Part of the first wave of white blues performers, Charlie Musselwhite, 56, learned the blues first-hand playing harmonica behind Homesick James, Robert Nighthawk and Johnny Young on Maxwell Street in Chicago. In the mid-1960s he formed his own band and began recording for Vanguard and later Arhoolie.
Unlike some players of his generation, Musselwhite avoided the temptation to over play. By 1970 he'd moved to the West Coast, where his popularity increased via recordings and a busy touring schedule that included jaunts overseas. By the mid-1990s, Musselwhite had earned a spot as one of the top names in the blues.
The recordings on this Best of Vanguard Years trace his work for Vanguard during the 1960s and include rare tracks he recorded later in his career. Also included, is the original version of the haunting jazz ballad "Christo Redentor," considered by many to be Musslewhite's "theme song."
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This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.