The Complete Recordings
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MP3 Music, October 8, 1996
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Part of who Robert Johnson was as a singer and songwriter is obscured by his legend, which has been retold so often it borders on cliche. But even after the hype has been dismissed, this box set shows Johnson as a powerful, innovative, soulful blues man, a great performer and a great songwriter (in the context of blues songwriting) with his own unique sound.
Johnson was not without his influences, and if he had lived he would have told you that himself. However, the interesting thing was that he managed to transform his influences and personalize them into his own vision of the blues, a blues that was one of the first steps away from country blues toward city blues - a vision that would eventually become Chicago blues.
It has been fashionable in blues circles to put Robert Johnson down recently, and to gripe about how Johnson's influences should be as well known as he is. This is a valid point. However, Johnson became an influence himself, and as such, he still deserves a good deal of respect.Read more ›
It's all true, in case you were wondering - Robert Johnson really was the most entrancingly scary and affecting and emotional and technically accomplished Delta blues singer ever recorded. His guitar playing is quite extraordinary; Keith Richards reports in the liner notes that when he first heard Johnson (in Brian Jones' flat) he wondered who the second guitarist was. There wasn't one. Johnson could drive the rhythm and play spooky lead lines at the same time, to a degree that nobody has been able to match. He also had a remarkable voice, veering from slyly lascivious to painfully sad to hell-haunted, depending on the nature of the song. And this is one of the main points about his work.
He was a pro. He wasn't just some unusually spooked country boy, although he was clearly obsessed with themes of damnation and vengeance. He could, by all accounts, play whatever he wanted - a tune as innocuous as "My Blue Heaven" is said to have been in his repertoire. The best glimpse we get of the party-dude side of Johnson is his sprightly "They're Red Hot", which sounds like nothing else on the whole album. But fans agree that his best stuff is about lonely roads at twilight and the feeling that he will never get home, or that if he does, there is only something worse there waiting for him.Read more ›
"You can run, you can run tell my friend-boy Willie Brown Lord, that I'm standin' at the crossroad, babe I believe I'm sinkin' down."
Robert Johnson didn't run though and came back months later to surprise fellow blues musicians Son House and Willie Brown with his newly acquired guitar wizardry. The legend started there and continues today.
Over the years Robert Johnson continues to be a mystery shrouded figure from his guitar skills to his death he was elusive at the time and remains so. The closest one can get to knowing him is through his music and the Complete Recordings has it all.
His songs have been coveredby dozens of performers. Sweet Home Chicago has been recorded at least 139 times, come on in My Kitchen 71 and Love in Vain 36 times. His lyrics although written in the 1930's remain alive and vibrant in today's world as they were at the time.
These recordings made in the 30's are alive and compelling. Robert Johnson was a guitar virtuoso whose work impressed the likes of Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. His voice is eerie and haunting.
These recordings were made in the 1930's, and sound that way so for someone used to modern listening they may be an acquired taste. For someone interested in the history of modern rock, pop or blues these are a must have item, regardless of two similar recordings side by side.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's a unique look into the "Delta Blues" scene, with great supporting information!Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
The guitar player who traded his soul to the Devil at a crossroads in order to play better than any other living picker was a real man whose name, marital status, cause of death,... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Booked for life
I ordered this for my cousin who is a blues and guitar-playing man. He loves it.Published 7 months ago by Karen L. Davis
The CDs were in perfect condition. I already knew the music would be great.Published 9 months ago by Walter