Ramblers, Gamblers, Vagabonds and Revelers
Nothing comes out of nowhere, and although rock & roll seems to literally burst from the ground full of rattling, rolling, and roaring in the late '50s, it was a blender of blues, hillbilly country, jazz solos, string band reels on steroids, jump blues, and anything else that seemed to fit and generate some power and steam. It was a music made for car radios when car radios hit the market, and in love with power, sound, and motion, rock & roll motored on over the hill, flashing sparks and trails that are still driving much of the pop music of the first decade of the 21st century. How do you bottle those roots? It's close to impossible, really, but this four-disc, 100-track Proper Records box set attempts to do just that, and by choosing songs from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s that fed rock & roll's thematic side, songs of rambling, gambling, and motion, this set actually does catch the attitude of rock & roll well before the genre ever burst on the scene. One can listen to it that way, as a wonderful jukebox placed at the wellsprings of rock & roll, but with classic tracks from Charlie Poole, Peg Leg Howell, Muddy Waters, Blind Lemon Jefferson, the Stanley Brothers, Hank Williams, Blind Willie McTell, Bessie Smith, and dozens of others, one can just as easily listen to it as an expansive playlist of early American roots music, and not spend much time worrying about where it all led to. There's really nothing new under the sun. People still ramble, gamble, and either seek or hope for redemption (or both), and they still sing about it, rap about it, and listen to it in their cars motoring over the hills. Maybe it started here. It doesn't really matter. This is a great playlist wherever things ended up going.