Various Artists – Deep Feeling (review)

Various Artists – Deep Feeling – 75 Masterpieces by 31 Blues Guitar Heroes (Fantastic Voyage) review

3-CD’s of classic guitar-dominated blues

In the postwar Chicago blues era of the Fifties and early Sixties, the goal of every blues artist was to find the dirtiest guitar sound possible.  Mind you, this was way before effects pedals made dialing up the perfect sound easy.  Many of these artists stabbed and abused their amplifiers to obtain that ideal tone.  Deep Feeling, a 3-disc set of blues guitar heroes, chronicles that quest.

Like other releases from Fantastic Voyage Records, what makes this set so enjoyable is the mixing of stone-cold classics, like Freddie King’s “I’m Tore Down,” alongside relative unknowns like “Stinkin’ Drunk” by Gene Phillips.  Oh, and there’s plenty of dirty-sounding guitar – whether it’s John Lee Hooker’s sandpaper tone on “Jump Me (One More Time),” or the bee-sting attack on “Don’t Throw Your Love on Me So Strong” by Albert King, there’s lots to please.  On “No Shoes,” Eddie Kirkland’s guitar sounds like it’s in the next room, while Bo Diddley’s “Bo’s Guitar” is heavily Vibro-effected.

Borrowing from other songs was commonplace in the blues – “Well Goodbye Baby” is very close to Muddy Waters’ “Trouble No More,” while “I’m Gonna Love You” from Eddie Taylor is the same backing as “Feelin’ Good” from Little Junior Parker, and “A Good Woman is Hard to Find” from Hop Wilson borrows heavily from “Kind-Hearted Woman” from Robert Johnson.

There’s lots of famous King’s here – Albert, BB & Freddie, yet it’s Earl King that really shines with cuts like “Eating and Sleeping” and “I’m Your Best Bet, Baby.”

The little-known nugget “Forgive Me Darling” from the Ohio Untouchables is another one you’re not going to find anywhere else.  An example of near-perfect guitar tone comes from Pete “Guitar” Lewis on the Johnny Otis instrumental track “Hangover Blues.” Coming in second place is the very dirty “I’m Your Boogie Man” from John Lee Hooker.  Or the slightly out of tune “Sum’thin’ to Remember You By” from Guitar Slim.

Some of the early rock n’ roll pioneers are given a chance to flex their blues chops –  Chuck Berry shows off his little-heard use of the slide guitar, and Bo Diddley blurs the line between genres with “Mona (I Need You Baby).” “Groaning the Blues” from Otis Rush plods along at a funeral procession pace, while “I Don’t Go For That” is a harder-edged track than typically heard from Jimmy Reed.   B.B. King’s “Please Love Me” is an earthier recording than the heavily horns and strings that would adorn his later recordings.

With its excellent mix of familiar and obscure, Deep Feeling makes a fantastic compilation for the beginning blues’ fans or long-time aficionados.   —Tony Peters