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The Complete Recordings [Sony/BMG]
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Performer Notes
  • THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS includes a 48-page booklet with biographical notes, rare photos and a complete discography.
  • Solo performer: Robert Johnson (vocals, guitar).
  • Producer: Don Law.
  • Compilation producers: Stephen LaVere, Frank Driggs.
  • Recorded in San Antonio, Texas on November 23 & 26-27, 1936 and Dallas, Texas on June 19-20, 1937. Includes liner notes by Stephen LaVere, Keith Richards and Eric Clapton.
  • All tracks have been digitally remastered.
  • Noted blues historian Robert Palmer has called him "the Mississippi Delta's first modern blues-man," and over the past 50 years Robert Johnson's influence has reached out from beyond the grave. Though his recording output numbers fewer than 30 different songs, Johnson's catalog has been a treasure trove picked clean by artists ranging from Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead.
  • The beauty of THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS lies in its utter simplicity. Johnson's reedy vocals, accompanied only by a steel-string guitar, evoke the very essence of the Deep South with its mystery and intrigue. It's easy to see where the myth of Johnson going down to the crossroads to make a Faustian pact with Lucifer was first sown; it can be heard within the confines of "Cross Road Blues" and "Hellhound On My Trail." While the sound of Johnson's recordings has a discernible hiss to it, the unadulterated emotion resonating in his voice goes straight to the marrow, making these sonic limitations seem like an afterthought.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (p.86) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "[The set] transports us deeper into the mythic and all-too-real world his music evokes."

Rolling Stone (5/13/99, p.52) - Included in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's."

Rolling Stone (10/18/90) - 5 Stars - Classic - "...No other bluesman left a studio portrait that seems to come moaning and howling from the darkest recesses of his soul. The music has a power that age cannot dim..."

Q (2/91) - Recommended as one of the five best blues releases of 1990 - "...Easily the most significant re-issue of the past year, THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS resolves many of the mysteries of Johnson's life while rendering the uncanny power of his work more mysterious than ever..."

Q (8/94, p.126) - 5 Stars - Indispensable - "...Without a doubt a man mummified in his own legend, but these 41 recordings - Johnson's entire output - remain essential nonetheless..."

Down Beat (2/97, p.55) - 5 Stars (out of 5) - "...the great country blues man and his classic 41 titles...cause us to step back in slack-jawed astonishment..."

Down Beat (2/91) - 5 Stars - Excellent - "...Johnson's use of harmonics and chording was eons before his time, and his delivery and lyrics remain standards by which blues intensity is measured. The intimacy is eerie; you're in the literal presence of genius..."

Time Magazine (12/31/90) - Rated as one of the 10 best recordings of 1990. - "...This isn't just music; it's American mythology, recorded in the mid-1930s and brought alive for the first time on two CDs. The blues found no deeper mystical expression than in Johnson's composing and singing..."

Mojo (Publisher) (4/01, p.44) - "...If there have to be legendary bluesmen, Johnson is as well fitted for the role as anybody....[This is] a treasury that seems to grow more valuable year by year..."
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