2010 four CD anthology from the British Blues legend. John Mayall's band, The Bluesbreakers, were undoubtedly a hot-house for the British Blues scene in the late '60s and early `70s and it's quite staggering when you examine the roll call of floating members who served their apprenticeship with John Mayall including Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, Keef Hartley, John McVie, Mick Taylor and Steve Winwood. This lavish box set contains 74 tracks, all newly remastered from the original master tapes, including five tracks released in Europe on CD for the first time. The 40-page booklet features sleevenotes by Mark Powell with rare and previously unseen photographs.
So Many Roads is Hammond's most notable mid-'60s Vanguard album, due not so much to Hammond's own singing and playing (though he's up to the task) as the yet-to-be-famous backing musicians. Three future members of the Band – Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson, and Levon Helm – are among the supporting cast, along with Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, and Mike Bloomfield also contributes. It's one of the first fully realized blues-rock albums, although it's not in the same league as the best efforts of the era by the likes of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band or John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. In part that's because the repertoire is so heavy on familiar Chicago blues classics by the likes of Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, and Muddy Waters; in part that's because the interpretations are so reverent and close to the originals in arrangement; and in part it's also because Hammond's blues vocals were only okay.
Two classic Hooker LPs, all digitally re-mastered, 22 solid slabs of dark, leathery, brooding nostalgia. This is the electric blues at its very roots. If there’s still anyone out there reading this magazine who hasn’t at least one Hooker album in their collection, then you’re still a long way from qualifying as a blues aficionado. So this is a good place to start. This stripped-bare, one man and a growling electric guitar (on most tracks) music is the stuff those guys who fled the south for the auto production lines in the north used to listen to.