Hellhound On My Trail
NEW Combo BLUWAVS CD and FLAC FILE
An anthology celebrating the music of Robert Johnson, Hellhound on My Trail collects versions of the master's songs by such latter-day luminaries as Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Robert Lockwood Jr., and Joe Louis Walker, along with such relative newcomers as Alvin "Youngblood" Hart and Susan Tedeschi. While few would argue that any of these are definitive versions, there are some nice additions to the Johnson cover canon.
David "Honeyboy" Edwards's slower, less maniacal take on "Traveling Riverside Blues" proves a nice change of pace, though one would be better off digging up their old copies of Exile on Main Street for a more interesting interpretation of "Stop Breaking Down" than the one here by Carl Weathersby. All in all, a pleasant diversion, but one must add that Johnson's legacy seems better carried on by the likes of the White Stripes and Will Oldham than some of the more "traditional" acts on this compilation. --Mike Johnson
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The album features some well known blues singers such as Taj Mahal, and Honeyboy Edwards, now a very old man, who actually played with Robert Johnson. Edwards' interpretation of of a Johnson song may well reflect Johnson's actual style quiteaccurately.
Overall, this is an album that will interest committed blues fans, but probably won't appeal much outside that group.
The disc opens with Taj Majal singing the familiar "Crossroads" in a deep, authoritative growl. Blues stalwarts Robert Jr. Lockwood and Carey Bell turn out a fine version of "I'm a Steady Rollin' Man." Two veterans of Muddy Water's band, Bob Margolin and Pinetop Perkins team up for performances of "Kindhearted Woman Blues" and "Sweet Home Chicago", featuring Bob and Pinetop on vocals respectively. The interplay between Bob's blistering delta guitar and Pinetop's piano makes for especially nice listening. Another highlight is an innovative arrangement of "Stones in My Passway" featuring Lucky Peterson on 9-string guitar. Listen carefully for the quote from Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" that is slipped into the arrangement. Fans of Joe Louis Walker's recent acoustic work will enjoy his version of "Dust My Broom." The disc features a total of 16 tracks, which are mostly excellent performances.
Hellhound on my Trail should appeal to both casual listeners and serious blues fans alike. For serious fans, this disc features some heartfelt performances of Robert Johnson's material by some of today's finest blues musicians. For more casual listeners, this disc is an excellent way to become more familiar with the music of a blues legend.
Alas, high volume, sloppy song writing and structure, foot pedal gadgets, and fancy studio techniques have dominated modern blues music to the point of homogenization. What passes for modern blues is often reworked rock `n roll. It seems that few modern blues artists, producers, and engineers today care about producing a blues recording that is true to the art form.
Listening to the modern yet authentic interpretations of Robert Johnson's music on this disc makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because the talent and treatment of Johnson's material is of such high quality; so reverent; and so well arranged and executed. Sad because we rarely get to hear great original music from modern artists that is of this caliber. I don't think it is because the talent doesn't exist. It may be that the business of making music combined with the boutique aspect of the blues art form has relegated it to the ultra-specialty pile where few gems are ever heard, or even attempted.
This is a fantastic compilation of modern artists interpreting the great songs of Robert Johnson. These are authentic, heart-felt interpretations of a blues legend's music. This release will most assuredly be a strong Handy and maybe even Grammy nominee. Thanks to the talented blues artists and Telarc for this release.