For the blues lover, the debut of Martin Scorsese's 7-part documentary, The Blues, has created a "World Series"-like expectation. Since 2003 has been tabbed as the "Year of the Blues," the documentary has actually generated some level of interest for even the casual and non-blues fan.
With that said, it is easier to understand and consider the collection of tracks selected for the soundtrack Martin Scorsese Presents: The Best of the Blues. For the hard core blues fan, the larger, five-disc set Martin Scorsese Presents: The Best of the Blues: A Musical Journey is probably the better bet, including more artists, and fewer tracks percentage-wise that would be considered mainstream. However, for the person who is less familiar with the blues and seeks a reasonable introduction to a variety of blues styles from a historical perspective, Martin Scorsese Presents: The Best of the Blues hits the mark as a promotable product.
Martin Scorsese Presents: The Best of the Blues includes 21 tracks, ranging from the immortal Robert Johnson's, "Cross Road Blues" to a nice rendition of "Vietnam Blues" by jazz singer, Cassandra Wilson. While the second-guessers might question the inclusion of "All Your Love" by a British blues band, John Mayall's Bluesbreaker's with Eric Clapton, over say Freddie King's San-Ho-Zay, or "Voodoo Music" by Los Lobos over "Stormy Monday" by T-Bone Walker; this representation of music is good in that it will reveal to a number of people that they have been listening to the blues for a long time, whether they knew it or not.
Everyone who listens to Martin Scorsese Presents: The Best of the Blues will have their own personal favorites. For me, the older and more traditional cuts were all quite entertaining, particularly "Death Letter Blues" by Son House, "I'd Rather Go Blind" by a younger Etta James and John Lee Hooker's classic, "Boom Boom." Among the "newer" cuts, I loved "One Good Man" by Janis Joplin, "Red House" by Jimi Hendrix (the only version of this song worth listening to) and the string-laced B. B. King classic, "The Thrill Is Gone." Fortunately, there are really no clinkers on the CD, so no one should have to grit their teeth through a cluster of dogs to get to the good songs.
Martin Scorsese Presents: The Best of the Blues is definitely a keeper (this is from a person who doesn't normally enjoy compilations) and a compilation that might lead people to some long-forgotten music in their closet or to something "new" in their musical appreciation. Pick up a copy of Martin Scorsese Presents: The Best of the Blues at your favorite music store and, if you like, pick up any of the other CDs, DVDs and/or books that will be coming out in support of the documentary and help keep the blues alive.
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