In the liner notes of this installment of the Heritage Blues collection Bonnie Raitt calls Fred McDowell the "real deal" and rightfully so. Mississippi Fred was unquestionably influenced by Robert Johnson and like Johnson he played the purest form of blues ever; Delta Blues.
With many of Fred McDowell's original recordings out of print, fans of the bluesman are forced to rely on compilations such as this to obtain his music. This latest collection features McDowell on his acoustic 6 string playing the blues as it was meant to be played, raw and unpolluted. The problem with most of these compilations is they leave so much out and are way too short; this one clocks in at just over 35 minutes leaving the listener wanting more. With a body of work that spans nearly 2 decades, High Tone could have made a double cd. However, this disc features rare tracks as opposed to better know Fred McDowell tunes and vocal accompaniment by Fannie Davis, Grace Bowden, James Collins and Annie Mae McDowell, which makes this cd worth buying. For collectors there is an alternate version of "You Got To Move" (which would reworked by the Rolling Stones on Sticky Fingers). A nice companion to this record would be 2001's Best of Mississippi Fred McDowell on Arhoolie.
While Mississippi Fred McDowell never garnered the fame or accolades he deserved, his music influenced a generation. It is collections like this which are having an influence on young blues musicians as opposed to the slick sound of Chicago Blues. Bands such as the Black Keys and 20 Miles have sited McDowell as a major influence as they take the blues into the 21st century.
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