WITH BIG WALTER HORTON/STANDING AT THE CROSSROADS (2CD)
Floating World (FLOATD6188)
Hello Central, Worried Life Blues, I Want To Warn You, Death Hearse Blues, Crying Black Angel, Kind -Hearted Woman, Down In Spirit and more...
Johnny Shines has recently been back in the news, featured as the ‘other man' in an unearthed photograph that purports to be the third photo of Robert Johnson believed to exist. Whether or not this turns out to be the case (the internet is full of doubts on the validity of this one), it is certainly the case that the legacy of Johnny Shines as a bluesman is too often as a footnote to that of his more famous and mythical one-time friend and travelling partner. While the linkages between the two are fair enough, Shines warrants much more acclaim as a significant bluesman in his own right, and the welcome re-issue of these two Testament albums can only help this.
Standing At The Crossroads, recorded in 1970, presents Shines in the guise of a country bluesman, just him and guitar on a fine set of originals and standards (including a few Robert Johnson numbers) and it is beautifully sung and played throughout.
With Big Walter Horton is perhaps the more significant album though, presenting Shines in the context of fronting a more modern Chicago blues band, including not only the immense harp contribution of Walter Horton but variously some great support from the likes of Otis Spann on piano, Luther Allison on guitar and Fred Below on drums. Recorded in two separate sessions in 1966 and 1969, this is an outstanding example of the flexibility and variety that Shines was able to offer, above and beyond the delta blues stylings that he and Johnson first became renowned for.
Johnny Shines is undoubtedly a major figure in the history of blues music and these significant albums are an important part of his recorded legacy. Need we say any more?
Review Date: April 2013