Crikey, what to think when Ace begin reissuing their own issues? That said, when you’ve got an archive as rich as these guys, putting something out again for a new audience beats knocking out the umpteenth Presley, Cash, Bowie, etc collection for supermarket shelves. They’ve been sending a few bits and bobs out in ‘hip pocket’ facsimile LP sleeves for a while, and now this 1993-released Elmore James long-box comes streamlined in a three-way jewel case for the millennium bluesologist. Not as untamed as Howlin’ Wolf, as ethereal as Robert Johnson or as funky as John Lee Hooker, Elmore James stands as one of the consummate blues performers. Slick without blunting his edge and still full of emotional connection, even as far back as 1951’s Dust My Broom (still sounding as intimate as your own home) James sounds like the sharpest on the circuit. Across three discs there’s one hell of a progression from that small quartet with Ike Turner backing, to brass sections and six-piece bands. Outtakes and studio missteps chart the journey, and you can hear just why James was a major influence on Hendrix. Thanks to this set, you don’t have to see them to know that his live shows were also something else.
Elmore James & His Broomdusters - The Classic Early Recordings 1951-1956
Sharpest tool in the box can still cut it up
Ace | ABOXCD 4
Reviewed by Jason Draper
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