Chess Blues Classics, 1947–1956 — Various Artists
Chess Records, perhaps the greatest blues label of all time, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1997 with a slew of major artist compilations as well as selected label anthologies that tell the story of Chess — and modern blues — with exquisite results. This 16-track collection includes Muddy Waters's “I Can't Be Satisfied,” which set the Chess urban blues wheels in motion in 1947, and concludes with Waters's devilishly sexy, “Rock Me.” In between are tracks by Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter, the vastly underrated J.B. Lenoir, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson and others, who help construct the early chapters of the Chess story. Essential listening for anyone eager to learn of the origins of modern blues.
— Robert Santelli