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Blues - Released August 28, 1990 | Columbia

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
If you're following the 30-plus year career of Bill Broonzy and already have the two early compilations available on Yazoo, here's where you go next. These are basically ensemble works covering the time frame between 1930 to 1940 and Broonzy sounds very comfortable in the company of Blind John Davis and Joshua Altheimer. The 20 tracks compiled here (culled from various Vocalion, ARC and Columbia sessions) sound pretty great, benefitting mightily from modern sound restoration devices. ~ Cub Koda

Blues - Released November 11, 2010 | Grammercy Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 2018 | Emerald Echoes

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Blues - Released February 17, 2018 | Resurfaced Records

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Blues - Released November 21, 2011 | Ndh Music

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Blues - Released June 20, 2005 | Yazoo

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1960 | CM ANGEL (A91)

This three-CD set (originally five LPs) was a product of three recording sessions, held on July 12 and 13, 1957, immediately before Broonzy entered the hospital for surgery on the lung cancer that would end his career and take his life just a year later. He sounds in good enough spirits, and the voice and guitar are still in excellent form as he runs through the songs that evidently mattered most to him on those two days: "Key to the Highway," "Take This Hammer," "See See Rider," "Alberta," "Frankie and Johnny," "In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down)," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and more than two dozen others. Producer Bill Randle didn't get a lot of the songs he'd hoped to record, such as "Stack O Lee" and "Night Time Is the Right Time," which Broonzy didn't want to sing, but he got enough for five LPs' worth of music out of the ten hours of recordings. (Did the rest survive, one wonders, and might there be anything that was left off that's worth hearing?) The sound is state of the art, with the singer and his solo acoustic guitar clean and close. The set is a vital and important document, as well as great listening, not only for the music but for Broonzy's between-song banter -- he was one of the great raconteurs of the blues -- although it isn't quite as indispensable as one might think. ~ Bruce Eder
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Blues - Released June 4, 1998 | Columbia - Legacy

The title is apt. Warmth, wit, and wisdom spring from these 16 blues recordings from 1930-1941, as does a clever, ribald sense of humor, jocularity, and juicy, expressive guitar playing. At least Broonzy had the satisfaction before his passing of knowing the abundant inspiration he provided to the later famed generation of '50s Chicago blues legends. You can hear plenty of Broonzy's earnest, confident-just-shy-of-cocky, appealing attitude about sex, booze, bars, and Depression era hard times in the recordings of other later Chess masters such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Bo Diddley, and Howling Wolf. This tall Southern gent vet left the South of his birth for the more fertile black playing grounds of Chi-town in the jazz age 1920s, and lit up the South Side clubs once he added a band. In fact, to get to the good stuff, save the 1930-1932 New York recordings that open this disc for last. These are excellent, thoroughly picked, folk-blues recordings, just his smooth voice and working fingers, nearly as fast and as flavorful as '20s and '30s masters Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Leadbelly. But move instead to the drums/bass/piano/guitar work on the 1938-1939 Chicago recordings, where the sizzle and wordplay just grow. Listeners would chuckle over the double entendres in songs like "Too Many Drivers" or the drunken hilarity of "When I Been Drinking" if they weren't so entranced by the pumping piano, some of the earliest electric guitar blues solos, and Broonzy's rich, surprisingly sunny singing. The string bass, shuffling drums, and occasional sax, clarinet, or trumpet are similarly first-rate, but it's the unfettered piano of Joshua Altheimer that steals the show. Blues in this case makes for mischievous grins, not frowns and bleeding hearts, and for that Broonzy's work will always inspire successive generations of blues lovers. ~ Jack Rabid
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Blues - Released October 29, 2018 | Milestones Records

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Blues - Released January 9, 2019 | SPV

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Blues - Released January 9, 2019 | SPV

Blues - Released May 23, 2018 | Doxy Records

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Blues - Released November 27, 2018 | Milestones Records

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Blues - Released November 27, 2018 | Milestones Records

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Blues - Released September 10, 2018 | Milestones Records

Jazz - Released March 5, 2018 | Doxy Records

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Blues - Released August 1, 2018 | Milestones Records