This 19-track compilation focuses on Elmore James' crucial sessions recorded for the Modern Records subsidiaries Meteor and Flair between 1952 and 1956. At the time of these recordings, the distorted amplified sound of James' slide guitar with his unmistakable electrified Robert Johnson lick was helping map out the postwar blues idiom with such classics as "I Believe," "Blues Before Sunrise," "Wild About You," "Mean & Evil," and the extraordinary reworking of Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom" into "Dust My Blues." Even though roughly half of these tracks appear on the equally recommended 1986 Ace release Let's Cut It: The Very Best of Elmore James, this set is a great introduction to the dynamic slide guitarist's earliest recordings.
L7 had the sound, style, and tough-grrrl attitude to hit it big in the aftermath of grunge's mainstream breakthrough, but unfortunately, the band was too often hampered by uneven songwriting. The Best of L7: The Slash Years collects four songs apiece from Bricks Are Heavy, Hungry for Stink, and The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum (although, as the title suggests, there's nothing from the fine Sub Pop album Smell the Magic). It's a pretty good distillation of the cream of those records, even if there are still a few tunes on Bricks Are Heavy that could have made the cut on a less mathematically selected best-of. In fact, as L7's most pop-oriented record, Bricks Are Heavy is still a slightly more accessible introduction, since following that album, the band tended to rely more on sheer power than melody. Nevertheless, The Best of L7: The Slash Years does encapsulate what the group was all about, and it's a great way to dig deeper into their catalog without having to buy all the individual albums.