Various Artists - Beyond Mississippi

Beyond Mississippi, a compilation with the sub-title 'The Blues That Left Town' is not jut yet another blues compilation of the familiar legendary performers. The theme of this double CD collection is to put the spotlight on not just artists which are 'pure blues', not just artists that are well known, but through it's thirty five tracks illustrates many different approaches to the blues. This journey starts in the early part of the 20th century right through to former Grandmaster Flash sideman Skip McDonald and producer Adrian Sherwood under the Little Ace banner giving hip-hop treatment to Junior Kimborough on All Night Party.

Blues persons from the early years of the blues are Charley Patton, Memphis Minnie, The Reverend Gary Davies, who really was Revered performing live at the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival. One of the collections most atmospheric tracks is Odea Matthews recorded, backed by the rhythmic sound of her sewing machine, in 1959 in the workshop of the infamous Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary.

There is a sprinkling of wonderful gospel performances from the likes of Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Thorpe and The Golden Gate Quartet with Preacher And The Bear, a recording which falls into that category 'one of the first rap records'. Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and Albert King are all represented by some of the less obvious examples of their repertoire.

Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Dr John, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits are not names you immediately think of as blues singers, but the blues has been a huge influence on their work.

This is a most enjoyable compilations and there is obviously the need for further volumes. I mean on this one, John Lee Hooker, BB King, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James to name just a few from the legendary box are not here. Taj Mahal isn't here, unlike the excellent Corey Hams, who he clearly influenced. And of course Captain Beefheart, would Tom Waits have produced a track like "Filipino Box Spring hog" if Don Van Vliete has not invented Captain Beefheart. Roll on the next volume.

Derek McCann

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