Blues Lounge: Explore the blues in your favorite formats

Find out what's new in the blues, plus new books, too!
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The North Mississippi Allstars honor their origins by naming their new studio CD Hernando (Songs Of The South) after their hometown.

Its 11 clutter-free blues-rock tracks (mostly from their pens) similarly reflect their eclectic roots, stating with slinky swamp boogie “Shake.” “Soldier” mirrors the trio’s grounding in folk gospel.

An adaptation of Champion Jack Dupree’s “I’d Love To Be A Hippy” evolves from drollery to dead seriousness. Luther Dickinson’s guitar can scream like a metal band’s or pensively smoke. Jim Dickinson — Luther and bassist Cody Dickinson’s noted studio-veteran dad — again handles production.

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With anthems like “Roll Over Beethoven” and “School Days,” Chuck Berry earned the nickname “poet laureate of teen America.”

Yet instrumentals such as “Blue Feeling” and “21 Blues” show guitarist Berry’s background in relaxed Midwestern blues — like pianists Johnnie Johnson’s and Lafayette Leake’s. Berry’s thoroughly annotated four-CD, 103-cut Johnny B. Goode: His Complete ’50s Chess Recordings (Chess/Hip-O Select/Universal) is for his most ardent devotees.

For example, among the 26-track Disc 2’s 13 different songs, we find five “Sweet Little Sixteen” takes — demo, original master, sped-up originally released single and more. Alongside numerous instrumentals, the box’s curiosities include pop standard “That’s My Desire” played as a cha-cha.

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Kokomo Arnold’s slyly metaphorical “Milk Cow Blues” has been reinterpreted by everyone from Elvis Presley (at Sun) to Doc And Merle Watson.

Levon Helm (who richly deserves his recent Grammy for Dirt Farmer) gave it a New Orleans groove. His “Milk Cow” is freshly reissued on Levon Helm And The RCO All-Stars/American Son (Raven), combining his first and third solo LPs (1977 and 1980) after The Band’s 1976 disbanding. The Band’s vibe is especially evident on All-Stars (the stronger album), where Levon rocks back to his Arkansas R&B/blues roots.

Recorded with Nashville sessionmen, Son gels less, though its “Hurricane” now seems prescient in our post-Katrina consciousness.

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Stevie Ray Vaughan & Friends’ Solos, Sessions & Encores (Epic/Legacy) emphasizes the late Texas blues guitarist (1954-90) backing others on their discs (B.B. King and Johnny Copeland) and in previously unissued collaborations (with brother Jimmy Vaughan, Albert Collins and Bonnie Raitt).

The 14-cut disc ends ironically with surf guitarist Dick Dale’s “Pipeline” and David Bowie’s disco “Let’s Dance.”

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