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Blues Images (CAL2014)

Once a year (at least) I rekindle the feeling I used to have on  each Christmas morning as a little kid when the postman brings the annual Blues Images calendar. With the arrival of the 2014 edition, here I am again, kneeling at the altar (so to speak) and revelling in the beautiful photography and advertising artwork from a bygone era. This year, is another bumper year with twelve masterpieces of art including never-before-seen photographs of Henry Thomas and Furry Lewis, a signed photo of Bessie Smith, as well as advertising imagery relating to 78rpm releases from the 1920s of Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Papa Charlie Jackson, Blind Blake, Luella Miller, Washboard Walter, Mississippi Sheiks, Reverend E.W. Clayborn and Mother McCollum.

As always, the calendar comes with a free CD which contains 12 songs that directly relate to the monthly calendar artwork, double-dosing the pleasure of not only seeing but also hearing these beauts. Highlights are everywhere and include Henry Thomas' rolling Bull Doze Blues, the prototype for Canned Heat's Goin' Up The Country a few generations later. Miss Emma Liza, is perhaps the biggest find of all, being the final known missing recording of Blind Blake, restored and transformed here from a battered old 78 to a discovery of real worth. And, if you have bought some (or all) of the previous 10 volumes of this calendar, you'll know to expect plenty of additional bonus cuts on the CD. Again, you are in luck as these are indeed the real deal, being not only super-rare but also super-sumptuous. Check out When You Dream Of Muddy Water by the little-known Tenderfoot Edwards, Coal River Blues by Blind Percy, or the marvellously titled God Is Worried At Your Wicked Ways by Blind Gussie Nesbitt. Genius.

Whether you are familiar with these tracks or not, they won't have sounded this good before, being newly re-mastered from the finest copies of 78rpm records available. And with more songs included on the CD than ever before, plus the calendar including at least two never-before-seen photos, this might well be the best in the series yet. But, then again, I say this each and every year!

Review Date: October 2013

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