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Historical set also a great listen

The Fire/Fure Records Story
Capricorn Records Presents the Fire/Fury Records Story
By various artists

Capricorn Records: 1992

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This review first appeared in the Summer 1993 edition of Blues Revue Quarterly magazine (now Blues Revue).

This beautifully illustrated, lovingly annotated two-CD set traces the history of Bobby Robinson's Fire, Fury and Enjoy labels. Fury, Fire and Enjoy specialized in R&B,with a heavy dose of blues thrown in.

Just looking over the hits and artists from Fire and Fury makes you realize what a huge impact Robinson had on American popular music, as well as the blues. (Robinson, who was still operating the Enjoy label when this was released, was one of the first to record rap artists, including Grandmaster Flash way back in the late '70s.) From Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City" and Elmore James' original version of "The Sky is Crying" and "Shake Your Moneymaker" (plus a great remake of "Dust My Broom") to Gladys Knight and the Pips' first recordings, from Lightnin' Hopkins to Buster Brown to Noble "Thin Man" Watts, this is a veritable encyclopedia of American blues and R&B from the 1950s and early '60s.

Here you'll find a remake of the song that reportedly inspired Elvis Presley to become a singer – Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right." You'll find the idiosyncratic Dr. Horse (Dr. Pittman) and his singularly titled "Jack, That Cat Was Clean" and "Salt Pork, West Virginia." You'll find a pre-Anson Funderburgh Sam Myers singing "You Don't Have to Go."

The liner note booklet accompanying the two CDs is lavish. It features in introduction by Phil Walden, founder and president of Capricorn Records, which issues this set; a biography of Fire/Fury/Enjoy founder Bobby Robinson by Diana Reid Haig; notes on different tracks by Robinson himself; and a history of the labels by John Morthland. All the writing is concise and informative, and there are plenty of photographs.

There's a history here that most labels – even the so-called major labels – just can't touch. And beyond the sense of history is the very listenable nature of this collection. Taken from the original master tapes and digitally remastered, this release has excellent sound quality to go along with the incredible song selection and high-quality packaging.