' Heritage of the Blues: The Complete Hightone Sessions
is a welcome if strange reissue. In a sense, none of the tracks here have been issued before -- at least not in this form. These sessions took place over two years in the Octobers of 1996 and 1997 in Chicago. There are 15 tracks here, including Perkins
classic originals such as "Down in Mississippi," "Take It Easy Baby," "Song for Sunnyland," "Big Fat Mama," "Little Girl, Little Girl," and others. Yes, "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" is here, too. Unaccompanied, Perkins
runs through these tunes in an intimate and utterly compelling manner, turning the middle eights into wondrously dexterous right-hand workouts, and his voice is still in fine shape here. What is so strange is that some of these tunes are recorded on an electric piano, making them sound tinny, reedy, and oddly more home-style than barrelhouse. Even so, Perkins
' trademark slippery right hand is in fine supply here, as are his strange, open-ended, and extrapolated chords. It's a gentle workout, one that is as laid-back as it is articulate and soulful, but this is a different side of Perkins
, one that balances out the profile of a giant and master. Despite the weird timbres, Heritage of the Blues
is a fine and even essential Perkins
recording to own.