Featuring all the hits you need from his 2000 to 2010 catalog, The Essential Popa Chubby
is a great primer for newcomers and an easily portable hits collection for fans on their way to another blistering show. Speaking of the electric bluesman’s live show, three cuts off his live album Big Man Big Guitar
are included here, all of them prime examples of how the stage trumps a sterile studio when it comes to Popa
’s gritty sound. Still, The Essential
does a fine job picking the prime cuts off the studio efforts, as numbers like “Somebody Let the Devil Out,” “Life Is a Beatdown,” and “Deliveries After Dark” are fan favorites and staples of Chubby
’s live set. The collection is generally laid out chronologically, making for an odd start on first listen as two selections from the mellower album How’d a White Boy Get the Blues?
are the openers. The compilers wisely break this time line by choosing a smoking 2004 recording of “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life” for the closer, exiting on what is arguably the high point of Chubby
’s career thus far.