- Along with its predecessor, this companion to KING OF THE DELTA BLUES SINGERS accounts for most of Robert Johnson's small but staggeringly influential output. Recorded in Texas hotel rooms during a handful of 1936 and 1937 sessions, these cuts capture Johnson's brilliant guitar work (its churning bass line, rhythmic invention, and melodic embellishments still sound fresh), his textured, keening tenor voice, and--most importantly--the subtle, complex interplay between the two.
- But what makes Johnson's music immortal is that he always exceeded the sum of his technical expertise (which is considerable). With their incisive poetic vision and their themes of longing, displacement, and suffering, Johnson's songs tap into a wellspring of universal emotion. Though capable of expressing sheer exuberance ("They're Red Hot"), Johnson at his best ("Love in Vain;" "Ramblin' on My Mind") told the story of the human soul seeking purchase. As an album, VOL. 2 may have the edge on VOL. 1, but all of Johnson's work is essential because it mirrors life at its most intense. His music still has the power to mystify, dazzle, and enrich the listener's life beyond measure.
Rolling Stone (12/2/70, p.50) - "...Johnson is just incredible: a great guitarist, a brilliant song writer, a tremendous singer...it's the highest art, the greatest beauty imaginable..."