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Blues CDs New Releases - November & December 2012


It's pretty much the end of the line for 2012...most of the labels have already released their big hitters for the fourth quarter, leaving just a few choice morsels for November. As for December, forget about it...there's nothing scheduled to interfere with holiday sales, so enjoy the month, stay warm, and we'll see you again with this column in January. In the meantime, no matter your taste in blues, here's what you'll be listening to in November...

Al Miller – 'In Between Time' (Delmark Records)

Al Miller's In Between Time
Photo courtesy Delmark Records

Acclaimed singer, songwriter, and harp player Al Miller pursues his own unique brand of Chicago blues with this Delmark release. Miller gets a little help from some friends like guitarists Dave Specter, Billy Flynn, and John Primer, who also takes the microphone for three songs. Other talents engaged by Miller include drummers Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Kenny Smith, and pianist Barrelhouse Chuck, this amazing crew knocking out 17 stellar songs you'll want in your blues collection. (Release date: 11/20/12)

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Bessie Smith – 'The Complete Columbia Recordings' (Legacy Recordings)

Bessie Smith's The Complete Columbia Recordings
Photo courtesy Legacy Recordings

Pushed back a week by the label, this ten-disc set pillages the vaults for every song of note recorded by Bessie Smith, "The Empress of the Blues," between 1923 and 1932. Commemorating the 75th anniversary of Smith's tragic death and the 90th anniversary of her signing to the label, the set revises the five two-disc volumes of The Complete Bessie Smith that Columbia released during the early 1990s. The last two discs of this new box set includes rare music from the 1929 short film St. Louis Blues as well as documentary interviews recorded by writer Chris Albertson, the leading authority on Smith's career and the author of Bessie, the book a Blues Hall of Fame literary inductee. (Release date: 11/06/12)

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Eric Bibb & Habib Koite – 'Brothers In Bamako' (Stony Plain Records)

Eric Bibb & Habib Koite's Brothers In Bamako
Photo courtesy Stony Plain Records

Acclaimed acoustic bluesman Eric Bibb hooks up with West African musician Habib Koite for a genre-busting, international collaboration that brings both men's talents to bear on a set of intelligent blues, gospel, folk, and world music that should open people's minds even while it soothes their soul. The material is mostly original, individual and co-written songs, along with a cover of Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind" and the traditional blues tune “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad.” Bibb and Koite met ten years ago when they both played on the Putumayo Records release Mali to Memphis, and have stayed in touch ever since, building a friendship that culminates in Brothers In Bamako. (Release date: 11/06/12)

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Eric Clapton – 'Slowhand' [35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition] (Polydor Records)

Eric Clapton's Slowhand
Photo courtesy Polydor Records

This deluxe edition of Eric Clapton's Slowhand celebrates the album's 35th anniversary by expanding the original LP to two CDs. This re-mastered reissue adds four bonus tracks to the album's initial nine, but it's the second disc that collectors are going to want – a previously-unreleased nine-track live set from Hammersmith Odeon in London circa 1977 that includes songs like "Layla," "Stormy Monday," "I Shot The Sheriff," and Cream's "Badge." (Release date: 11/19/12)

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Junior Kimbrough – 'First Recordings' (Fat Possum Records)

Junior Kimbrough's First Recordings
Photo courtesy Fat Possum Records

This reissue of the original 2009 release finds North Mississippi Hill Country blue legend Junior Kimbrough working out on, well, a brace of early songs (i.e. First Recordings). Originally recorded in 1966 in Memphis for Goldwax Records, producer and label founder Quinton Claunch shelved the tapes at the time, deeming them "too country" sounding. Some 40 years later, Fat Possum Records – facing a deficit of Kimbrough recordings in wake of his ongoing popularity – made a deal for the masters and reissued them, so here they come around for a second time. Interesting but probably unnecessary unless you're one of those completists like the Reverend. (Release date: 11/06/12)

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Tampa Red & Georgia Tom – 'Music Making In Chicago: 1929-1935' (JSP Records)

Tampa Red & Georgia Tom's Music Making In Chicago
Photo courtesy JSP Records

This too-cool-for-school import four-disc box set from the good folks at JSP Records in the U.K. offers up almost all you could want from early Chicago blues legend Tampa Red and his long-time partner "Georgia" Tom Dorsey. Red recorded better than 100 sides for the Vocalion label between 1929 and 1935, including such future blues standards as "It's Tight Like That" and a cover of Leroy Carr's "How Long, How Long Blues." Tampa Red was an accomplished, talented, and highly-influential slide-guitarist who would help usher in the next generation of blues artists, including the great Muddy Waters. (Release date: 11/13/12)

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