The music Earl Hooker and Junior Wells made together demonstrates the blues in transition, still upholding its traditions but recasting them in a format that reflected the musical taste of contemporary black society. Shortly after these records were produced, the Blues Boom shifted the music’s focus on to young white audiences. The tracks featured here represent some of the last instances of Chicago blues being produced for the artists’ own community.
Bear Family, the venerable German label that does reissue boxes of U.S. artists better than any American label – with the possible exception of Mosaic – has taken the cream of Kitty Wells' career and issued one of the most historically important collections in the history of country music. The Queen of Country Music is a four-CD box, with exhaustive biographical and session notes by Charles Wolfe that document, in their entirety, nine years of Ms. Wells career, from its inception through to its turning point and superstardom, the years 1949 to 1958; there are 114 tracks in all. Along with every major hit and B-side from the eras, the set includes classic original versions of "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," "Hey Joe!," "I Hear the Jukebox Playing," "Lonely Side of Town," "Making Believe," "Dust on the Bible," "The Place That Kills," "Right or Wrong," "Just When I Needed You," "The Great Speckled Bird," "Jealousy," and many others.
Olivia Ruiz rose to fame in 2001 as a contestant on the first edition of the TV reality show Star Academy, the French equivalent of American Idol. Subsequently, Ruiz exploited her popularity to secure a record deal and pursue a solo career. Certainly, her Star Academy background has been both a curse and a blessing for Ruiz. On the one hand it allowed her to become a recording artist; on the other it made her immediately suspicious to critics and music lovers, because of the dubious musical merits of such shows. It is thus an unexpected and pleasant surprise to realize than in her solo albums Ruiz is firmly bent in disowning the Star Academy stigma, enthusiastically embracing instead the French chanson genre. More surprising still is the fact that she actually fully succeeded in her goals with the release of her second album, La Femme Chocolat. A marked improvement, both artistically and commercially, over her 2003 debut, J'aime Pas l'Amour, La Femme Chocolat sold over a million copies and turned Ruiz into one of the best-paid French female singers of her generation.