October 01, 2001
Wyman, it turns out, has great taste. There are plenty of superb performances from the likes of Bessie Smith, Charlie Patton, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, BB King - the cream of the crop.
It's also nice to see some lesser-known greats included, such as Lonnie Johnson, Memphis Minnie, Tampa Red, & Blind Willie McTell. Wyman's bias seems to be toward rock 'n' roll precursors and - less predictably - boogie-woogie piano players. So we get 'Lil' Son' Jackson's 'Rockin' & Rollin'' and an obscure but enjoyable boogie-woogie track by a certain Montana Taylor, recorded in 1929.
All the cuts are in good, remastered sound, clear but with a minimum of hiss, and the extensive notes are written with an eye to the memorable anecdote and the connection between this music and the rock 'n' roll that might be more familiar to many listeners. There's no denying that what is here is some of the greatest American music ever scratched into wax, and this set makes a fine introduction to a proud heritage.
- Will Meyerhofer (Barnes & Noble)
Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey
Talk about a labour of love. Here, former Rolling Stones bassist and full-time blues aficionado Bill Wyman picks 46 of his favorite classic blues songs (nothing goes past the early 1950s), one track each from some of the most significant blues artists of the past century.
Bill Wyman writes...
I was born in Southeast London just prior to the Second World War. While my father worked, we were far from well off; life was a struggle. Years later I found that many Black musicians grew up in the Southern USA in difficult circumstances, something of a shared experience. However, I did not share the awfulness of segregation and the problems of being treated as a second class citizen. When I was eleven years old I experienced one small instance of being on the 'outside'. I did well in my exams and was sent to a school where my cockney accent and my background made me different… I didn't like it.
I discovered music during my teenage years and after I joined the Air Force, I found that I loved music that had its roots in the sound of Black people from the Southern states.
The way I learnt about their music seemed to echo the way their forebears had taught them: it was about tradition, a tradition passed on by word of mouth. I have learned so much from the Blues, and have come to realize that there is much more to the Blues than people think.
When I first began my Blues Odyssey project I concentrated on making a television series that would introduce people to the Blues. This soon expanded to include a book and it seemed only natural to produce this CD to accompany both the book and the television shows. Picking some of my favourite songs, by some of my favourite artists was great. It made me sit down and listen to countless records and CD's of wonderful music. In some cases I was inspired by songs that I had forgotten I liked so much.
Listening to this wonderful music has been such a rich and rewarding experience for me and along the way I cam to recognize the importance of the Blues in the development of 20th century music. Being fortunate enough to have been a member of the Rolling Stones placed me in the position to be involved in a musical family tree with some of the greatest musicians of the last 50 years. Listening to the Blues has taught me so much about history, social issues and even life itself. My Blues Odyssey is an opportunity for me to acknowledge my debt to the Blues men and women who have not only helped me to understand the music's wonderfully rich tapestry, but who also have given me endless hours of musical pleasure.
These CD's are what the Blues are all about… the music. We can think about the Blues, write about them and talk about them, but ultimately, we all need to listen to them.
I hope that you will find this journey to the heart and soul of the Blues as fascinating as I have… let the Odyssey continue.
Full track listing