Mississippi born and raised, Elmore James learned his trade in the Delta in the 1930s, emerging in the early 1950s as the godfather of modern electric guitar, and no guitarist who ever plugged an instrument into an amp is free of his influence. Not only did he create the template for electric slide players everywhere, he also reworked his amps until they delivered a raw, overdriven sound that became endemic in pop and rock music a decade later, and no punk band ever sounded more ragged or passionate than Elmore James in full stride. James recorded for some dozen labels during his short recording career (he died in 1963 of a heart attack at the age of 45), and he is one of those rare artists whose recorded output was seamless from the first to the last. His first recording, one of many versions he would do of Robert Johnson's "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom," was made for Lillian McMurray's Trumpet label in 1951, and the raw power, swooping slide runs and impassioned singing that track displayed were repeated time and time again on his subsequent releases. This wonderful three-disc set includes that first version of "Broom" along with a half-dozen other versions (and a half-dozen more under different titles) that James recorded for Trumpet, Mel London's Chief Records, and Bobby Robinson's Fire label between 1951 and 1963. But James wasn't a one-trick pony, and aside from recycling killer version after killer version of "Dust My Broom," this set also contains his classic takes on the majestic "It Hurts Me Too," "The Sky Is Crying," "Rollin' and Tumblin'," and his rewrite of another Johnson standard, "Standing at the Crossroads." Check out the distortion, dirt and tone of his guitar on little known tracks like "Got to Move" and "Find My Kind of Woman," or the ragged yet elegant drive of "Can't Stop Loving My Baby" or "Elmore Jumps Up (Up Jumped Elmore)," to hear why he remains a guitarist's guitarist to this day. And don't forget James as a vocalist, either. He sang like his life depended on it every second, which is why there is literally no Elmore James collection that won't deliver the goods. This box set is no exception.
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