What is also lost is the fact he was a great blues singer who sang with great urgency and power. John Broven’s liner notes describe the background of James’ career, and based on his interview of legendary record producer Bobby Robinson, details how Robinson, in Chicago for business, came across James playing in a club, leading to James recording The Sky is Crying, which helped rejuvenate his career.
The package is wonderfully mastered and is a must for anyone who lacks prior releases of this material. The James is the first significant blues reissue on Buddah, which apparently is becoming the major reissue imprint for BMG.
This review originally appeared in the July/August 2001 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 252) and the April 2001 DC Blues Calendar, then the DC Blues Society’s newsletter. This review was written before Steven Franz’s excellent biography of Elmore James The Amazing Secret History of Elmore James that states that Elmore deserves as much credit as Johnson for Dust My Broom, and that he did more than simply update Johnson’s recording.