Classic Roots

Early Rock n’ Roll

Little Richard

From humble beginnings in segregated Georgia, Little Richard merged the inspiration of gospel with pounding rhythm & blues and a gleeful, wailing voice to alter the course of modern music throughout the world.

Little Richard biography

Please Please Me by The Beatles

While far from their greatest album, The Beatles‘ first album, Please Please Me perfectly captures the group as they transition from the roots rock group they were into the worldwide phenomenon they would become.

Review of Please Please Me

Chuck Berry

During the decade of the 1950s, Chuck Berry went from a part-time musician playing local gigs to supplement his income to one of the most successful and influential artists of the era.

Chuck Berry in the 1950s

Elvis Christmas Album by Elvis Presley

Released during the height of his initial popularity, Elvis Presley recorded a 20th century classic in just a few days in 1957. Elvis’ Christmas Album, in its many versions and incarnations, has gone on to sell over 13 million copies through the decades.

Review of Elvis’ Christmas Album

Motown / Soul

Live at the Apollo by James Brown

In 1962, James Brown entered the mecca of R&B theaters and tore the roof off, resulting in the incredible 1963 album, Live at the Apollo. The album was independently produced and financed by Brown and acted as the catalyst which launched phenomenal success for years to come.

Review of Live at the Apollo

Lady Soul by Aretha Franklin

The January 1968 release Lady Soul, Aretha Franklin‘s 14th overall studio album, captures the artist’s momentum as she evolved from Gospel singer to pop and soul superstar.

Review of Lady Soul

R&B / Gospel

Bo Diddley

Although Bo Diddley only had charting hits from the mid 1950s into the early 1960s, his incredible influence, musical longevity and developer of one of rock n’ roll’s most signature beats, have combined to make him a true legend.

More on Bo Diddley

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

A huge pioneer in the popularization of Gospel music and the development of rhythm and blues, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was also an influence on rock and roll during its first few decades of existence.

More on Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Dr John's Gumbo

A bit of a turn away from his early psychedelic-influenced work. Dr. John’s Gumbo is a finely performed and produced tribute to the distinct, traditional music of Dr. John‘s hometown of New Orleans.

Review of Dr. John’s Gumbo


Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels will be forever remembered for “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and his fiery fiddle playing. In truth, he had a long and successful career well before that classic song hit the charts in 1979.

Charlie Daniels tribute

Pieces of the Sky by Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris‘ major-label solo debut, Pieces of the Sky, quickly established her as an impeccable performer of an eclectic collection of songs. While true to the country genre, this album features a nice blend of folk, rock and bluegrass elements as well.

Review of Pieces of the Sky


A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

John Coltrane‘s 1965 record, A Love Supreme, was the pinnacle of his vast studio output. This four piece modal jazz suite compiled all of the innovations from his past while adding deep spirituality and glimpsing his future innovations.

Review of A Love Supreme

Milestones by Miles Davis

The 1958 Miles Davis album Milestones met a juncture of classic jazz and blues with a fused intro of modalism and free form soloing. The album is also notable as the first and only recording with Davis’ original sextet.

Review of Milestones

Classic Folk & Americana

Bob Dylan

As a result of his prolific and innovative songwriting through 1962 and 1963, the albums the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and The Times They Are a Changin’ firmly established Bob Dylan as an unparalleled artist in folk music and beyond.

Bob Dylan double album review

Heartattack and Vine by Tom Waits

The seventh album by Tom Waits, 1980’s Heartattack and Vine is a transitional album which features a wide array of styles and moods. This also marked the end of an era stylistically.

Review of Heartattack and Vine

Tracy Chapman 1988 debut

Although it arrived with little fanfare,Tracy Chapman‘s self-titled debut album quickly grew to became a landmark revival album for the singer/songwriter tradition.

More on Tracy Chapman

The Blues

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band 1965 debut

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band released their landmark, self-titled debut album in 1965. While this record was not an immediate commercial success, over the decades it has grown in critical accolades.

Review of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Delta Blues image

History of the Blues, Part 1
History of the Blues, Part 2

Other Traditional Genres

In the near future, Roots Rock Review will cover the rich potpourri of (mainly) American genres from the beginnings of recorded music in the early 20th century through 1964 (our sister publication Classic Rock Review covers form 1965 forward). Some of theses early genres we will cover include:

  • Classic Country
  • Bluegrass
  • Pop / Big Band