America, Highway — 30 Years of America (Rhino) — A three-disc retrospective spanning the three-decade career of the ’70s folk-rock hitmakers. Its 64 tracks include five that were previously unreleased, plus such hits as “A Horse With No Name,” “Ventura Highway,” “Tin Man” and “Sister Golden Hair.”
Chris Ardoin and Double Clutchin’, Best Kept Secret (Rounder) — Modern, rocking zydeco set that includes righteous covers of the Temptations hit “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and Sheryl Crow‘s “If It Makes You Happy” (the latter paired in a medley with Ardoin’s “It Just Ain’t Right”).
Big Sister, So Hi How Are You (Capricorn) — After self-releasing three albums, the all-female blues-rock sextet from Woodstock, N.Y., make their label debut with 13 original funky blues-rock songs produced by Phish engineer John Siket.
Nappy Brown, Night Time Is the Right Time (WEA/Savoy Jazz) — A 34-track collection of recordings made by the gospel-shouter-turned-blues-belter in the 1950s and ’60s, including his two best-known rocking hits, “The Right Time” (later covered by Ray Charles) and “Don’t Be Angry.”
Buckwheat Zydeco, Ultimate Collection (Hip-O/Universal) — Clifton Chenier‘s accordion-playing, pop-friendly protégé made waves in the ’80s when he became the first zydeco artist to sign with a major label. This 21-track collection of his greatest hits includes Bob Dylan‘s “On a Night Like This,” “Hot Tamale Baby,” “Ya Ya,” “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Ma ‘Tit Fille” and “Zydeco Honky Tonk.”
The Chieftains, The Chieftains 3 & 4 (Division One/Claddagh/Atlantic) — Reissue on two discs of the traditional Irish band’s third and fourth albums, originally released in 1971 and 1973, respectively. 3 includes “Trip to Sligo,” “Hunter’s Purse” and “Sonny’s Mazurka/Tommy Hunt’s Jig.” The critically well received 4 offers “Morgan Magan,” “Tip of the Whistle,” “Morning Dew” and “Cherish the Ladies.”
John Doe Thing, Freedom Is … (Spin Art) — Fourteen tracks from the X-man-turned-actor and intriguing songwriter, including “Glass-Phalt,” “Too Many Goddamn Bands,” “Telephone by the Bed,” “Someday/No Day.”
John Lee Hooker, Detroit: 1948-1949 (WEA/Savoy Jazz) — Compilation of old recordings by the legendary Delta bluesman includes “Like a Woman,” “Twister Blues” and several previously unreleased tracks.
Mighty Sam McClain, Papa True Love: Amy Sessions (Sundazed) — Eighteen tracks recorded by the aptly nicknamed blues-soul singer at Muscle Shoals between 1966 and 1969, including “Fannie Mae,” “In the Same Old Way,” “I’m a Man,” Don Gibson‘s classic “Sweet Dreams (Of You), “I Need a Lot of Lovin’,” and the previously unreleased “A Stranger to Me.”
Chris Smither, Live as I’ll Ever Be (HighTone) — Recorded live in the United States and Ireland, this album comprises a few amusing anecdotes and 14 songs from Smither’s last four studio records, including the beautiful “No Love Today,” “Small Revelations” and “Slow Surprise,” plus covers of Robert Johnson‘s “Dust My Broom” and Rolly Sally‘s haunting “Killin’ the Blues.”
Various artists, Alan Lomax Collection — Caribbean Voyage: Trinidad — Carnival Roots: The 1962 Field Recordings (Rounder) — Culled from the seemingly bottomless trove of field recordings made by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, this calypso-laced collection uses Trinidad’s Shrovetide festival to explore the African-Caribbean roots from which the region’s modern music has emerged. Remastered to 24-bit digital.
Various artists, Absolutely the Best of the Blues, Vol. 2 (Fuel 2000/Varese Sarabande) — Compilation of 14 remastered blues classics from the likes of Big Bill Broonzy (“Baby Don’t Go”), Jimmy Reed (“Can’t Stand To Love”), Mississippi John Hurt (“Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor”), John Lee Hooker (“Hard Times”), Big Joe Williams with Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry and Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Early Morning Blues”), Big Joe Turner (“Night Time Is the Right Time”), Buddy Guy (“This Is the End”) and Wynonie “Peppermint” Harris (“Bad Bad Whiskey”).
Various artists, Smokin’ Blues (MCA/Special Products) — Another compilation of classy blues nuggets, this one featuring Bobby Bland, B.B. King, Etta James, Little Milton, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and others.
(Click here for a full report on this week’s releases.)