Robert Johnson – The Complete Recordings
Writing this is like shooting fish in a barrel. I’ve heard these songs so many times, it’s hardly fair.
Back in high school, I was mostly into jazz, which naturally led to the blues. And I bought this 2CD set in the long box with the book. I played that thing so much. Now, I no longer have that box set, lost to the vagaries of time, moves and my own idiocy. It’s a regret to this day. If I ever come across that version of this set in my travels, I’d buy it without a thought. Call it nostalgia – after all, it’s just packaging…
I realized it was time to replace my copy. I needed to hear these songs again, it’d been too long. I threw it onto my Amazon wishlist for Christmas, and come that day, there it was! I was SO happy!! Now, this isn’t the long box copy I had all those years ago, just a slim 2CD case, but once those sounds washed over me, it was the music that matters, box or no.
Immediately, I had to get it into my ears. I was drawn to it like a parched person crawling across the desert on their belly would crawl towards water. I plugged it in and was instantly transported back to when I first heard these tracks. And I was equally blown away, as I always was no matter how many times I played it. I’m listening to it again right now, as I type this, and I’m getting those familiar shivers. It’s just so godammned good.
A lot of lip service is paid to Robert Johnson. All the rock and blues guitarists trip over themselves to line up and swear up and down that Johnson was the most amazing, the greatest. Hyperbole aside, the praise is absolutely warranted.
If there’s a word that’s stronger than ‘essential’ for how badly you need this in your collection, then that word applies here.