41) Duster Bennett – Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (1968-1970/2007)
Duster Bennet is backed by Fleetwood Mac (if not the entire band, then by Peter Green) and by Top Topham, the Yardbirds’ first lead guitarist, for a lot of his Blue Horizon recordings on this 2-CD, 44 song set. I find a lot of his performances too frenetic or intense to enjoy, but you can’t miss with his oft-recorded classic “Jumping at Shadows”, plus “Times Like These”, “Shady Little Baby”, “I Wonder If You Know (How It Is)”, “Rock of Ages Cleft for Me”, “I Love My Baby”, the Kinks’ “Act Nice and Gentle” and “On Reconsideration”.
If you like the Blue Horizon set, then I also recommend Bright Lights Big City – The Collectors’ Duster Bennett (2002), another 2-CD set that spans most of Duster’s musical career. Besides a couple of the songs mentioned in the set above, “Lone Wolf Blues”, “I’ve Been Down So Long”, “Blue River Rising”, “Back in the Same Old Bag”, “Wasted Time” and a surprising bluesy version of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” are all standouts.
42) Paul Rodgers – Muddy Waters Blues – A Tribute to Muddy Waters (2002)
This all-Muddy Waters songs blues set sees former Free and Bad Company lead singer Paul Rodgers employing loads of blues guitar guest stars, such as Jeff Beck (on “Rollin’ Stone”, “Good Morning Little School Girl” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You”), Buddy Guy, Brian Setzer, Steve Miller, David Gilmour, Slash, Gary Moore and Brian May. Guest guitar stars aside, Paul’s great vocals contribute enormously to making this entire CD a real blues treasure.
A second CD featuring revamps of Paul’s Free and Bad Company hits is included as well.
43) Gordon Smith – Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (1968-1969/2008)
Why isn’t this unsung hero of the British blues better known? Is it because his recordings were all acoustic or his guitar playing too authentic? This 28-track set of Gordon Smith’s Blue Horzon recordings begins with Smith’s Long Overdue LP. It includes 12 previously unreleased tracks and 7 Smith originals, the rest of the material all fine covers of blues classics. Four songs feature backing by Fleetwood Mac. This is a great set by a vastly underrated British blues singer and player.
Smith is still at it: check out The Essential Gordon Smith (2009), a strong collection of 15 of his 1997–2008 blues recordings of classic blues numbers, including three self-penned songs. Gordon is in fine form; they’re all gems.
44) Steamhammer – Steamhammer (a.k.a Reflection) (1969/1992)
Unlike their later prog-influenced albums, Steamhammer’s first LP is a strong collection of original British blues, beginning with the brilliant opening combo of “Water/Junior’s Wailing” and followed by B.B. King’s “You’ll Never Know”, Eddie Boyd’s “24 Hours” and an outstanding array of blues originals. Guitarist Martin Pugh later joined the Yardbirds‘ Keith Relf in the band Armageddon.
Blues from Steamhammer were scarce after their first LP, but fans searching for more good British blues will be rewarded by “Contemporary Chick Con Song” and “Another Traveling Tune” on MKII (1969/1992)…
…and “Riding on the L&N/Hold That Train” on Mountains (1970/1990).
45) Them – The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison (1964-1966/1997)
This double-disc set collects everything recorded by the Irish group Them while Van Morrison was fronting this great blues and R&B group (1964-1967). The band was terrific, yet occasionally they ere replaced on record by session musicians (i.e., Jimmy Page played that great guitar on “Baby Please Don’t Go”). There’s an embarrassment of riches here, but the crème de la crème should include Big Joe Williams’ ”Baby Please Don’t Go”, Rosco Gordon’s “Just a Little Bit”, Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights, Big City” and “Baby What You Want Me To Do”, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins‘ “I Put a Spell On You”, T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday”, Slim Harpo’s “Don’t Start Crying Now“, John Lee Hooker’s “Don’t Look Back”, Fats Domino’s “Hello Josephine” and Jimmy Witherspoon’s “Things Getting’ Tougher Than Tough”.
Van has proved himself to be a superb blues songwriter on par with his heroes, as evidenced by the incredible “Mystic Eyes”, as well as “One Two Brown Eyes”, “All For Myself” and “Bring ‘em On In”. Although they’re not blues songs, let us not leave without mentioning Van’s garage band classic “Gloria” or his hit “Here Comes the Night”, both included on this set.
How appropriate to end this chapter with Van the Man on St. Patrick’s Day!
…Almost to The End…