In 1920s St. Louis, barrelhouse piano stylings served as the foundation for a variety of artists' personalized blues, which were often spiced with racy lyrics. As a result, this 23-track collection offers much more than just propulsive pianos bouncing through eight beats to the bar. Henry Brown's title cut, complete with some scat singing and a terrific trombone solo, is a good example, but vocalists such as Mary Johnson, on "Black Men Blues" and two other gems, entertainingly embellish the proceedings to produce an insightful overview of the early blues scene. Roosevelt Sykes, who contributes "Drinkin' Woman Blues," and multi-instrumentalist Peetie Wheatstraw, who performs "Ice and Snow Blues," are the best known of the pioneer pianists on this collection. But Stump Johnson, who appears on three tunes, including the bawdy blues "Don't Give My Lard Away," and the Sparks Brothers, Mississippi-born twins who contribute four tracks, dominate the collection with their easy-rolling keyboard expertise and streetwise lyrics. --Michael Point
NR (Not Rated)
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