20 Songs, 54 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Blues Came Down from Memphis is essentially an expanded 2006 reissue of an identically titled 1966 release on the U.K.-based Charly Records. That 1966 title exposed a generation of English teens to the gnarled roots of rock 'n' roll, and this newer incarnation serves as an essential primer in the strange cultural alchemy that birthed American popular music as we know it. The set opens with Dr. Ross’ feral “Boogie Disease," which yoked the hypnotic monochord groove pioneered by Johnny Lee Hooker to a rock-solid drumbeat provided by Robert Parker. The sides that follow are equally explosive, from Rufus Thomas’ leering putdown “Bear Cat" to James Cotton’s searing “Cotton Crop Blues," which features an unbelievably distorted guitar lead from Pat Hare. Hare also provides the slick, Hooker-influenced lead work on Junior Parker’s 1954 side “Mystery Train." That track made a deep impression on the young Elvis Presley, who would rework Parker’s tune into a memorably spectral rockabilly groove only two years later.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Blues Came Down from Memphis is essentially an expanded 2006 reissue of an identically titled 1966 release on the U.K.-based Charly Records. That 1966 title exposed a generation of English teens to the gnarled roots of rock 'n' roll, and this newer incarnation serves as an essential primer in the strange cultural alchemy that birthed American popular music as we know it. The set opens with Dr. Ross’ feral “Boogie Disease," which yoked the hypnotic monochord groove pioneered by Johnny Lee Hooker to a rock-solid drumbeat provided by Robert Parker. The sides that follow are equally explosive, from Rufus Thomas’ leering putdown “Bear Cat" to James Cotton’s searing “Cotton Crop Blues," which features an unbelievably distorted guitar lead from Pat Hare. Hare also provides the slick, Hooker-influenced lead work on Junior Parker’s 1954 side “Mystery Train." That track made a deep impression on the young Elvis Presley, who would rework Parker’s tune into a memorably spectral rockabilly groove only two years later.

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