031 and BVDCD1032). If you buy one you will almost certainly want to get all three. But, as this was the original release that introduced the series, this really is the best place to start.

Review Date: January 2016

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