Mississippi John Hurt

Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings

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Mississippi John Hurt's latter-day recordings after his rediscovery have somewhat obscured the importance of these debut sides -- the ones that made his rediscovery an idea initially worth pursuing. Archival recordings such as Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings are the collector's items that made his rep in the first place, and stand as some of the most poetic and beautiful of all country blues recordings. Hurt's playing is sheer musical perfection, with a keen sense of chord melody structure to make his bouncy, rhythmic execution of it sound both elegant and driving. Mississippi John's voice -- he was 36 at the time of these recordings -- was already a warm and friendly one, imbued with the laid-back wistfulness that would earmark his rediscovery recordings half-a-lifetime later. His best-known songs -- his adaptions of "Frankie (& Johnny)" and "Stack O' Lee," "Avalon Blues," "Nobody's Dirty Business," "Candy Man Blues" -- are all accounted for in their original incarnations here, and the NoNoiser remastering on this collection is superb. Mississippi John Hurt would go on to re-record this material for other labels in the '60s with fine results, but these are the originals -- the ones that much of his justifiable reputation rests on.

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