R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz, & Country illustrated by R. Crumb ; text by Stephen Calt, David Jasen, and Richard Nevins ; introduction by Terry Zwigoff
Reviewed by John Glover, Reference Librarian for the Humanities
R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country is a combination book-and-compact disk set featuring various musicians from early in the era of recorded music, some well known, some less so. It had its genesis in a limited edition of "trading cards" illustrated by R. Crumb in the 1980s. These trading cards feature Crumb's unique cartooning style, depicting these musicians based on existing photographs.
Studying the images, in conjunction with the music from the CD, is a pleasurable experience. The capsule biographies of each musician lend backstory to songs that crackle and pop audibly. Listening to them, one gets something of the experience of the record collector listening to obscure glories, but without the concerns of heat warping, lamination crack, and so on. The images can be seen in various places, the songs heard in many formats, but getting the two of them at the same time is a trip back to the early 20th century.