Producers include: David Axelrod, Ozzie Cadena, Esmond Edwards, Kenneth S. Goldstein, Mack McCormick.
Compilation producer: Samuel Charters.
Recorded between 1959 & 1964. Includes liner notes by Samuel Charters.
Personnel: Homesick James Williamson, K.C. Douglas (vocals, guitar); Shakey Jake Harris, Sonny Terry, Billy Boy Arnold (vocals, harmonica); Little Brother Montgomery, Memphis Slim, Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim (vocals, piano); Jimmy Witherspoon, Mildred Anderson, Willie Dixon (vocals); James "Pee Wee" Madison, Floyd Ball, Frank Ingalls, Johnny "Big Moose" Walker, Kenny Burrell, Lafayette Thomas, Mighty Joe Young, Muddy Waters, Sticks McGhee, T-Bone Walker, Wally Richardson (guitar); J.C. Burris, James Cotton (harmonica); Leo Wright (alto saxophone, tambourine); Clifford Scott, Hal Ashby, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis , Clarence Perry, Jr., King Curtis (tenor saxophone); Curtis Jones, Robert Banks, Gildo Mahones, Lafayette Leake, Otis Spann (piano); Bert Kendrix, Shirley Scott (organ); Eddie Taylor, Jerome Arnold (electric bass); Clifton James, Wayne Robertson, Junior Blackmon, Gus Johnson , Jimmie Smith , S.P. Leary, Arthur Edgehill, Belton Evans (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Recording information: Chicago, IL (12/03/1959-11/21/1964); Englewood Cliffs, NJ (12/03/1959-11/21/1964); Houston, TX (12/03/1959-11/21/1964); Los Angelels (12/03/1959-11/21/1964); Memphis, TN (12/03/1959-11/21/1964); New York, NY (12/03/1959-11/21/1964); Oakland (12/03/1959-11/21/1964).
Unknown Contributor Role: Ozzie Cadena.
The title might lead you to believe that you're going to hear a jump blues collection, but many listeners wouldn't find that categorization strictly accurate. It would be better to say that these 22 songs, all recorded for Bluesville and Prestige between 1959 and 1964, concentrate more on the upbeat, uptempo face of the blues experience, rather than the more downbeat aspects that have more visibility in popular culture. (In fact, they're given more visibility on compilations such as this one's direct predecessor, The Bluesville Years Vol. 11: Blues Is a Heart's Sorrow.) Most of the names here are mid-to-upper-level blues icons -- Otis Spann and James Cotton (playing together), Sonny Terry, Lightnin' Hopkins, Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon, Billy Boy Arnold, Roosevelt Sykes, and Jimmy Witherspoon -- though rather more obscure performers like K.C. Douglas, Homesick James, and Mildred Anderson are here too. Both rural and urban styles are represented, but urban styles are more in evidence. Sometimes, the blues is not just urban but urbane, with a jazzy feel on cuts by Little Brother Montgomery, Witherspoon, and Anderson (the last of whom has a band including tenor saxophonist Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and organist Shirley Scott). A more hard-hitting brand of brash electric blues, however, is on board via cuts by Arnold, Homesick James, Spann, and Cotton. The Spann-Cotton duet on "Lightnin'" (with Muddy Waters on guitar) is the high spot of the disc, although the recording quality isn't so hot. Like all of the volumes in this series, this is a decent sampler of the Bluesville/Prestige catalog, though too loose in its thematic and musical groupings to rate among the better blues compilations. ~ Richie Unterberger