King of the Delta Blues is a single-disc set that collects Son House's Library of Congress sessions for Alan Lomax in 1940 and 1941, and House's huge rasping voice and vibrant slide guitar style are everywhere here, both on the solo selections and on a handful of African-American string band pieces that finds friends Leroy Williams (harmonica), Fiddlin' Joe Martin (mandolin), and Willie Brown (guitar) lending a hand. These intimate field recordings, which were tracked at Clack's Store near Cormorant, Mississippi, combined with House's complete Paramount recordings from 1930, which amounted to three double-sided 78s ("My Black Mama," "Preachin' the Blues," and "Dry Spell Blues"), form the true heart of House's legacy, since his rediscovery sides for Columbia in the 1960s catch him, quite honestly, with diminishing powers. Catfish got it exactly right by combining everything here with House's powerfully dynamic Paramount 78s for 2000's Preachin' the Blues, and it remains the only truly essential Son House purchase.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett