Source: Northeastern University
My admiration for Robert Johnson started during my second year in high school, when I came across a couple of his songs on Youtube. Ever since first hearing him, I fell in love with his frank intensity that he brought to every song he recorded. His guitar work was essentially impeccable; his voice was so authentic, grizzled and almost divine. The power and accentuated enormity of his songs simply transcend. He’s a genius at what he does: sing the blues with absolute passion and vigor.
“King of the Delta Blues Singers” is a stellar, fully fledged compilation. Each song here is beautifully dismal; that is, Johnson is able to elucidate upon such dreary experiences and transform them into beautifully done and highly energized songs. Furthermore, with this specific transformation, Johnson is able to create such grand, such important music from incredibly bare circumstances, in that it’s only him and his guitar along for the ride.
Quite frankly, I had to give “King” four to five listens before I could let all of his songs settle into my mind. As such, it was (as it normally is here on this blog) incredibly difficult to choose a favorite song. After much consideration, I’d go with the eerie album closer, “Hellhound On My Trail”. Now, this is such an intense and fascinating way to end a masterful blues album. Dreary, atmospheric and increasingly creepy, “Hound” might be the best song on this compilation. Johnson sounds so forlorn and wary throughout the song’s entire runtime that it creates a very incredible and enjoyable listening experience.
Although, truth be told, I have to be in a certain mood to give this record a listen, “King” is undoubtedly leagues ahead of the majority of blues albums I’ve come across. Like many of my favorite albums, this is so raw, candid and organic that it simply rocks! This is such an authentically awesome blues masterpiece and one of the greatest compilations I’ve come across. Of course, “King” is one of the albums I have with me on this symbolic desert island I sometimes find myself on.
My Grade: A+