- Audio CD (August 28, 1990)
- Original Release Date: August 28, 1990
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Box set
- Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
- Label: Sony Legacy
- Run Time: 105 minutes
- ASIN: B000002757
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,279 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings Box set
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MP3 Music, October 8, 1996
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This boxed set is in good condition. The box is strong with some minor wear along the bottom edge. The side of the front lid as a crease, but the lid is straight. The back of the box has a crease down the right side, but the lid fits perfectly and the box sits flat. The booklet looks new with no creases, rips, or markings. The CD cases look new and are in great condition with no scuffs, scratches, or cracks. The CDs look new and they play great! No scratches or scuffs. The liner notes and artwork look new. This is a great value for the money!
This two-CD box contains all 41 recordings Johnson made, including 12 alternate takes, and each cut remains a classic. This set's release in 1990 caused quite a stir, selling more than 500,000 copies, and, on the basis of endorsements from Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, introduced a great number of rock fans to Delta blues. Amazingly, Johnson built his enormous legacy on the strength of just two recording sessions: the first session, in November of 1936, produced among others "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Cross Road Blues," and "Walkin' Blues," making it perhaps the most influential single session in blues history. --Marc Greilsamer
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Top Customer Reviews
The book that comes with the box set is a long read. It's not worth reading unless you're serious about the subject. The discs contain many alternate takes. This removes the set from the 'background music' category. It is not what you play in the background for a party with your friends to show you're 'down' with the Blues.
This is a serious collection for serious students of the Blues. I've read a couple of the Johnson biographies, and I found things in the book included that I didn't know, and the information about the recordings contained a LOT of things I did not know.
As for the CD's, being able to compare and contrast primary and alternate takes on Johnson's work just showcases his talent and versatility as a performer and as an artist. Johnson is universally recognized as one of the great icons of the Blues. If you're be a serious student of the Blues, you NEED this set.
On the other hand, if you just like to listen to his work (and who doesn't?) there are many decent collections available two good ones are "King of the Delta Blues " and "His Recorded Legacy: The 29 Songs." These are more accessible, and both are available on Amazon. These are both good for casual listening.
Johnson did his recording sessions on two different dates, both in hotel rooms facing into the corners of the rooms so his music would bounce back for a fuller sounding recording.
This album has the relatively tinny sound produced by 1930's-era portable recording equipment. Some of the songs sound as though they have been sped up in playback to produce a more exciting recording, and I have read that there is some suspicion that this was done, but there are no other sources to verify this.
The only real weakness to these recordings, in my opinion, is that if Johnson recorded some song, let's call it Song X, at both recording sessions, the two versions are laid out in succession on the album. That is to say, you might hear "Come on in My Kitchen" twice running, then another song once, maybe, then another song twice in a row. I would have preferred it if the producer had put all the recordings from one session followed by all the recordings from the other session so the songs didn't double up like they do. That decision is why I went with a 4 star, rather than a 5 star rating.
I am a big fan of traditional blues music, though, and this recording is as traditional as it gets. If you like this type of music this album certainly belongs in your collection.
Now the music: Soulful, haunting, beautiful. You really cant describe this music without using these adjectives but words can only go so far. The music of many of RJ's contemporaries and predecessors, Tommy Johnson for example, is wonderful - but just doesnt compare. Maybe you need to have grown up on the Rolling Stones to understand - greats like Brown Sugar, Sympathy for the Devil, Gimme Shelter, Jumping Jack Flash; RJ's haunting music so obviously set the stage for the best of rock'n'roll. Its sort of the difference between music that explores the human heart's capacity for darkness (even at a pop level like the Stones) and good dance music. Rock'n'roll MIGHT have been born even without Robert Johnson, but it certainly would have traveled a much less interesting path.
As a guitarist, I had bought Robert Johnson: The New Transcriptions, which matches up with this two-disc set. So that's why I finally bought this set and I give it a hearty five of five, a must-own for any good blues collection.