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Charley Patton

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Album Review

Were Charley Patton alive today, he'd most likely be pleasantly surprised by the durability of his records. Who could've imagined that the musings of a Delta guitarist, recorded for Paramount in the late 1920s and early 1930s, would be treated as relics of art 60 and 70 years later? The Best of Charley Patton includes 23 cuts, 70 minutes of music, and offers an excellent introduction to those not quite ready to spend the big bucks on the available box sets. There's "High Sheriff Blues," a song recalling Patton's arrest in Belzoni, Mississippi for drunkenness, and "Pony Blues," his signature song that dated back to the beginning of his career in 1910. He's joined by fiddler Henry "Son" Sims on "Going to Move to Alabama," and plays some mean bottleneck guitar on "Mississippi Bo Weavil." Yazoo reserved a paragraph of the liner notes to address the problems of transferring Patton's music from worn-out 78s. A certain level of noise, it seems, is a fact of life with these recordings. Yazoo achieves a balance here, cutting down as much surface noise as possible without sapping the dynamics of the performance. The cleanest cuts comprise the first half of the album and two cuts, "High Sheriff" and "Jersey Bull," appear at their proper speed for the first time on this collection. The Best of Charley Patton is a fine, one-stop collection by the "King of the Delta Blues." ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Born: 1891 in Bolton, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s

If the Delta country blues has a convenient source point, it would probably be Charley Patton, its first great star. His hoarse, impassioned singing style, fluid guitar playing, and unrelenting beat made him the original king of the Delta blues. Much more than your average itinerant musician, Patton was an acknowledged celebrity and a seminal influence on musicians throughout the Delta. Rather than bumming his way from town to town, Patton would be called up to play at plantation dances, juke joints,...
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