Various – 20th Anniversary Collection – 2CD
This second Earwig blues collection celebrates the 20th anniversary since producer and CEO Michael Frank began the label by taking Frank Frost, Sam Carr, and Jack Johnson -The Jelly Roll Kings-into a Memphis studio to record Earwig's first album, Rockin the Juke Joint Down, in 1979. During its first fifteen years, Earwig concentrated on seminal figures in the history of the blues: elder bluesmen under-represented in recordings and live performance-artists such as Honeyboy Edwards, Sunnyland Slim, Homesick James, H-Bomb Ferguson, and Louisiana Red. Earwig also made the first album recordings of Lester Davenport, Aron Burton, Lovie Lee, Big Jack Johnson, and John Primer as bandleaders rather than as sidemen.
In the past five years Earwig has released debut albums by Chicago's blues diva Liz Mandville Greeson, South Side sould blues singer Johnny Drummer, and Detroit's Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones. Jones won a Handy Award and Living Blues' Critics Poll as Best New Artist. Earwig has also specialized in putting together band combinations not found on other labels-Lil Ed with Willie Kent and Eddie C. Campbell; Louisiana Red-in his first American album in almost twenty years-with Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on harmonica; and Honeyboy Edwards with Carey Bell. This generous double CD features cuts from every Earwig artist, and original songs by these artists not found on other labels.
1. Jelly Roll Stroll - The Jelly Roll Kings - 2:29 2. Mr. Freddie Blues - Floyd Jones - 3:38 3. Long Ways from Home - Jim Brewer - 3:21 4. You Can Have My Woman - Big Jack Johnson - 2:27 5. Gonna Put Her Down - Frank Frost - 3:11 6. Patience Like Job - Sunnyland Slim - 4:09 7. Daddy, When Is Mama Comin Home? - Big Jack Johnson - 7:59 8. Hard, Oh Lord - Little Brother Montgomery - 4:08 9. Wiggle Tail - Louis Myers - 5:49 10. Beetin Knockin Ringin - Jimmy Dawkins - 7:10 11. The Army Blues - David Honeyboy Edwards - 3:50 12. Slow Down Baby - Lester Davenport - 5:58 13. Lawhorn Special - John Primer - 4:05 14. Leavin' You Tomorrow - H-Bomb Ferguson - 5:52 15. Trouble - Aron Burton - 3:58
1. Tell Me That You Love Me - Lovie Lee - 5:44 2. What Done Got into That Woman - Homesick James Williamson - 5:04 3. 69th Street Bounce - Willie Anderson - 3:30 4. Please Mr. Catfish - Big Leon Brooks - 4:11 5. Parole Blues - Louisiana Red - 3:12 6. I'm Just a Natural Man - Aron Burton - 4:28 7. North Carolina Bound - Lil Ed / Lil' Ed / Dave Weld - 4:58 8. You Can't Call the Blues - Johnny Yard Dog Jones - 4:51 9. Life Sentence of the Blues - Liz Mandville Greeson - 4:11 10. Every Now and Then - Carey Bell / David Honeyboy Edwards - 4:12 11. I Wanna Get Married - Willie Kent - 5:07 12. She Got a Thing Goin' On - Bonnie Lee / Sunnyland Slim - 2:31 13. Red's Vision - Louisiana Red - 5:49 14. I Wanna Get in Your Head, Before I Get in Your Bed - Johnny Drummer - 4:10 15. The Friendly Stranger - Liz Mandville Greeson - 4:55 16. Millennium Blues - Louisiana Red - 5:27
1. AllMusic - Scott Yanow
Since its formation in the late '70s, Earwig has been one of the top blues labels even if it has generally been overshadowed by such giants as Alligator, Blind Pig and Delmark. A former employee of Bob Koester (the head of Delmark), Michael Robert Frank was inspired to start his own label. In the years since, he has recorded many top unsung blues artists, as can be heard on this superlative two-CD sampler, Earwig 20th Anniversary Collection. Rather than filling in the set with a lot of tracks that are actually R&B, soul, or blues ballads, the emphasis throughout this two-fer is on the blues itself. Occasional instrumentals, spirited vocals, rocking electric blues, some more intimate acoustic country blues, and even a lone track from 1942 (David Honeyboy Edwards' "The Army Blues") are all included on this well-conceived package. Virtually every selection is a high point, for the tracks were well-chosen, so pick up this sampler and enjoy a perusal through the riches of the Earwig catalog. There are many talented blues artists to discover.
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