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Robert Johnson – King of the Delta Blues Singers (1961/1970) review

February 24, 2014

Robert Johnson – King of the Delta Blues Singers (1961/1970) review

Robert Johnson “King of the Delta Blues Singers” (Music On Vinyl, 1961-1970/2013) 
Throughout successive generations, guitar players who’ve
wanted to align themselves, especially, with the pre-war blues scene have
looked to one name in particular, Robert Johnson. OK, sure there were a good
few others too, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Son House readily jump to mind,
however, none would strike the imagination more strongly than that of Robert
Johnson, whose reverence, partly due to an enigmatic and mercurial persona, is
forever assured and second to none in the world of blues, rock and beyond.
Also, something of the simplistic yet unduplicable nature of many of his songs
is another facet of why this true blues pioneer was, and still is, such an
attraction with a strangely magnetic pull on music lovers – guitar players
perhaps especially?
Mississippi-born Johnson’s highly-individual style of
playing and singing, heard here on a catalogue of intensely captivating songs,
is, I would say, beyond compare. Like many blues wailers down the years
Johnson’s songs dealt with internal strife and women-centred turmoil alongside
the twin spectres of alcohol and violence, which seemed seemed to compound
Johnson’s life in song.
One is being constantly reminded while listening to this
latest set of remasters (that made up the original first volume of King Of The
Delta Blues Singers) of the immense power inherent in such songs as ‘Hellhound
On My Trail’, ‘Travelling Riverside Blues’, the indefatigable ‘Come On In My
Kitchen’ and many more pure and unsullied classics besides. The performances,
seemingly effortless most of the time, flow out again and again, the button on
the primitive tape device pressed to record, thus capturing for all time a
succession of truly unbelievable  sounds.
That’s why the likes of the ‘Stones, Clapton and Zeppelin were in awe!
Moreover, and this far down the line too – seventy-odd years or thereabouts –
most of these selections still cannot be matched, either for the qualities
already outlined above, or for the highly-charged atmosphere which they bring
to any room that cares to air them. The sheer quality and gut-wrenching emotion
within Johnson’s vocal alone is indefinable, and hard to beat, but when you add
in his trailblazing guitar technique that sits atop or underneath then the
combinatory results become absolutely peerless.
As the technology (and the skills of the technicians) put in
place to rediscover and re-evaluate many of these ancient old blues recordings
gets better; and to be able to hear, say, the closeness of a particular piece
of slide action, or a partly hidden vocal nuance, or other subtlety that was
maybe a little lost in some previously issued edition that, perhaps, has now
become much clearer; without losing any of the edge, grit and downright
primitive genius of what sourced it, then yeah, that’s also cause for celebration.
I suppose one of the main purposes in making newly available reissues of such
as these unforgettable Robert Johnson recordings, is (as with everything else)
to try to turn on new generations of people to what are, in Robert Johnson’s
case anyway, incredible, and fearsomely important works.
It only remains to say that if you don’t already have like
one or two of the K.O.T.D.B.S. variations that were issued donkeys years ago on
CBS (or more recently on CD), then I heartily recommend running out and scoring
this brand new one if you can. You’ll be sure glad you did.
 Review made by Lenny Helsing/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
One Comment
  1. dennymour

    Yeah “Robert Johnson”! That is my favorite buddy among all the blues singers. I am also an extreme fan of this band as well the singers attached with this band. Please shortlist some super hit songs recognized by this band, here on this blog.

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