The title King Of The Delta Blues is usually reserved for Robert Johnson, generally considered to be one of the 20th century's most influential blues performers. But the musician who was Johnson's biggest influence (and who ended up outliving him by five decades) was the extraordinary singer and guitarist Son House. Made in 1942 by famed folklorist Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress, these sides were House's first recordings since releasing four songs for Paramount in 1930. In a set of astonishing power, he is often accompanied by mandolin, harmonica, and second guitar, plus various atmospheric background noises like the sound of a train whistle (the field transcriptions were made on a portable recording device in rural Mississippi). But it's the later tracks featuring the master musician performing solo, like "Depot Blues" and "The Pony Blues," that best capture his remarkable authority and charisma, displaying a youthful vitality absent from his next recording (and first full-length album), FATHER OF THE DELTA BLUES, made some two decades later.
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