Sometimes the best way to get to know a performer whose music you're not familiar with, is to buy a greatest hit package that spans the length and breadth of his or her career. Ideally the package will reflect any and all changes and evolutions their music went through. After listening to the anthology not only should you have a good idea of what the person is capable of, but also be able to decide what if any other of his or her music you want to buy.
This is especially helpful when you are dealing with an exceptionally prolific musician whose career has seen a good deal of changes. Recently there has been an expansion on the way in which anthologies are used. They are now coming out as themed packages as well as retrospectives of a career.
In the last couple of years there has been at least two discs that have focused on women in music; Blues Guitar Women and La Guitara which encompassed more than just rock and roll to include Jazz and Classical guitar women as well. Although there was some duplication between the recordings they both managed to offer introductions to figures who on their own might not have received the amount of attention that the collections earned.
Similar to those of the previously mentioned collections, combined with a desire to celebrate their twelfth anniversary, Ruf Records of Germany has released Ruf Records Anthology: 12 Years Of The Blues Crossing Over. This is a two disc set, a CD plus a DVD, representing the highlights of each of the twelve years of their existence.
In his liner notes for the compilation, Thomas Ruf, founder of the label, says he wanted to select a song from what he considered each of the twelve years' most significant recordings. Those familiar with the label will recognize some of the songs as being on releases they may have heard before but others represent some of the less heralded performers on the label who may have flown under their radar or some old favourites who have found new life across the ocean.
For instance, although the opening track on the CD, "Working Overtime" is from Walter Trout's highly successful Full Circle disc (fifteen weeks on the Billboard charts and going strong) that features a duet between Walter and his new label mate Jeff Healy, the disc also includes such gems as "White Trash Girl" from Candye Kane's release of the same name.
Candye is larger then life with a voice like sandpaper mixed with honey that cuts like a chainsaw through all the shit that's not important. If this song is anything to go by, she's blues in the tradition of the old style blues woman whose voice demands your respect, no matter what else you may think of her. Like Bessie Smith and Big Momma Thornton before her, she has presence so out of the ordinary that it is extraordinary.