Various Artists – Confessin’ the Blues
2 CDs/41 tracks total
This Blues compilation by BMG is touted as selections picked by The Rolling Stones as representing the genre that gave them their start. The cover art is a hand painting by Ronnie Woods and the booklet with the set is penned by music writer Colin Larkin. 10% of the receipts for the set go to Willie Dixon’s Blues Foundation. “The Blues. It’s probably the most important thing America has given the world.” is inscribed within and on the back cover, a quote by Keith Richards.
The lineup here is not necessarily the absolute biggest hits from each artist, but something that well represents what the blues is all about from them. Muddy Waters is represented with four tracks, of course including the song that gave the Stones their start as opener. “Rolling Stone,” “I Want To Be Loved,” “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” and “Mannish Boy” give us a representative taste of Muddy and what the Stones liked best about him. Howlin’ Wolf also gets four of his cuts represented, “Little Red Rooster,” “Commit A Crime,” “Just Like I Treat You,” and “Little Baby.” The set’s title comes from Jay McShann & Walter Brown’s classic tune and it is used to close out the first CD.
Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Walter, Elmore James, Eddie Taylor and Robert Johnson each get a pair of tunes apiece included. The RJ cuts are beautifully restored and clean from the most recent restoration. “Love In Vain Blues” and “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” are the two from the early Delta master.
Magic Sam’s “All Your Love” is included on the first CD as is Slim Harpo’s “King Bee.” Otis Rush’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby” is also on the first CD as are cuts by John Lee Hooker, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Little Johnny Taylor and Big Maceo.
The second CD has the ten minute “The Prodigal Son” by the Rev. Robert Wilkins right in the middle of it. Boy Blue’s “Boogie Children” and BB King’s first version of “Rock Me Baby” are included along with tunes by Jimmy Reed, Billy Boy Arnold, Dale Hawkins, and Amos Milburn.
While seasoned blues fans will likely have these tunes in their collections, it is a nice compilation on two CDs, two LPs and 5-10 inch records resembling 78’s. The book inside includes a nice history and bios on all the artists. Newer blues fans and even folks new to the blues based on the Stones’ latest album Blue and Lonesome will get a nice introduction to the genre that was the first musical form to arise in the States.
I first listened to the set in my car on the road. It’s perfect for that as you get a nice dose of classics by some of the greatest blues artists ever. Take this one as you travel to the next festival or big blues event to get you in the right mindset- these tunes and all the artists are both great and a lot of fun to listen to. Newbies to the blues should surely run out and buy this as a great indoctrination to the music that influenced everything we listen to today. I enjoyed this and any blues fan will, too!