Folks! [1992]

They called 2003 "the year of the blues," but any year that sees another release in the American Folk Blues Festival series is one worth savoring. There's no lack of star power on this, the third volume (the first two were released in, yes, '03) taken from the European tours organized for American blues musicians between 1962 and '69; two fiery tunes by Muddy Waters are included as bonus tracks, Joe Turner is well known from his days with Count Basie, and the finale brings together such estimable perfomers as vocalist Helen Humes, pianist Memphis Slim, guitarist T-Bone Walker, bassist Willie Dixon, and longtime partners Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. If names like Skip James, Bukka White, Dr. Isaiah Ross, and Son House (all playing in the acoustic Delta style, a sound that's about as raw and real as the blues gets) ring a bell only with serious blues fans, no matter. The performances (including what's purported to be the only extant audio-video footage of harmonica legend Little Walter) are uniformly strong, and the black & white images and strikingly clear sound are once again extraordinary. But this footage is not only a treat in and of itself. It's also music that changed our culture forever, as members of bands like the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and Led Zeppelin were there to witness it in person.--Sam Graham

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