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Various Artists, The Millennium Collection: The Best of Blues Classics (MCA)
It's an interesting phenomenon that a collection of 12 truly classic songs by a dozen sterling blues artists can end up sounding good, but not great. Because of the mysterious process of sequencing, this disc can play straight through like a slightly above average compilation. The solution is to put this disc on random play or hit repeat to tune into something that's grabbing for attention and then watch the magic re-emerge. In 1956, Muddy Waters set down "Got My Mojo Working" that comes out here in sparkling clarity. All the tunes have been digitally remastered with a careful hand and ear to great advantage. If the listener has spent decades listening to these very songs on scratchy vinyl or hissing tape, and when you're talking about Mae Thornton's 1952 version of "Hound Dog" or Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me to Talkin'", this newfound clarity is nothing to be sniffed at. While blues purists might prefer a different sort of series, and blues snobs most definitely would, this comp likely isn't aimed at them, but more towards the person who might take a chance on a low-price blues anthology at the local box store. That person won't be disappointed.