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The Complete Recordings (The Centennial Collection) Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued

4.7 out of 5 stars 116 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued, April 26, 2011
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Frequently Bought Together

  • The Complete Recordings (The Centennial Collection)
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  • The Original Delta Blues (Mojo Working': Blues For The Next Generation)
Total price: $18.62
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Editorial Reviews

May 8, 2011, marks the 100th birthday of Mississippi Delta bluesman Robert Johnson, who, according to legend, sold his soul down at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49 in a midnight bargain that has haunted the music world for three-quarters of a century. The deal brought forth Johnson s incandescent guitar technique and a run of 10-inch 78 rpm singles for the Vocalion, Oriole, Conqueror and Perfect labels recorded in San Antonio in 1936 and Dallas in 1937. Those songs have become a cornerstone of Columbia Records identity, and will be celebrated on two CENTENNIAL releases from Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.

THE CENTENNIAL COLLECTION double-disc set shares the same genealogy as 1990 s Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings, but that package has now been updated for a new generation. The set includes a new essay by Ted Gioia alongside a new biography of Robert Johnson written by Stephen C. LaVere (completely different from his essay in the 1990 version). Also included are new illustrations, photo images, and a family tree of music originating from Robert Johnson.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 26, 2011)
  • Original Release Date: April 26, 2011
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered, Original recording reissued
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • ASIN: B004OFWLO0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,817 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Robert Johnson Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Stack on April 27, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Robert Johnson, blues pioneer and legend, would turn 100 next month if he were still alive. In celebration of his centennial, his all-too-brief catalog-- 29 master takes and 13 alternates-- has been reissued.

As I'm sure a lot of you reading this already have these recordings in some form or another, I'm going to start by talking about the presentation of this material. Put simply-- this set is a revelation of sound-- it's remarkable, both the 1990 collection (Complete Recordings) and the later reissues of King of Delta Blues Singers all have that "pre-World War II reissue sound". Many of you know what I mean, scratches, pops, microphone hiss, etc. It lends a certain charm to the music, but it can certainly change the listening experience. This recording is remarkably free of that-- crisp, clean, clear, no artifacts of age or old media. It's really amazing, I've never heard anything from this era that sounds like this, it has my salivating at the potential for remastering other pre-WWII music and it really brings Johnson to life-- with such clarity, both his singing and guitar playing leap off the recordings.

And really, that brings me back to the recordings, a true treasure of their era, Robert Johnson was a powerfully talented man. Generally recognized for his guitar playing (rumor has it he sold his soul to the Devil to attain such mastery), Johnson was also a singer of fierce power, channeling deep and powerful emotions and demonstrating excellent flexibility in his voice.
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By Don on April 26, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I already had the 1990 release "The Complete Recordings" so you would probably say , why buy this one , right ? Well I firgured it would be re-remastered using todays technology and I saw it had unreleased 2 snippets on disc 2 . I was gonna purchase it thru Amazon like I do most of the time but I wanted to see the packaging first to see if it was remastered . Well I purchased it today at a local independent record store (there are so few left these days)and I gotta say ,the sound is much improved over the 1990 boxset . The booklet is very nice and informative and the 2 new snippets (even though they are only seconds in length)are historical seconds in the story of the Blues . Maybe you have to be a Delta Blues fanatic like me to appreciate these few seconds . All in all this is a great 2cd set with great sound . The only thing missing from this as compared to the 1990 boxset is the lyrics . BUY IT ! ! !
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ok, I've bought all the reissues and the records so I know a little of the history of the SOUND of Robert J.
This reissue got all the hooks right. The remastering, compared even to the 90 re-re cd issue literally BLOWS
it away for listenability. This, finally is the holy grail of RJ. It is finally, a collection you can listen to without being
totally stoned and enjoy!! Kudo's to the Columbia label for FINALLY gettin it right!!
Gerard Masters
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This complete collection has 42 cuts - 29 songs with 13 alternates - along with two test grooves. It is on two CDs in a trifold jewel case. A booklet with some photos is in the front of the case. Songs are vocal and guitar by Robert Johnson - this was before the days of full bands. I thought that the sound was good, so I don't know what some others are complaining about. At 75, my hearing may not be the best but it sounded fine to me. This is a must have collection for anyone collecting the blues. Others are the Willie Dixon Chess Box (songs written by Willie Dixon as the house songwriter for the Chess brothers studio, and performed by himself and others)The Chess Box; The Muddy Waters Chess Box (all vocals by himself, with a band that sometimes included Willie Dixon on standup bass)The Chess Box; the Howlin Wolf Chess BoxThe Chess Box; etc. See separate reviews.

For a written account about Robert Johnson, see Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. Blues musicians tended to play about the lives that they led, and some are said to have sold their souls to the devil. You can get the flavor of the times from the recent short story collection edited by Carolyn Haines,
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No need to review the incredible music of Robert Johnson. Along with Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Bob Dylan he was among the most influential American artists of the 20th century--despite the fact that his entire catalog fits on two CDs.

My review focuses instead on this reissue compared to the 1990 Complete Recordings, as good as they were for their time. That version is like standing on the porch, peering through a dirty, grease-smudged window into the room where 75 years ago Robert Johnson sat in a creaky wooden chair, wailing his heart out while playing his amazing guitar with what sounds like four hands. This new set transports you into the room, sitting right next to Johnson--not just hearing the music but feeling it. There is still the crackle, hiss, and pop of these old recordings. Some future advance in processing technology might someday remove this noise while leaving all the other audio unscathed, and it's debatable whether this would be good or bad. But on these discs Robert Johnson's music comes through brighter, cleaner, fuller, and more alive than I have ever heard it.

I can't speak to whether this set simply restores something that the 1990 versions inadvertently muffled compared to even earlier versions. But I can't imagine a better set out there, and for any serious student of American music or just music period, these recordings in some form are absolutely essential. And I can't imagine being without them.
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