TOMMY JOHNSON/ISHMAN BRACEY
CANNED HEAT BLUES - THE LEGENDARY 1928 MEMPHIS SESSIONS (VINYL LP)
Cool Drink Of Water, Big Road Blues, Bye Bye Blues, Maggie Campbell Blues, Canned Heat Blues, Lonesome Home Blues, Big Fat Mama, Saturday Blues, Left Alone Blues, Leavin' Town Blues, Brown Mama Blues, Trouble Hearted Blues, Four Day Blues
After a break of over 25 years, JSP re-enter the vinyl album market and they start with a peach - the historic, hugely influential and still majestic Tommy Johnson recordings from 1928.
While only totalling seven songs, each of these was to prove somehow pivotal in creating the template, repertoire and standard that Mississippi delta blues was to follow. In doing this, he was second perhaps only to Charlie Patton in influence, though in terms of ‘dealing with the devil' myth-making and dissolute life-style he created the path that Robert Johnson was to follow nearly a decade later. And, while other Tommy Johnson recordings were later discovered, it is these few that established the reputation.
Side 2 is given over to six sides from friend, musical accomplice and travelling partner, Ishman Bracey. These are all exemplary delta blues numbers. Bracey was reputedly a better musician than Johnson (as outlined in Neil Slaven's excellent new liner notes to this LP) but somehow was never afforded the legendary status that posterity has gifted to Johnson.
If, like me, you already have these titles on an old Roots LP (RL330), with the same running order and even an additional alternate take from both Johnson and Bracey, you might well question whether you need to buy this again. Quite simply, this new version, on high quality 180g vinyl has a much superior sound. The re-mastered versions used here by JSP have successfully removed much of the surface noise that earlier generations of LPs did not have the advanced technology to deliver. If you do want these titles on vinyl therefore, they have never sounded better than here.
Review Date: Febraury 2014