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Classic Album Review: Various Artists | Balling the Jack: The Birth of the Nu-Blues

This is a compilation album every bit as good as a mix tape you’d make for yourself.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


What do Tom Waits, North Mississippi Allstars, Nick Cave, TheSoft Boys, Billy Childish, Moby, R.L. Burnside, Captain Beefheart, Cowboy Junkies and Diamanda Galas have in common?

Well, for one thing, they all play music inspired by or derived from the blues. For another, they’re the sort of cool underground artists who don’t typically surface on compilation albums. Until now, that is. Balling the Jack collects standout tracks from all of them, along with cuts from cool customers like Asie Payton, Johnny Dowd, Bob Logg III, Reid Paley, Gary Lucas and Pig In A Can. The point? To show just how far the blues have spread from their humble Delta roots. The result? One of the few compilation albums that’s every bit as good as a mix tape you’d make for yourself.