This smart, stimulating three-disc set is one of the better explorations of rock 'n' roll's origins, as it takes a broad view of the process and doesn't settle for the usual cast of characters populating similar historical anthologies. Although the collection is properly weighted in favor of rock 'n' roll's R&B forerunners, it doesn't neglect the rhythm-bound contributions made by country artists such as Hank Snow (represented here by his propulsive "I'm Movin' On"), Hank Williams ("Move It On Over"), Merle Travis ("Merle's Boogie Woogie"), Tennessee Ernie Ford (the rollicking "Shotgun Boogie"), and the Delmore Brothers ("Freight Train Boogie"). Disc 1 begins with Lionel Hampton's jump blues raver, "Hey! Ba-Ba-Re-Bop," Disc 3 closes with Muddy Waters's hard blues grind, "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man," and in between the sequencing suggests how the former evolved into the latter as the years went on. Ivory Joe Hunter offers an R&B-pop fusion in his bluesy lament "I Almost Lost My Mind," and a few cuts later Johnny Ray & the Four Lads reverse Hunter's formula in the pop-R&B ballad classic, "Cry," while on Disc 3, Sonny Til and the Orioles offer a smoother, equally affecting pop-R&B vocal blend on "Crying in the Chapel." Disc 1 features T-Bone Walker working out on "Bobby Sox Blues," and Disc 3 finds B. B. King updating the T-Bone approach with the melodic, burnished blues of "You Upset Me Baby." On Disc 2, Billy Ward & the Dominoes deal some finger-poppin' R&B group harmony on "Sixty Minute Man," and on Disc 3 Hank Ballard & the Midnighters' pulsating "Work With Me Annie" shows off a more complex group harmony approach to a suggestive lyric. Mix in the appropriate giants judiciously, and this turns out to be an indispensable collection.