I dunno if they teach it in the schools these days, but The Blues were one of the cornerstones of American music. True, the Blues had a baby (after a dalliance with country music, but that’s another story) and called it Rock & Roll, but what about this strange, uniquely American music born of underclass suffering (socio-economic and emotional) that went on to touch people and cultures all over this spinning mudball Earth? Well, if you need a tour you can carry in your backpack, briefcase or car, The Story of the Blues is indeed it. Without ever coming off as pedantic, it’s a guided tour of the music, starting with a glimpse of its African roots, to the acoustic country blues (Charley Patton, Mississippi John Hurt) to the transitional country-to-urban performers (Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Minnie, Lightnin’ Hopkins) to the shouters and electric Chicago blues that more directly laid the groundwork for both R&B and Rock & Roll (Joe Turner, Muddy Waters). True, the bulk of this collection focuses on the pre-WWII styles of blues, but hey, that’s a darn good thing, as unless you’re a Dedicated Musical Scholar it’s not exactly E-Z to sample pre-electric blues styles these days. This set was originally issued in 1970 as a two-record set (remember records?) - now it’s a 2-CD set with several bonus tracks bringing us closer to the Blues today (up to 2001). The extras cover the 1960s Blues Revival courtesy of the British (Jeff Beck w/ Rod Stewart) as well as choice Americans (Johnny Winter, Janis Joplin), and more modern practitioners like Stevie Ray Vaughn and Keb’ Mo.’ While no single-label compilation will ever be truly and totally all-embracing, this Story comes awful close. Not for the casual fan to be sure, but is mos def for sincere fans looking to get a representative picture of where the Blues have been and where they’re likely to go.