The blues continues to pour down in reissues, compilations and box sets. Century Of The Blues is superbly assembled to commemorate the centenary of the day in 1903 when WC Handy encountered a "lean, loose-jointed negro" playing a guitar in the style he was the first to name "the blues". There's no attempt to claim the music as a contemporary art form, for the selection ends mid-century. Even BB King, the only name here who's still working, is represented by a 1950 recording.
Stevens launched Deram, Decca's off-shoot progressive label, in 1966 with "I Love My Dog", followed by further hits "Matthew & Son" and "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun"—ingenious, idiosyncratic, albeit lightweight pop. Like label-mate Bowie, Stevens was clearly an unorthodox talent. Typically, the singles and B-sides then bolstered Stevens' debut album, an impressive, diverse collection despite Mike Hurst's archaic production and fussy arrangements. By New Masters, Hurst was deploying an even heavier trowel.