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Robert JohnsonNorah Jones

CD reviews - Artist profiles - Discography
Musical Profile Index

Welcome to our summary page of musical artists that we profile. This is our high level snapshot. Many of the bands mentioned on the page we have more detailed profiles, which include topics ranging from reviews, commentary, discography, cd recommendations, photos, and related subjects. 

We're always adding new recommendations so stop back frequently.

CD reviews - Artist profiles - Discography

Elmore James 

Jefferson Airplane

Dr. John

Lonnie Johnson

Robert Johnson

Norah Jones

CD reviews - Artist profiles - Discography
Band overviews
Norah Jones ]
CD reviews - Artist profiles - Discography

Elmore James 

The Best of Elmore James The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James

Elmore James has numerous compilations and reissues of his work. If you are looking for a single disc, The Sky Is Crying: The History of Elmore James offers the best value as it includes 21 tracks and covers his career. A similar release, Blues Masters: The Very Best of Elmore James includes  16 songs.

Rreleased in 2006, Slide Guitar Master, is priced nice and is packed with 27 cuts from the early 1950's. 

A good supplement to either of the releases noted above is Blues Kingpins  that focuses on lesser known tracks.

The best of the more comprehensive and  niche releases. 
Shake Your Moneymaker: The Best of the Fire Sessions  - Niche releases from 1959 and 1961 - One disc

Early Recordings 51-56

King of the Slide Guitar - Two Discs 50 tracks with alternate versions of the latter years 

CD reviews - Artist profiles - Discography

Jefferson Airplane

Volunteers Surrealistic Pillow
Volunteers is Jefferson Airplane's last release with their classic line-up of vocalists Marty Balin and Grace Slick, singer and rhythm guitarist Paul Kantner, lead guitarist and singer Jorma Kaukonen, bassist Jack Cassidy, and drummer Spencer Davis. 

It is my favorite Jefferson Airplane album. They have several notable guests, Jerry Garcia plays pedal steel on "The Farm," not an essential track. Instead, it is Nicky Hopkins' piano contributions throughout the album that make it rise. As an aside, Nicky Hopkins played in Garcia's band in 1975, the 2009 release live disc Let it Rock is amazing and Hopkins is present on a few songs on Reflections, and the same Dylan cover is present on both Garcia Plays Dylan and The Very Best of Jerry Garcia

Paul Kantner co-wrote "Wooden Ships" with Crosby and Stills. CSN's version is more recognizable, but this rendition has much to enjoy and is completely different sounding.

Grace Slick leads the band through a lengthy power building ballad "Hey Frederick" that allows the band to stretch out. Hopkins adds his melodic touch nicely throughout. He highlights both Slick during the vocals, and gets behind Jorma and Kantner's guitars. 

Jorma adds a few tracks, and "Good Shepherd" rises to the top.

Their are five bonus live tracks from a their Nov. 28 and 29, 1969 Fillmore East shows. The sound quality is good and the performances are biting, electric, and power driven.

The re-mastered Volunteers has extensive liner notes by Jeff Tamarkin.

The Worst of Jefferson Airplane The Essential Jefferson Airplane
CD reviews - Artist profiles - Discography

Dr. John

The Very Best of Dr. John The Definitive Pop Collection
Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John, the sound of New Orleans. Mac started out as a guitar player, but in 1960 in Jacksonville, FL, Mac interceded in an argument. A fight broke out and he got shot in his left index finger. 

I'm not the biggest fan of Dr. John, but he's got some essential material. Actually I love his piano skills, but am lukewarm on his songwriting. Having him sit in with some blues bands allowing him some improvisation would be excellent. He does appear on part of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Live at Carnegie Hall

I've highlighted a few  of the top Dr. John compilations. 

The Definitive Pop Collection is a budget oriented double disc anthology. I believe that it begins with material from 1968 from his Gris-Gris album and concludes with the title track from, Goin' Back to New Orleans. There is another worthwhile anthology, which I'm more familiar with, Mos' Scocious: The Dr. John Anthology. This 1993 release is more expensive than The Definitive Pop Collection; covering the period 1959 through 1989. It has very good liner with a 20 page essay, notes from Dr. John, on every track, and credits.

The Very Best Of Dr. John is a solid choice for a single disc Dr. John compilation.

CD reviews - Artist profiles - Discography

Lonnie Johnson 

Original Guitar Wizard A Life in Music Selected Sides 1925-1953 
Another fantastic release by the Proper label, a bargain, four CD's priced like two.

Press Release
One of the most influential and original blues musicians, Lonnie Johnson virtually created the modern blues guitar style on his own, sending the music off in the direction it has subsequently taken. Combining elements of jazz into his technique meant that he blurred the 
boundaries between the two emerging musics during the '30s, later slipping out of music only to return as an elder statesman in the 1960s. 

This lavishly presented 4 CD set takes in all of the recordings made between 1928 and 1952 that created a blues legend and also includes comprehensive liner notes and a full discography. 

A Life in Music Selected Sides 1925-1953. A three disc box set from the label JSP.

CD reviews - Artist profiles - Discography
Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings Complete Collection
Robert Johnson makes the list as much for his contribution and influence to the blues genre as the music itself. I have Johnson's The Complete Recordings and do enjoy listening to it, but without its historic importance, he wouldn't have made the front page.

There are 29 Robert Johnson songs. Of them, several were recorded twice for a total of 41 recordings. That is all there is. 

All 41 recordings are on The Complete Recordings. The package has very good liner notes with photos, lyrics, recording dates, and essays. The tracks are in chorological order.  Meanwhile, Complete Collection has the 29 songs on one disc without the alternate tracks. There are plenty of other, lesser, compilations that include some of his songs and numerous tribute releases.

The great label JSP released a box set called The Road to Robert Johnson (and beyond). It contains four discs. The first disc are pre Robert Johnson artists and peers. The second disc contains 29 Robert Johnson songs. The third and fourth disc comprise of great blues artists that were followed Johnson. They didn't gather a track per artist, but often have numerous songs. For example, for Muddy Waters on disc three they included all of the songs from his The Complete Plantation Recordings CD, which were recorded in 1941.  

Mississippi Blues, Vol. 4 - This album was originally released in 1987 and digitally remastered in 2007. Four tracks by Otto Virgil, 11 by by Robert Johnson and eight by  Robert Lockwood.
Additional Robert Johnson content
Acoustic Blues Innovators
Me and Mr. Johnson (Eric Clapton's R. J. tribute)
Blues best

The Road to Robert Johnson Mississippi Blues, Vol. 4
CD reviews - Artist profiles - Discography

Norah Jones 

Come Away With Me The Little Willies
Norah Jones is undeniable exceptional. What grabs me is how easy her music is to listen to. More impressive is how she reaches across so many genres and yields such a pleasant sound. She meshes elements of '70s singer / songwriter-style, jazz, pop, blues, and even country into her music. 

My favorite Norah Jones release is her first one, Come Away With Me. On it, her band is really good offering a really fresh sound. Bassist Lee Alexander and guitarist Jesse Harris write a fair number of the original material, and Jones adds a few as well. A few guests appear on various songs including guitar master Bill Frisell.

At the time of this writing, Norah Jones has four solo recordings. She was a member The Little Willies release that enjoy quite a bit and highly recommend that. 

More: Norah Jones profile

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