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Music Reviews

ESSENTIAL BLUES HARMONICA (2 CDs - House Of Blues/Platinum Entertainment 51416 1300 2)

If you like harmonica-driven blues, and havenít already invested thousands of dollars in your blues collection, this release is a great place to start. It collects significant contributions from some 31 different artists and, over the course of the 2 discs, showcases the various styles of blues harmonica. The selected tracks run the gamut from the earliest blues harmonica classics all the way to contemporary tracks. Itís a great way to get your blues feet wet at a very reasonable price. Itís very likely that youíll wish to explore further recordings by the artists which you find to be your personal favorites here.

This is a compilation of classic tracks so the quality of the chosen performances shouldnít be an issue, and it certainly isnít here. The sound quality varies with the dates of the particular recordings but overall the entire release is excellent. The packaging is also well done and includes an essay on the history of blues harmonica. If youíre already a blues veteran it wonít tell you anything that you donít already know but it does serve as a good introduction for the novice listener.

My favorite tracks would include Sonny Boy Williamsonís classic "Good Morning School Girl", Charlie Musselwhiteís "The Blues Overtook Me", the rockiní blues of William Clarkeís "Must Be Jelly", James Cottonís "Cotton Crop Blues", and Kenny Nealís "Going To The Country" among others. Thereís plenty here for everyoneís tastes.

This is just one release in the whole House Of Blues collection so jump on in and discover the blues. If harmonica isnít to your liking thereís probably another collection aimed at your particular interest as well. Iíve heard several releases from the series and havenít been disappointed yet.