The argument will forever rage, but Memphis, Tennessee, is as much the fountainhead of rock ’n’ roll as is Cleveland, Ohio. Whilst the north had Alan Freed as its turntable champion, the south was blessed with the madcap deejay, Dewey Phillips. Chances are, ole Dewey would have played most of the 75 titles that go to make up Raunchy Sugar on his Red Hot and Blue show that aired over WHBQ in Memphis.During the 1950s the city was alive with labels, record hops, musicians and the general chaos that goes hand in hand with the big beat. The geographical lie of the land helped a great deal, because the city was central to so many rural areas that harboured musical talent and style. Carl Perkins and Carl Mann gravitated to the area from Jackson, Tennessee, Billy Riley and Conway Twitty did the same from Arkansas, and Elvis Presley hit the trail from Mississippi in order to soak up some of that unique Shelby County action. Outside of Sam Phillips’ legendary Sun Records, the labels included such names as Hi, Cover, Fernwood, Meteor, Vaden Moon and Satellite.
Memphis Minnie held her own in a genre famous for its casualties, and as a blues guitarist, few players in the 1920s could cut her, and that, coupled with Minnie's natural showmanship and a penchant for marrying her guitar duet partners (Casey Bill Weldon, Kansas Joe McCoy, Ernest Lawlars), makes her one of the most colorful figures in blues history. This set brings together key tracks that she recorded for Columbia Records between 1933 and 1937, but it's just a small part of this musician's prolific recording catalog (she also recorded for the Bluebird, OKeh, Vocalion, Regal, Checker, and JOB imprints during her four-decade career). The sound is good, though, which makes this a nice place to start.
This unusual set includes Davis's first recording session and his initial date as a leader. The former is more historical than musical: four blues featuring singer Rubberlegs Williams, Herbie Fields's tenor and the noticeably nervous 18-year-old trumpeter who is actually only heard in ensembles. The latter recording finds him much more confident in 1947, heading the Charlie Parker Quintet (with Bird switching to tenor) on "Milestones," "Little Willie Leaps," "Half Nelson" and "Sippin' at Bells"; All of the alternate takes (both complete and partial) are included from both sessions. Since the later date has also been reissued on various Charlie Parker collections, this set is more for completists than for general listeners.
This box set contains 82 tracks recorded by Miles Davis between 1945 and 1950. Miles' spark of genius was already apparent right from the start, and it's clear after listening to this set why Prestige gave him a lucrative recording contract which he would fulfill from 1951-1956 on his way to super-stardom. His distinctive sound on the trumpet is unmistakable here, even as a twenty year old…a sound that would delight the world for decades! This set is solid gold, filled with nuggets of beautiful jazz from start to finish. Many people may be content to limit their early Miles Davis collection to the Complete Birth Of The Cool CD, and that's fine, but you'll be missing out on lots of great music from one of the finest jazz artists of the 20th century!! The sound quality on this box set is great, save for a handful of recordings that are a little garbled but were included anyway because the playing is so beautiful.