Mojo (Publisher) - p.1113 stars out of 5
- "[He] channelled good and evil with equal vigour. Nearly 50 years after his death, his music remains vital."
Personnel: Blind Willie McTell (vocals, guitar).
Liner Note Author: Bill Dahl.
Even though Blind Willie McTell had laid down some of the best Southern blues ever put to tape in the 1920s and '30s, and would go on to be revered as a legend in later years, the sightless guitar virtuoso was still living an itinerant life in the '40s, making his living playing for tips at a barbecue joint in Atlanta, Georgia. Archivist John Lomax, on one of his field trips for the Library of Congress, caught up with McTell in 1940 and proposed an impromptu recording session, which was cut in Lomax's hotel room the following day. The results can be heard on THE DEVIL CAN'T HIDE FROM ME, a treasure that finds McTell in top form.
McTell's blues is softer and jazzier than hard-line Delta blues. His trademark 12-string playing (propelled by his chiming finger-picking style) and casual, accessible singing (his crystal clear annunciation is a rarity in blues) are in full effect here. In keeping with his typically wide-ranging repertoire, McTell plays rags ("Kill-It-Kid Rag"), evocative story-songs ("Dying Crapshooter's Blues"), and gospel ("Amazing Grace"). The intimacy of these sessions, alongwith the telling mini-interviews peppered throughout the disc, make this a welcome, essential addition to McTell's discography.