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In Memphis, Wilkins the bluesman was a musical terror, playing an astonishing variety of blues, ragtime, and original material that combines incisive lyrical imagery with a strong narrative line and song structures unlike anyone else's. With his rapid-fire guitar chops and astonishing versatility, he was a shoe-in for tavern jobs, and remembered acing several better-known bluesmen out of gigs. But unlike those he ran with, Wilkins never developed much of a taste for alcohol, and during the late-thirties, appalled by the casual violence at a Mississippi house party he was playing, he swore off "the Devil's music," becoming a sanctified preacher and a healer, specializing in herbal remedies. This apparently world-shattering change in Wilkins' lifestyle and metaphysical loyalties had little impact on his music. In the grand tradition of American vernacular song, "My Baby" became "My Lord," the oddly structured blues-ballad "That's No Way To Get Along" became an epic Biblical narrative, "The Prodigal Son," and Wilkins went right on playing. During the fifties and sixties, the earlier blues lost its savor for black audiences before it attracted the notice of many whites; Wilkins' peers tended to let their guitars get rusty, but not Wilkins. Around the time the sterling performances collected here were being recorded, he was probably at the very height of his powers