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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Complete Recordings
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2004
Muddy Waters is probably the most famous of all bluesmen, but not many people know that, in the early years of his carear, he was a Robert Johnson tribute act.
Standing on the shoulders of the great delta blues giants like Son House and Lonnie Johnson, Robert Johnson took accoustic blues to reach it's pre-war peak, before amplifiers and the electric guitar came in.
As a singer he is passionate rather than technically brilliant, but it is as an accoustic blues guiitarist that he is unsurpassed - not just my view but Eric Clapton's as well. No-one else could play such a variety of styles with such power, feeling and emotion. In fact so skillful was his playing that when Keith Richard of the Rolling Stones first heard it, he was conviced that there were two people on the record - one doing the lead work and one doing the bass runs, rather than Johnson managing both simultaneously.
The best thing about this CD is that it has every single take that he ever recorded - from the intense, crazed "Preaching Blues (Up jumped the Devil)" to the slow, moving "Come on in my Kitchen" which, according to Johnny Shines, reduced men to tears when Johnson played it live.
If you only have one accoustic blues CD in your collection - this is the one it should be.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2009
This bargain CD contains the roots of most great guitar music. Almost everyone has heard one of his songs, covered by every band in the western world during the 1960s. Once one gets into the sound of the man alone with his primitive guitar then the sound just gets better and better.

Essential for any music fan, especially those into the psychedelic and blues rock of the 1960s
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 8 March 2007
One of the things that I love most about the great pillar of popular music that is The Blues is the fact that it provides such a stable and accessible platform for so many different musicians to explore and express their deepest, most heartfelt feelings from, each of them able to carve their own unique signature.

One of the most finely-carved of these signatures belongs to Robert Johnson, one of the great early contributors to the blues, and one whose legacy and influence on so many of those who came later cannot be overstated.

Despite his significance to the blues, Johnson's name never seems to have attained the same level of general familiarity as those of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker etc. Indeed, I only discovered him after watching the film The Ghosts of Mississippi with Alec Baldwin, James Woods and Whoopi Goldberg. At one point, Baldwin visits the brother of a murdered civil rights activist who is the DJ of a small southern radio station; at the end of their chat, the DJ puts on a new record which he introduces with words to the effect of "now for something from the grandfather of the blues, Robert Johnson". You only hear the first few notes of the record, but it was enough to intrigue me and to make me look into the man. WELL! What a revelation!

There is very little I can add to what has already been said about Johnson except to say his records really sound as if there are three of them playing! I don't possess enough of a technical knowledge of music to specifically describe what the guy is up to, but can only try to explain that his guitar-playing is unlike anything I've heard before and that his rythmic structures are Just Brilliant. Truly a guitar virtuoso! The combination of his guitar, rythm, voice and lyrics is absolutely haunting, beautiful, melancholy, sweet, mysterious, trippy etc. If you'd like to hear one of the greatest exponents of Mississippi Delta blues, here's your man!

Incidentally, Rolling Stone Magazine's 'Top 100 Guitarists Of All Time' has Robert Johnson at number 5, one place behind Eric Clapton at number 4! I can't think that Clapton would be at all happy to be rated higher than his hero!

(Also, if you're frustrated by the shortage of Johnson's recorded material, then I highly recommend the work of another early blues giant, the equally great Leadbelly - the master of the 12 string guitar, a lot of whose music is reminiscent of Johnson's - Oh, and of course, the incomparable Son House, who had a direct and unmistakeable influence on Johnson's music).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2011
I got this a few months ago, and I really like it. As a few other reviewers have mentioned it is a bit of a pain in the way they bunch all the recordings of one song together, although, depending on my mood, i sometimes quite like this - it's a good point of comparison - but it's not ideal for just wanting to listen to RJ rather than study him!

Obviously, as many more in the know reviewers before have said - his guitar playing is amazing, I'm no way, musically talented myself, but even i can hear it's really kind of beyond, and in a way, if you ignore the recording quality, it actually sounds pretty contemporary - i.e, the 'art form' hasn't actually moved on that much since this I don't think. the quality of the instrument and all the rest of it makes it sound much better, but in terms of just playing, its amazing.

The other thing i never realised is what a great lyricist he is! I really like the lyrical structure of the songs. Because we hear the songs everywhere I never paid much attention to the lyrics, but when listening to this it's really brought it home.

Well worth the price, it's an all rounder - i can't imagine many people disliking this
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2009
There's not much you can say about this album, except that if you consider yourself a true blues fan, then you have to purchase this. I can't rate it highly enough (well I suppose rating it 5 is highly enough!)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2009
This is the best issue of Robert Johnson's recordings to get. The sleeve notes, the information and the mastering are amazing. Buy it and enjoy the best sounding better than ever.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2009
Needs to be said because I think this is important.
Columbia's so called "The Complete Recordings [Box set]" in fact contains only 41 tracks (only one take of "Traveling Riverside Blues") - the second take surfaced after the Box Set was released.
The Recall 2CD set "Steady Rollin Man" (SMD CD 234) is to my knowledge the only truly complete collection with both takes of "Traveling Riverside Blues", a total of 42 tracks
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2008
An absolute genius, an incredible listen. A warning to anybody buying this box set: As has been said by other reviewers, the set has all of the recordings by Johnson, you will hear more than one recording of each song, and if you are new to Johnson, this will be pretty intense ( and maybe a bit dull). If you have heard Johnson before, then it's worth getting this though.

Much as I love Clapton, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, etc, Johnson is just incredible: better than the lot of them, and the best guitarist I have ever heard, even above the great Clapton himself.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Thought a track listing of the 41 recordings would be useful to anyone who is interested.

1. Kindhearted Woman Blues
2. Kindhearted Woman Blues
3. I Believe I'll Dust My Broom
4. Sweet Home Chicago
5. Rambling On My Mind
6. Rambling On My Mind
7. When You Got A Good Friend
8. When You Got A Good Friend
9. Come On In My Kitchen
10. Come On In My Kitchen
11. Terraplane Blues
12. Phonograph Blues
13. Phonograph Blues
14. 32-20 Blues
15. They're Red Hot

16. Dead Shrimp Blues
17. Cross Road Blues
18. Walking Blues
19. Last Fair Deal Gone Down
(Thanks to Ric for a correction to the last 4 tracks)

1. Preaching Blues (Up Jumped The Devil)
2. If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day
3. Stones In My Passway
4. I'm A Steady Rollin' Man
5. From Four Till Late
6. Hellhound On My Trail
7. Little Queen Of Spades
8. Little Queen Of Spades
9. Malted Milk
10. Drunken Hearted Man
11. Drunken Hearted Man
12. Me And The Devil Blues
13. Me And The Devil Blues
14. Stop Breakin' Down Blues
15. Stop Breakin' Down Blues
16. Travelling Riverside Blues
17. Honeymoon Blues
18. Love In Vain
19. Love In Vain
20. Milkcow's Calf Blues
21. Milkcow's Calf Blues
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2010
Well let's see, if you took away Robert Johnson, you'd not have Gary Moore, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Paul Kossoff, Peter Green and many more, that would not be a bad thing as far as Eric Clapton is concerned, I think he has just ripped everyone off anyway, but RJ is the business. You cannot get better than this, and you will see where most of our wizz kids have nicked their work from.

Yes it is a scratchy recording, but just as when you read a tatty book, you still are able to get the context, so to with this recording, everything is clear. Some tracks actually sound like they were recorded yesterday too!
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