In relating both the simple joys and the everyday difficulties experienced by the Black community for more than a century, African-Americans’ foremost music has continually renewed its language in multiplying its overtures to the genres to which it successively gave birth: jazz, rhythm & blues, rock…
Saga Blues is a 50-album collection that proposes an incredibly varied journey through this inheritance, and it goes out to meet all the creators, styles and temples of Mecca that have made this music so rich for over one hundred years, music today recognized for its universal power of attraction.
The aim of the collection is to decline this eclecticism by means of two album categories: on the one hand, recordings devoted to the artists who contributed to write the history of this music; and on the other, anthologies (often unexpected), that are centered on regional trends, instruments or specific schools, and the great themes attached to the blues repertoire.
In this second domain, Saga Blues explores the blues’ talents for telling everyday stories in offering a brand-new, often moving portrait of America in the first half of the 20th century. We begin by taking an interest in the first Black song minstrels (The Songsters Tradition – Before the Blues), before moving on to explore the privileged ties linking the former-slave community with the Amerindians (Cherokee Boogie – Indians and the Blues). We visit the plantations where tenant-farmers continued to be unfairly exploited long after the slaves had gone (Plantation Blues – Cotton Patch and Tobacco Belt Blues), and pursue our wanderings through the Old South (Traveling Man – A Blues Travel Guide), halting in New Orleans, where blues with more rhythm to it made its appearance after the war (New Orleans Rhythm & Blues – Good Rockin’ Tonight), before moving on again, in the company of itinerant harmonica-players, along the natural way leading from the Delta to the great industrial cities of the Midwest (Harmonica Blues – Blowing from Memphis to Chicago).
In the Windy City, we scour the bars of the ghetto looking for skilled bottleneck players, the thrilling guitarists inspired by the Hawaiians (Chicago Slide Guitar Master : From Tampa Red to Elmore James); on the way through, we catch a glimpse of some of the risqué expressions hidden in lyrics with innocuous titles (She’s Your Cook… But She Burns My Bread Sometimes) before finding redemption in the Church, the crossroads of Afro-American music where the soul music of the 40’s was first drafted (From Gospel to Soul – When the Church Hits the Charts and Original Soul Sisters – Singing in My Soul).
This same spirit of curiosity lies behind the carefully planned anthologies devoted to the blues’ great creators. From the initiator of the Folk wave (Lead Belly – Blues and Folk Singer) to the pioneer of modern electric guitar (T-Bone Walker – Swinging the Blues), from the most overwhelmingly moving of the street preachers (Blind Willie Johnson – King of the Guitar Evangelists) to the harmonica player who revolutionized the practice of his instrument (Sonny Boy Williamson – The Original Sonny Boy), from the apostle of the post-war electric style (Muddy Waters – Screamin’ and Cryin’) to the emblematic figure of the Detroit school (John Lee Hooker – Blues from the Motor City), these biographical portraits from Saga Blues take great care to throw more light on the particularities of each of the artists. So we discover a King of the Blues fascinated by sentimental ballads (B.B. King – The Birth of a King), a guitar virtuoso whose refrains were both poetic and militant (Big Bill Broonzy – The Godfather of Chicago Blues), a Mississippi bard haunted by roaming demons (Robert Nighthawk – Ramblin’ Bob), or the most imaginative of the Texan bluesmen (Lightnin’ Hopkins – Houston Town Blues).
Each of these volumes has been conceived, produced and annotated by the genre’s greatest specialists, all of them recognized for the seriousness of their work. The detailed discographies are completed by fully-documented texts prepared to seduce the novice and enlighten the informed amateur, and they all have just that touch of humor that is unavoidable where the blues is concerned.
And when you add the polished digipak package to these advantages, together with the meticulous restoration of the original sound (24-bit remasters), the copious content (between 60 and 70 minutes of music) and a very pleasant price, you realize that the Saga Blues Collection has already become a landmark.
01 LEAD BELLY Blues & Folk Singer
02 BIG BILL BROONZY The Godfather of Chicago Blues
03 BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON King of the Guitar Evangelists
04 ROBERT NIGHTHAWK Ramblin’ Bob
05 T-BONE WALKER Swinging the Blues
06 LIGHTNIN’ HOPKINS Houston Town Blues
07 JOHN LEE ‘SONNY BOY’ WILLIAMSON The Original Sonny Boy
08 JOHN LEE HOOKER Blues from the Motor City
09 MUDDY WATERS Screamin’ and Cryin’
10 B.B. KING The Birth of a King
11 THE SONGSTERS TRADITION Before the Blues
12 PLANTATION BLUES Cotton Patch & Tobacco Belt Blues
13 TRAVELING MAN A Blues Travel Guide
14 SHE’S YOUR COOK …But She Burns My Bread Sometimes
15 CHEROKEE BOOGIE Indians & the Blues
16 FROM GOSPEL TO SOUL When the Church Hits the Charts
17 ORIGINAL SOUL SISTERS Singing in My Soul
18 NEW ORLEANS RHYTHM & BLUES Good Rockin’ Tonight
19 CHICAGO SLIDE GUITAR MASTERS From Tampa Red to Elmore James
20 HARMONICA BLUES Blowing from Memphis to Chicago
21 HOWLIN’ WOLF Moanin’ the Blues
22 SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE MCGHEE Harlem Troubadours
23 ELMORE JAMES Slide My Blues
24 CHARLES BROWN Cool Blues Singer
25 LITTLE WALTER Blowing with a Feeling
26 BLUESMEN SING SPIRITUALS When the Blues Go Marching in
27 TEXAS & LOUISIANA SLIDE MASTERS Blues & Western Swing Guitar Stylists
28 NEW YORK CITY BLUES The Big Apple Blues Scene 1951-1954
29 I’M A SOUL MAN Original Soul Brothers
30 VOODOO BLUES Hoodoo & Magical Practices
31 SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON II Harmonica Wizard
32 BIG JOE WILLIAMS Delta & Chicago Blues Founder
33 BUKKA WHITE Aberdeen Mississippi Blues
34 JOSH WHITE Bluesman, Guitar Evangelist, Folksinger
35 J.B. LENOIR Eisenhower Blues
36 MISSISSIPPI BLUES Delta Guitar Pioneers
37 MEMPHIS That’s Allright! From Blues to Rock ‘n’ Roll
38 SAINT LOUIS The First Urban Blues
39 KANSAS CITY Jumping the Blues from 6 to 6
40 SAN FRANCISCO Post-War California Down Home Blues
41 BLACK, BROWN & BEIGE Skin Colors and the Blues
42 BLACK HEROES From Stagger Lee to Joe Louis
43 BLUESWOMEN Girls Play and Sing the Blues
44 BLUES vs. ROCK AND ROLL Elvis Pays Tribute to the Blues
45 RHYTHM AND BLUES No. 1 Chart Hits 1949-1955
46 JOHN LEE HOOKER From Detroit to Chicago 1954-1958
47 MUDDY WATERS Natural Born Lover 1954-1958
48 B.B. KING The West Coast Years 1954-1958
49 THE YOUNG LIONS Chicago Blues Guitar Heroes
50 BLACK ROCKERS The Real Pioneers of Rock’n’Roll