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One of my regrets is I never did get to record Scrapper and Shirley playing together, and they played very, very well together - Art Rosenbaum talks about Scrapper Blackwell and Shirley Griffith, Big Road Blues radio show, January 2010

Author Topic: Allen Lowe compilations: "Really the Blues?"; That Devilin Tune  (Read 2689 times)

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Offline automaton

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Allen Lowe compilations: "Really the Blues?"; That Devilin Tune
« on: January 23, 2012, 02:08:21 PM »
Allen Lowe (a musician and writer) has produced a number of what appear to be carefully curated anthologies of American music.  There is a 4 part series on "Jazz" (9 cd's per set), and a proposed four part series on "blues" (one has been released so far, also 9 cd's per set).  There was also a series on pop music which is now out of print.  Links below to the first in each series (I am not affiliated in any way).

http://www.amazon.com/That-Devilin-Tune-History-1895-1927/dp/B000F1IOGG

http://www.amazon.com/Really-Blues-History-1893-59-4/dp/B0034JKZC2/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1327356333&sr=1-1

There sets look very interesting to me as a means of discovering new artists, which is something I love (I have found the Harry Smith and George Mitchell anthologies to be excellent for this).  I also like the idea of being taken through someone's idea of an "anthology," even if I don't always agree with the selections.  The sets appear to be a mammoth labour of love.

They aren't that cheap though (except on a per song basis) so I am interested in comments from people who have them first.  I haven't been able to find that many reviews of these sets.

Does anyone own these?  Any comments on the sound quality, and the selections, on these discs?  (There is criticism on the internet that the Jazz sets include tracks by artists that are not generally considered to be "Jazz" artists, such as Merle Travis - but that kind of diversity is a bonus for me rather than a negative.

Any comments are very welsome.  If I leap in I am thinking of starting with the second or third set in the Jazz series.

[Edited to correct title per post below].
« Last Edit: January 23, 2012, 06:28:56 PM by automaton »

Offline oddenda

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Re: Allen Lowe compilations: Really the Blues; That Devilin Tune
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2012, 05:43:01 PM »
Firstly, you left out an important part of the title, which is "REALLY THE BLUES?" subtitled as "A Blues History". The question mark is VERY important in the title, as is the indefinite article beginning the subtitle. As with his jazz set and pop set, a very broad brush is used so that temporally contemporary stuff is included that may have a blues tinge or influence either way. The selections are all in good sound, save one 19th Century cylinder, and are thought-provoking. Considering that the set includes NINE CDs with on average 25 selections/disc, the price is quite reasonable. Such packages are hardly massive money-spinners for the small outfits that issue them!

pbl

Offline TonyGilroy

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Re: Allen Lowe compilations: "Really the Blues?"; That Devilin Tune
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2012, 12:30:41 AM »

I've got these and I'm happy to recommend them.

The range is extraordinary and one of my reasons for buying was that many artists excluded from the jazz and blues discographies are included. Some seem random but some make you think. I don't now think, for example, that Sophie Tucker was much less bluesy than Mamie Smith.

If this was just another run through of already issued mainstream recordings it would be a waste of time and money but the range is so wide that you get to hear music you wouldn't otherwise listen to and maybe reconsider it.

Lowe possibly has a bias towards white jazz but largely because much of it has been downgraded as not being somehow genuine. You don't have to agree but the evidence is being presented.

There are some live pieces and some whose origins I haven't been able to trace. The track details given are very basic and sometimes even wrong without any proper discographical notation in the jazz series but even that meant I had to go looking which could sometimes be interesting.

I'd start with the earliest jazz box because some of the very early stuff is truly revelatory.

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