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.

Just go.


Posted on January 21, 2014, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I feel like I ought to have this. I used to have quite a few Blues CDs (including Robert Johnson) but I just never listened to them enough and got rid of them. Might be worth another try!


  2. I bought this from you, at one point. It wasn’t the box set though it was a jewel case. I don’t have it anymore.


    • Interesting… that means I’ve owned this more than twice…


      • Here’s what little I remember. You sent a box of discs to sell to my folks’ place. I always sent it to their place because I went there for supper most nights. So you were no longer in Kitchener. I moved here in 2001, so this would be post-2001.

        I always picked a few out of the box, and my mom did too from time to time! I’d make you an offer on some I was buying just for me, and then I’d give you store credit for the rest. I think I probably kept that store credit in my wallet until all the CDs that you order from the website arrived, then I would send those discs to you. It was a complex transaction but very enjoyable.

        That’s how I got a pristine mint condition jewel case Robert Johnson from you.


      • That sounds about right. We were in Montreal from 1999 to 2001 (probably August), and then Saskatoon August 2001 until May 2005. So depending on when in 2001 I sent that box, it was either from QC or SK.

        I remember sending you stuff like that. I hadn’t met and befriended my SK CD store guy yet! 😉 Those were times I needed money more than I needed CDs. Bob Marley deluxe, PJ bootleg series, and now Robert Johnson, apparently. But it was another benefit of befriending the record store dude, which benefitted us both. I got needed cash (or other CDs, from the sounds of it), and you got some tunes too!

        I’d probably be disgusted to see what went in those boxes, now. But the times are what they are. And I got me another Robert Johnson, so it’s all good. SO GOOD. If I ever see another good-shape long box, though, I will buy it.


    • Just occured to me. You no longer have the one you got off of me? Gah! What is it with this set? Man, it wasn’t until I plugged it back in that I realized I was a fool for getting rid of it (apparently more than once). I won’t be without it, now. Nope no way.


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