Hellhound on My Trail: Songs of Robert Johnson
by Various Artists
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- Released: March 27, 2001
- Label: Telarc
JazzTimes - 5/01, pp.116-7"...A laundry list of both modern and old school bluesmeisters interpreting the telling tales of Robert Johnson....there are many highlights..."
Living Blues - 5-6/01, p.74"...Offers a chance to hear some of today's most high profile blues artists tackle the most difficult fake book in the form. It is interesting and often entertaining..."
- 1.Crossroads (The Crossroad Blues) - Reggie McBride / Taj Mahal / Tony Braunagel
- 2.Traveling Riverside Blues - David Honeyboy Edwards
- 3.If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day - Chris Thomas King
- 4.I'm a Steady Rollin' Man - Robert Lockwood, Jr./Carey Bell
- 5.Me and the Devil Blues - Norris Johnson / Eric Gales / Eric Gale
- 6.Walkin' Blues - Keith Brown
- 7.When You Got a Good Friend - Chris Thomas King / Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
- 8.Kindhearted Woman Blues - Pinetop Perkins / Bob Margolin
- 9.Dust My Broom - Joe Louis Walker
- 10.Come on in My Kitchen - Chris Thomas King / James Cotton
- 11.Stones in My Passway - Lucky Peterson
- 12.Walking Blues - Derek Trucks / Susan Tedeschi
- 13.Hellhound on My Trail - James Cotton / Alvin Youngblood Hart
- 14.Stop Breakin' Down Blues - Carl Weathersby
- 15.Sweet Home Chicago - Pinetop Perkins / Bob Margolin
- 16.Milkcow's Calf Blues - Carl Carlton / Robert Palmer / Carl Carlton & the Songdogs
Includes liner notes by Lawrence Cohn.
HELLHOUND ON MY TRAIL was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.
Personnel: Robert Palmer (vocals, guitar, tuba); Chris Thomas King, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, David Honeyboy Edwards, Joe Louis Walker, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Lucky Peterson, Bob Margolin, Carl Weathersby, Eric Gales (vocals, guitar); Taj Mahal (vocals, National guitar); Pinetop Perkins (vocals, piano); Susan Tedeschi (vocals); Derek Trucks (guitar); Carl Carlton (acoustic guitar, dobro); James Cotton , Carey Bell (harmonica); Mauro Spina, Tony Braunagel (drums).
Audio Mixer: Pino Pischetola.
Liner Note Author: Lawrence Cohn.
Recording information: Ardent Studios, Memphis, TN (02/01/1999-02/07/2000); Avatar Studios, New York, NY (02/01/1999-02/07/2000); Butchie Boy Studios, Dallas, TX (02/01/1999-02/07/2000); Chicago Recording Company, Chicago, IL (02/01/1999-02/07/2000); Dockside Studios, Maurice, LA (02/01/1999-02/07/2000); Presence Studios, Westport, CT (02/01/1999-02/07/2000); Sony Music Studios, Santa Monica, CA (02/01/1999-02/07/2000).
Not the first compilation of bluesmen (and one woman) interpreting the limited but radically influential work of Robert Johnson, and almost certainly not the last, this 2001 entry is one of the more substantial efforts in the lineage. Instead of refashioning these classics in unique arrangements, the compilers have stripped the artists and songs down to their unplugged roots. Most perform solo or with another musician. Drums are all but nonexistent, and a sublime organ augments another, but the rest wend their way with the basics of guitar, voice, and harp, as well as a touch of Pinetop Perkins' tinkling piano. What results is an honest, unpretentious, and often thrilling tribute to Johnson by an eclectic array of young and established blues journeymen. As for the old-timers, you don't get any more authentic than Robert Lockwood Jr. and David "Honeyboy" Edwards, both of whom actually played with the legendary Johnson, and their presence instills a legitimate authenticity to the project. Edwards sounds weak but inspired on "Traveling Riverside Blues," and Chicago harp master Carey Bell adds sizzle to Lockwood Jr.'s "Steady Rollin' Man." Muddy Waters' sidemen Bob Margolin and Pinetop Perkins alternate on vocals for two sparkling tracks, and the always dependable Taj Mahal takes on the daunting "Crossroads" with typical aplomb. The album's most radical pairing is guitarist/vocalist Eric Gales, who plays with subtle Hammond B-3 organ accompaniment, offering a changeup from the traditional approach. Susan Tedeschi, the disc's only woman, howls with righteous passion as Derek Trucks turns in a rare unplugged performance on one of two versions of "Walking Blues." Only pop-rocker Robert Palmer seems out of place on the roster, but his version of "Milkcow's Calf Blues" is remarkably faithful to the original and free of the flashy glitz that mars his own work. He even overdubs himself on low-key tuba, adding a distinctive perspective to the track. Elsewhere Joe Louis Walker, Alvin "Youngblood" Hart, and Lucky Peterson represent the youngsters. All acquit themselves with grace and intensity on an album that consistently remains true to the spirit of this most classic of blues music. Few tributes are this honestly constructed and pay respect so gracefully to one of the blues' most beloved and cherished catalogs. ~ Hal Horowitz
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