From Bentonia, Miss., blues original Nehemiah "Skip" James was a difficult, haunted man who was torn—like many Southerners, black and white—between the Devil's music and God's word.

From Bentonia, Miss., blues original Nehemiah "Skip" James was a difficult, haunted man who was torn—like many Southerners, black and white—between the Devil's music and God's word. His 1930 trip to Wisconsin to record for Paramount is depicted in Wim Wenders' film, "The Soul of a Man," in the PBS series "The Blues." Some of those 1930 tracks are here, although this compilation also draws from James' smoother-sounding Vanguard sessions of the mid-'60s. His high, keening voice and idiosyncratic style on guitar and piano make James' blues hard to replicate. Despite its iconic status, "Devil Got My Woman"—a song featured centrally in not only Wenders' film but also cult hit "Ghost World"—has rarely been covered, although Cream recorded an electrified "I'm So Glad." New label Shout Factory licensed tracks from various companies in devising a series of new anthologies devoted to unsung blues luminaries, which also include Son House and Ma Rainey. Like the James disc, most feature covers by R. Crumb.—BB