For those who may not be overly familiar with how the music industry works, every year from about early April until about late October, there’s a little something that happens that this critic has come to call the “annual Summer music push.” It is during this time frame that it seems like every record label and act under the sun releases new music, from singles, to EPs, to full albums. It starts as a slow boil in mid-late March and then really picks up in early April. In the movement that is the annual summer music push, it gets easy for so many records to get lost in the mix along the way. One record that will not get lost in the blues realm is World Music Network’s latest compilation record, The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues. Released Friday, this 25-song record is yet another enjoyable addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series. Its success comes in no small part through its liner notes, which in this case really serve as the record’s foundation. They will be discussed shortly. The songs that make up the collection’s body work in direct partner with the liner notes and make for more engagement and entertainment. They will be discussed a little later. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection. All things considered they make The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues a presentation that any blues fan will enjoy.
The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues, the latest release in World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series, is a mostly successful new offering from the label. It is a welcome companion to so many of the various blues compilations that have come from the label ahead of its release. The collection’s success comes in part through its featured liner notes. The notes are important to note because of the foundation that they form for the record. From early on, audiences learn through the liner notes that while the blues is a distinctly American form of music, the use of a slide on a stringed instrument is in fact African at its roots. Many audiences will be surprised to learn not only this, but that the African instrument that essentially gave rise to slide guitar blues was a children’s instrument. The whole story there will be left for audiences to discover for themselves. This is just one of the interesting items presented in the liner notes. Audiences also learn through the liner notes that the use of a slide on a guitar, at least in the continental United States was first documented in 1903 by W.C. Handy while waiting for a train. Yet, even before that time, the use of a slide on a guitar had also been well-known in Hawaii (before it became a state) and was becoming even more popular in the continental United States. Yet again, this is an intriguing item that blues fans and music fans in general will find intriguing, and potentially even get them to do their own research into both genres’ histories. It is just one more example of the foundation that the liner notes form and is certainly not all that makes them interesting. The liner notes also point out the various kinds of slides used in the blues and the ways in which they were used, both in slower 12-bar blues and more upbeat music of the genre. This item plays directly into the songs that make up the record’s body.
The songs that compose the body of The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues offer audiences slide guitar blues recorded by blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta, Texas and the East Coast. They are also up-tempo compositions and more reserved compositions. In other words, audiences get quite the variety of slide blues compositions throughout the course of the record’s 77-minute run time. The ability of the slide to sustain notes (going back to the liner notes) in slower songs is on wonderful display in Lemuel Turner’s ‘Way Down Yonder Blues.’ Easily one of Turner’s most well-known compositions, it is a full-on instrumental composition that features Turner playing his guitar by himself. Nothing else is there. The vibrato in so many of the song’s notes cuts through so clearly and really enriches the arrangement all the more. On a completely opposite note, there is the country blues style composition that is ‘Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door,’ from Casey Bill Weldon. In the case of this song, the notes are sustained in their own unique way as the contemplative composition progresses. What’s more, the arrangement itself shows just another blues subgenre and how slides are used to enhance the music therein. Kokomo Arnold’s ‘Feels So Good,’ which comes early in the set, is a prime example of more upbeat, energetic slide guitar blues. The use of the slide in a case, such as this shows how a slide is used in direct contrast to slower, more reserved blues songs. In slower blues compositions, the slide provides more of a vibrato, in almost a classical music style. In the case of a song like this, the slide shortens the notes and really changes the overall sound of the recording. It is just one more example of how the various compositions show so much variety in how slides are used in the blues. When it is considered with the other compositions examined here and with the rest of the record’s songs, the whole of that content builds on the collection’s foundation and makes the presentation all the more enjoyable.
The liner notes featured in The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues and the songs that directly partner with them do much to make the record. They are just a part of what makes the set another enjoyable offering from WMN. The production that went into the record’s presentation rounds out its most important elements. The production is important because once again, what audiences get in this collection is another grouping of recordings that reaches back to the early 20th century. The sound of the static is still there, more so in some recordings than others, but it is there. At the same time, there is clearly no loss in any of the featured songs. What this means is that those responsible for the transfers clearly went to painstaking efforts once again to ensure the songs sounded just as good decades later as they did in their original presentations. The result is a wonderful general effect that puts the finishing touch to the record. When the expert production is considered along with the impact of the liner notes and the songs, the whole makes this presentation overall yet another successful addition to WMN’s ongoing series of Rough Guide To… releases.
The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues, the latest addition to World Music Network’s ongoing series of Rough Guide To…compilations, is another positive offering from the company in that series. Its success comes in part through its liner notes. The notes are important because of the rich background that they offer on the history of slide guitar blues. The history that they provide is sure to educate and surprise plenty of audiences, and hopefully in turn, get those audiences interested in starting their own research into the genre. The music that accompanies the liner notes does well to take audiences even deeper into that history, as they hear exactly what the liner notes point out, in terms of stylistic differences in each style of slide guitar blues. The production that went into the compilation puts the finishing touch to the presentation. That is because it ensures the featured vintage presentations sound just as good in their new presentations as they did decades ago. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation. All things considered, they make The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues yet another enjoyable addition to WMN’s Rough Guide To… series of releases.
The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:
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