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Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Robert Johnson

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Album Review

Robert Johnson may not have been as innovative in the country blues field as many people think, but as one of the last of the great Delta players to record, he brought a late-era refinement to his material, and with striking songs like "Love in Vain," "Hellhound on My Trail," and the assured "Last Fair Deal Gone Down," he certainly deserves his lofty position in the early blues canon. This set has all of those, but lacks some key tracks, most notably the impressive "Stones in My Passway," and while it makes a decent introduction to Johnson, there is really no reason not to simply pick up the double-disc Complete Recordings on Columbia. It has the best sound, the best liner notes, and everything is there, alternate takes and all.


Born: 08 May 1911 in Hazlehurst, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s

If the blues has a truly mythic figure, one whose story hangs over the music the way a Charlie Parker does over jazz or a Hank Williams does over country, it's Robert Johnson, certainly the most celebrated figure in the history of the blues. Of course, his legend is immensely fortified by the fact that Johnson also left behind a small legacy of recordings that are considered the emotional apex of the music itself. These recordings have not only entered the realm of blues standards ("Love in Vain,"...
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