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  • Legend of Tommy Johnson Act 1
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Legend of Tommy Johnson Act 1

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Audio CD, October 9, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Through his portrayal of Tommy Johnson (the real-life composer of "Canned Heat Blues"), Chris Thomas King brought some Delta blues to the bluegrass-driven O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. In addition to providing a cinematic breakthrough for the New Orleans-based artist, the role has sparked King's finest album in more than a decade, with a cycle of songs inspired by (but not included in) the movie. Channeling the musical spirit of Tommy (which means forsaking the hip-hop samples and scratching King typically employs), the progressive bluesman traces the arc of the music's development, from the gospel grace of "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" and acoustic lilt of "Flooded in the Delta" through the syncopated call and response of "Watermelon Man" and the supercharged rock of "Do Fries Go with That Shake?" As a multitalented musician (who plays everything here), producer, singer, and songwriter, King combines an intuitive affinity for where the music's been with a progressive vision of where it's headed. --Don McLeese

1. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
2. Trouble Will Soon Be Over
3. Canned Heat Blues
4. Flooded In The Delta
5. Watermelon Man
6. John Law Burned Down The Liquor Sto'
7. Red Shoes
8. Bonnie And Clyde In D Miner
9. Do Fries Go With That Shake?
10. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Reprise)
11. Spread The Glory (Requiem)

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 9, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Valley
  • ASIN: B00005OAFV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,896 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Big Dave on November 8, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is an ambitious album, and a very successful one.
The tracks, in order, summarize the 20th century evolution of the blues. The first songs on the album, both King's originals and the covers, are very much in the style of early blues recordings: one voice, one guitar...even the scratchy static of the old 78s is duplicated.
I confess my partiality to early delta guitarslingers, and I really like King's take, from his straight up cover of Willie Johnson's "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" to the archetypally bluesy original "Flooded in the Delta". This is great stuff, and the hilariously deadpan liner notes (spoofing every "how I discovered the blues" story you ever read) are a perfect complement -- I admit, they had me going for a minute.
The tracks then evolve through the rollicking piano blues of "John Law Burned Down the Liquor Sto'" to electric guitar to rhythm 'n' blues, including a purported cover by the Voodoo Dolls (King) of a song by the legendary Tommy Johnson (also King). This is good stuff, too, though less my cup of tea.
This is the only CD of King's I've listened to -- yes, I was drawn to this through O Brother, Where Art Thou? -- but I certainly want to hear more.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By booknblueslady on April 27, 2002
Format: Audio CD
When organic American music was given a shot in the arm by the Coen Brother's movie O Brother, Where Art Thou, Chris Thomas King was among the artists who benefited with King's role as blues musician Tommy Johnson and his song O Brother Where Art Thou. King took full advantage of this opportunity and produced an ambitious concept album The Legend of Tommy Johnson. Imagine an obscure blues artist who sold is soul to the devil down on some Delta crossroads for the ability to play music. He wanders around the delta singing on the corners of "Magnolia and Main" as the cover says. Maybe he serves a stint in prison and becomes part of a chain gang and then upon release wanders to Chicago to try his hand with electric guitar. This is the story of a composite of blues artists throughout the twentieth century and Chris Thomas King has penned, sang, played and produced all the songs on this CD. It is a skillful and artistic cd which demonstrates King's love and appreciation for the music.
Blues music has roots in a range of styles as Chris Thomas King aptly demonstrates. O Brother Where Art Thou and Trouble will Soon Be Over borrow from gospel/spiritual styles. Canned Heat Blues, Flooded in the Delta and Watermelon Man are delta styled acoustic blues. Canned Heat Blues shows the strong relationship which exists between the blues and bootleg liquor. King tips his hat to Charlie Patton and other in singing about delta floods. He sings "People seeking higher ground, the sky is falling and the whole world is sinking down." Watermelon Man is a pleasant journey through the delta in the back of a pickup truck while eating "sweet and juicy" watermelon. You can almost feel the juice running down your chin.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By ROGER L. FOREMAN on October 25, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I am familiar with King's work only from the movie O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU. He has wisely jumped onto that musical bandwagon by recreating his character from the movie, Tommy Johnson, and doing a solo CD as Mr. Johnson, blending history (the real Tommy Johnson) with fiction (O BROTHER. . .). Great idea, very good results. I am not a true blues afficianado, but I loved the song he did in the movie and figured I'd give this disc a run. The opening song, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," is a very cool song that moves along at a nice pace--some nice a capellla and good guitar work, also. "Canned Heat Blues" calls to mind his song from the movie. "John Law Burned Down the Liquor Sto'" is a fast-moving, bluegrass-ish song that is a riot--the tites are so good sometimes! "Red Shoes" is a more electric kind of sound--good song. "Bonnie & Clyde in D Minor" is good, old-fashioned, slowed-down traditional delta blues--great song. The album concludes with two songs performed by the Voodoo Dolls, both of which were probably unnecessary and a bit out of place.
On the whole, this was a very entertaining CD, full of a variety of paces, styles-within-the-style, and instrumentation (he plays a variety of instruments, including mandolin, upright bass, piano, harmonica, and all guitars). He knows how to sing, and he is smart enough to cash in on the O BROTHER phenomenon. If you are a general blues fan, a Chris Thomas King fan, or an O BROTHER fan, you will probably enjoy this CD a great deal.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 19, 2003
Format: Audio CD
O'Brother was the summer movie for me. After I saw the movie I then got the soundtrack and upon hearing the whole album, I immediately liked the track by Mr. King and I read that he was a muscian first so I decided to see what else he had done. Due to the obvious set up of this album it was an easy buy. I wasn't dissapppointed by a single track. They are all well performed and the instruments and choosen perfectly. The right types of guitar and the right use of Piano, to the perfect use of back-up vocals this man does it all. Good Show and more power to him.
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