Compilation producers: Richard Pearce, Alex Gibney, Andy Mckaie.
Includes liner notes by Robert Gordon.
Personnel: Bobby Rush (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Elmore James, Robert Belfour, B.B. King (vocals, guitar); Sonny Boy Williamson I , Howlin' Wolf (vocals, harmonica); Rosco Gordon (vocals, piano); Bruce Howard (vocals, drums); Junior Parker, David Johansen, Saint Luther Choir, Carolyn Minor, Gatemouth Moore, William C. Brown, Charles Polk, The Charioteers, Bobby "Blue" Bland (vocals); Vasti Jackson (guitar, keyboard programming, drum programming); Duke Robillard, Steve Johnson , Dexter Allen, Mick Rodgers, Floyd Murphy, Willie Kizart, Hubert Sumlin, Little Ray, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Wayne Bennett, Willie Johnson, Bob Margolin (guitar); Charlie Musselwhite (harmonica); Willie Sims (saxophone, drums); Willie Wilkes, Doug James , Gordon "Sax" Beadle (saxophone); Rev. Robert Skinner, Jr., L.A. Hill, Adolph Duncan, Richard Sanders, Raymond Hill (tenor saxophone); Rayfield Davers, Jackie Brenston (baritone saxophone); Joe Scott , Melvin Jackson (trumpet); Pluma Davis (trombone); Teddy Reynolds, William "Cat" Johnson, Ike Turner, Johnny Ace , Albert Williams (piano); Lafayette Leake, Billy "The Kid" Emerson (organ); Paul Brown , Henry Gray, Darron Daniel, John Alford (keyboards); James Taylor (drums, keyboard programming); Earl Forest, Stacey Robinson, Jeffery McAllister, John Murray Daley, Frock O'Dell, Forest Gordon, Willie Steele, Russ Wilson, John Bowers, John Starks, Al Duncan (drums); Vernon Morrison (keyboard programming).
Liner Note Authors: Robert Gordon; Rufus Thomas; Dick Pearce; Martin Scorsese.
Recording information: Beale Street, Memphis, TN (02/??/1951-05/24/2002); Chicago, IL (02/??/1951-05/24/2002); Lakewest Recording, West Greenwich, RI (02/??/1951-05/24/2002); Larry's Place, Nesbit, MS (02/??/1951-05/24/2002); Los Angeles, CA (02/??/1951-05/24/2002); Miami, FL (02/??/1951-05/24/2002); St. Luther Church, Jackson, MS (02/??/1951-05/24/2002); The New Daisy Theatre, Memphis, TN (02/??/1951-05/24/2002).
Photographers: Lance Murphey; Frank Driggs; Ernest C. Withers; Wayne Knight; Dick Pearce.
Filmmaker Richard Pearce's documentary The Road to Memphis, one of the seven films included in the PBS-TV series The Blues presented by Martin Scorsese, nominally follows the career of B.B. King, but in a more general sense it is an examination of the blues and R&B music of Memphis. This focus is even more pronounced on the soundtrack album, on which King rates only two tracks, which is as many as Howlin' Wolf, Rosco Gordon, and Pearce's real favorite, Bobby Rush, get. The album works as a collection of classic Memphis blues tracks, including King's "Three O'Clock Blues," Howlin' Wolf's "How Many More Years," Elmore James' "Dust My Broom," Bobby Bland's "I Pity the Fool," Sonny Boy Williamson's "Bring It on Home," and Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88." The newer tracks are less impressive, but perhaps inevitable; there seems to have been direction from the top that each soundtrack must mix the old with the new, as if to demonstrate that the blues is a living music and, incidentally, create cross-marketing opportunities. Of course, such a combination is inevitable in order for the filmmakers to have something new to shoot and not just rely on archival footage. So, while David Johansen may not be most people's idea of a Memphis bluesman, he is here and, as it happens, his cavernous bass-baritone is not unsuited to "Killing Floor." But the best numbers remain the old reliables. ~ William Ruhlmann