I've always proclaimed that no one is late in discovering music, only that the music finds the listener when the time is right.
Robert Johnson's "Complete Recordings" album has been one of several albums in constant rotation from my record collection, but recently I had the pleasure of hearing his music like I've never heard it before...on vinyl. The volume on my CD collection always had to be turned way up to hear anything, where as I'm able to hear all of the subtle nuances in Johnson's guitar playing and singing, even on the lowest quality of turntables.
For anyone wanting to dip their toe in the waters of the blues look no further than here. Johnson's recordings are the building blocks of just about all blues and rock n' roll music, and will continue to be just a handful of recordings that will be examined and probed in the centuries to come.
What makes this record interesting, aside from the noticeable sound quality, is the fact this record was the first time Johnson's music was available to a wider audience, both white and black, as his records during the time of their original release could only be found in the South (known as 'Race Records'). Recorded between the years of 1936-37 in San Antonio and Dallas, TX, there is still something hauntingly fascinating about these songs, making them timeless to the ears that are willing to listen. At the time of this album's release music fans were hearing for the first time alternate takes of recordings like "Crossroad Blues", "Rambling On My Mind", "Traveling Riverside Blues" and "Hellhound On My Trail". It's been rumored that the existing recordings were 'sped up' by the original record label, Vocalion, as the label then was known to do so with its commercial releases, producing 'more exciting' sound recordings for its audiences. Through these recordings the listener is given idea of Johnson as some kind of paranoid drifter/rambler/gambler/forlorn lover, instead of the laid-back and relaxed juke joint troubadour Johnson was rumored to be from slower versions of these songs. It's difficult to know for sure if the recordings are sped up or not, but regardless, these recordings have withstood the test of time and still make the rounds on many a record and CD player.
(SEE ALSO "Robert Johnson: King Of The Delta Blues Singers Vol. 2").
ALBUM NOTES | King Of The Delta Blues Singers Vol. 1
Columbia Cat# CL1654
Song Credits: Johnson
Producer: Frank Driggs
Personnel: Robert Johnson (Guitar, Vocal)
SIDE ONE: 22:08
SIDE TWO: 21:18