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Robert Johnson - King Of The Delta Blues vol.1 - LP -

Price per Unit (stuk): €14.95

In his 1937 recording of “Love in Vain,” Robert Johnson laments, “Well, it’s hard to tell, it’s hard to tell / when all your love’s in vain,” a simple sentiment that has resonated through rock music for nearly a century.

When Columbia Records released Johnson’s 1937 recordings on the album “King of the Delta Blues Singers Volume 1” in 1961, the album reached a new wave of legendary rock acts like Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. For its immense influence on rock history, “King of the Delta Blues Singers Volume 1,” along with the 1970 release “King of the Delta Blues Singers Volume 2,” is ranked 27th on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” The most incredible aspect of the compilation’s status as the foremost blues textbook is the fact that Johnson remains more myth than man.
An essential blues album fit for any serious record collection. A five star CLASSIC !

Johnson began playing the blues as a teenager, tagging along with blues musicians Son House and Willie Brown, who viewed him as an annoying, if earnest, kid who lacked talent. A few years later, he introduced himself as a guitar expert with a massive repertoire who could pick up any song by ear. The bluesman traveled all over the country, playing everything from the blues to Bing Crosby. His songs reflect his life — often making geographical references, like the standout “Sweet Home Chicago” — and were always seated in the loneliness of the road.

From Johnson’s virtuosic transformation arose a tall-tale that the young guitarist had met the devil at a crossroads and had traded his soul for skill. “The Crossroad Blues” itself, Johnson’s 1936 song, as well as many recordings on the ‘King of the Delta Blues Singers,” sound as if they feature two or three guitarists, when in reality, Johnson recorded them himself in two or three takes — each in a hotel room.

Little did he know that these humble recordings would be the difference between immortality and obscurity after a mysterious death at 27. Elements of Johnson’s style, like his irregular basslines, and his ability to layer those basslines with other unusual riffs and progressions augments his haunting vocals, result in songs that convince the listener that he had in fact shaken hands with the devil.

Johnson’s blues cannot help but reflect the hardships of a black man in the Depression-era Deep South; at the same time, the lyrics center around enduringly familiar topics. Sardonic humor in songs like “Come On In My Kitchen” and “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom” balance more outright sexual innuendos in “Terraplane Blues” and “They’re Red Hot.” The motif of an unfaithful woman dominates most of the recordings; in a reversal, “Kind Hearted Woman Blues” is a warning from a repentant narrator: “When you got a good friend, that will stay right by your side / Give her all of your spare time, love and treat her right.” The timeless lyrics of “Love in Vain” speak so cuttingly to an essential truth about unrequited love — like the poetry in so many of Johnson’s songs, one could believe they were written yesterday.

A few numbers, like “Me and the Devil Blues” and “32-20 Blues,” give the album a layer of chilling realism with their disturbing promises of domestic abuse, seemingly ordered by the devil himself. Whether or not Johnson really met the devil, he documents their relationship well enough in the “King of the Delta Blues” volumes. Throughout the albums, the repeated image of the devil and the narrator as friends, always at each other’s side, is the common thread, tying the songs together into more than a compilation. The “King of the Delta Blues” volumes prove Johnson’s canon a deeply intriguing reflection of a virtuoso who lived the blues, independent of his personal mystique.

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