Blind Lemon Jefferson

Matchbox Blues

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In 1998 Indigo Records reissued 23 chestnuts from the Blind Lemon Jefferson discography, originally recorded between March 1926 and September 1929. Laid out in chronological sequence, there are seven selections from 1926, eight from 1927, five from 1928, and only three from 1929. Everything heard here was recorded in Chicago except for "Black Snake Moan" and the "Match Box Blues," which were waxed in Atlanta, GA in March 1927; and the "Bed Springs Blues" which was the first of 12 sides cut at Lemon's last session, which took place in Richmond, IN on September 24, 1929. This collection might easily be confused with Match Box Blues: The Very Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson, issued in 2004 on the Pony Canyon label. Indeed Texas bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson (1897-1929) left a legacy of approximately one hundred phonograph recordings, which have since been reissued by numerous companies, each apparently intending to provide the world with a definitive slice of Lemon. Incredibly, most commentators expend their energies obsessing over the sound quality of these relics and only get around to discussing the music itself after cautioning listeners about the seemingly insurmountable task of listening through large numbers of crusty old records. This attitude entirely misses the point of Blind Lemon in particular and classic blues in general. Part of the Blind Lemon experience is the sound of the original medium itself. Hearing a series of his Paramount recordings (initially pressed onto notoriously biodegradable 78 rpm platters) is a profoundly humbling experience that is organically distinct from the crisp, clean audiophile standards that characterize the listening habits of most 21st century iPod users. Additionally, Blind Lemon mystifies and even repels some listeners who are accustomed to "beats" and "grooves." This music is as elemental as the seasons. It's about existence and the human condition. It will not drive your car down the expressway for you the way most modern electric blues records do. Instead Lemon creates an almost trance-like ritual of the blues; one must enter his private personal space, submit to his voice, and allow his guitar to paint the backgrounds for images hatched in the heart and sung in a voice like nobody else's. Note that "Hot Dogs" is the most upbeat record Lemon ever made; extra percussion is generated by the guitarist's feet as he tap dances while hawking wieners.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:55
2 2:57
3 3:09
4 3:08
5 3:00
6 3:04
7 2:53
8 3:02
9 2:54
10 2:54
12 2:48
13 2:46
14 2:47
15 2:27
16 2:53
17 2:39
18 2:47
19 2:58
20 2:46
21 2:44
22 3:04
23 3:05
blue highlight denotes track pick