By Chip Deffaa
Updated September 06, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

This follow-up to the Smithsonian’s 1993 set The Blues gathers 80 varied sides, mixing blues of social consciousness (Big Bill Broonzy’s ”Black, Brown, and White”), blues that influenced folksingers (Elizabeth Cotten’s ”Freight Train”), blues tinged with jazz (Jimmy Witherspoon on ”Sweets’ Blues”), and blues favored by rock & rollers (Roy Brown’s ”Good Rockin’ Tonight”). Mean Old World: The Blues From 1940 to 1994 is so strong that the occasional trivialities (Slim Harpo’s ”Baby Scratch My Back”) stick out like oddities. An extraordinary collection of riches. A