77

Various: Hellhound on My Trail: Songs of Robert Johnson

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count

This may be the best tribute disc I have ever heard.

I have mixed feelings about a tribute disc to a phantom. Robert Johnson's craft is as essential to world culture as Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, the Koran, and Citizen Kane. In my experience, tribute discs contain one or two performances that are over the top wonderful (such as Buddy Guy's "Red House" on the Hendrix Tribute and Hootie and the Blowfish on the Zep Tribute). Therefore, I had pretty low expectations of Hellhound on My Trail: Songs of Robert Johnson. After all, how could Robert "I'm Addicted to Love" Palmer sneak sally through the alley on the blues canon? To my glee, I discovered a tribute disc that should be owned along side The Complete Robert Johnson.

Why, might you ask? Because we are fortunate to have performing on this disc, perhaps the last of the practicing bluesmen that actually knew Robert Johnson, particularly Dave "Honeyboy" Edwards who was present the night Johnson was allegedly poisoned and Robert Jr. Lockwood, who learned at the foot of the phantom as Johnson kept house with his mother. With a groan as deep as the delta he hailed from, betraying his 80some odd years, Dave Edwards metaphorically returns to Friar's Point Mississippi with Johnson's " Traveling Riverside Blues". Edwards still plays a mean bottleneck guitar and his voice has as many rings as a California Redwood. He closes the song with the words, "That's pretty close to it". Indeed.

The fun does not stop there. Robert Jr. Lockwood turns in an intense "I'm A Steady Rollin' Man" with Carey Bell playing Rice Miller to Lockwood's Johnson. Two other old timers also show up. Pinetop Perkins, pounding his piano, tells the listener of his "Sweet Home Chicago" while Bob Margolin provides the slide guitar. Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown performs "If You've Got a Good Friend" only as he can. Most of the performances on this disc are reverent and straight. That is with the exception of the aforementioned Robert Palmer. Palmer uses a tuba, dobro, and processed guitar. And his voice: Palmer had one of the finest vocal performances on the record, using Johnson's "Milkcow Calf's Blues" as his vehicle. If you already have The Complete Robert Johnson, buy this disc . If you don't already have The Complete Robert Johnson, get it and then buy Hellhound on My Trail. It's just like reading poetry—you just have to.

Track Listing: Crossroads; Traveling Riverside Blues; If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day; I'M A Steady Rollin' Man; Me And The Devil Blues; Walkin' Blues; When You've Got A Good Friend; Kind Hearted Woman Blues; Dust My Broom; Come On In My Kitchen; Stones In My Passway; Walking Blues; Hellhound On My Trail; Stop Breakin' Down Blues; Sweet Home Chicago; Milkcow Calf Blues. (Total Time: 62.50)

Personnel: Carey Bell; Tony Braunagel; Clarence "Gatemouth " Brown; Keith Brown; Carl Carlton; James Cotton; David "Honeyboy" Edwards; Eric Gales; Alvin Youngblood Hart; Norris Johnson; Chris Thomas King; Robert Jr. Lockwood; Taj Mahal; Bob Margolin; Reggie Mcbride; Robert Palmer; Pinetop Perkins; Lucky Peterson; Susan Tedeschi; Derek Trucks; Joe Louis Walker; Carl Weathersby.

| Record Label: Telarc Records | Style: Blues


Shop

More Articles

Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Get 'Em CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Radioactive Landscapes EP CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 24, 2017
Read The Many Minds of Richie Cole CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Closer To The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Closer To The Sun
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming" CD/LP/Track Review I Go Back Home: A Story About Hoping And Dreaming
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 21, 2016
Read "When the sleeping fish turn red and the skies start to sing in C major I will follow you to the end" CD/LP/Track Review When the sleeping fish turn red and the skies start to sing...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 13, 2016
Read "Beginning of A Memory" CD/LP/Track Review Beginning of A Memory
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 19, 2016
Read "Sky Begins" CD/LP/Track Review Sky Begins
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 11, 2016
Read "Parrhésie" CD/LP/Track Review Parrhésie
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!