418. Robert Johnson – “King of the Delta Blues Singers”

The music world is light on for creation myths.

album cover CD Review  Robert Johnson -king-of-the-delta-blues-singersThe purported meeting between Robert Johnson and a talent-trading Satan is one that has always tickled my fancy. The notion that other-worldly skills might be bestowed upon a musician via a Faustian pact is appealing.

The tale has been twisted by various artists (and in multiple media since).  I suspect my first encounter with was through the Muppet Show:

And then the Karate Kid took a swing at chasing down the legend:

Even the cheeky Tenacious D dudes got into it:

But ultimately, one must turns one’s attention to the gentleman who triggered all this.  This collection of Robert Johnson tracks is a glorious journey back to a time when guitars, harmonicas and amplified sound could well have got one thinking about the netherworld (without the Led Zep histrionics).

Johnson is rightfully lauded as a father of modern music and this CD showcases his many skills.  His voice is both strong and pained.  His guitar-work is mesmerising and complex.  His lyrics are amusing at times, and the songs are much more complete than a lot of the seemingly ad-libbed work of his contemporaries.

This is a record of true genius.  If RJ did indeed make a pact with Beelzebub to tap into this talent then it was well worth it:

File under: Wearing a crown of horns?


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