Various Artists

Chicago Blues: A Living History, The (R)evolution Continues

I was born 100 miles west of Chicago, but it might as well have been another planet out there in the sticks, so far from the South Side where the blues were played every night, with guys like Muddy Waters and Little Walter laying down the template, creating the electric sound that helped give birth to rock ’n’ roll. In this follow-up to their 2009 compilation, Billy Boy Arnold, Billy Branch and friends have put together yet another homage to Chicago blues, a 23-song celebration of a rich chapter in the music’s history. On this outing, they’re joined by such superstars as James Cotton, Buddy Guy and Magic Slim, all veterans of that earlier Chicago blues scene, the mecca that drew pilgrims like Charlie Musselwhite and Elvin Bishop back when they were kids. That vital heritage still inspires every blues man working the circuit. And everyone associated with those roots seems to get props on this album—Elmore James, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Sonny Boy Williamson, you name ’em and their ghosts are in these grooves. The first album in this series was good, but this one is even better. If you know some culturally deprived soul who has yet to hear the good news about the blues, you could give ’em this album as a primer.