Various Artists

Beg, Borrow or Steal: The Origins, Music and Influence of Robert Johnson

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An ambitious box set that only a British blues enthusiast would be crazy enough to compile, Beg, Borrow or Steal: The Origins, Music and Influence of Robert Johnson tries to flesh out the ghosts of Robert Johnson's past, present, and future in one fell swoop. For newcomers to the blues reissue market, this is a pretty tempting package if you can find it. You basically get a good overview of pre-Depression-era Delta blues in disc one ("The Origins"); The Complete Recordings -- minus the alternate takes -- in disc two ("The Music"); and a so-so overview of postwar readings of Johnson's work in disc three ("The Influence"). The challenge of fitting Robert Johnson's influence on a single CD ultimately leaves this box set falling short of its goal; in shooting for a diversity of styles on disc three, compiler Russell Beecher lets a few duds slip by (the tentative covers by Peter Green Splinter Group are a low point). As good as the British bluesmen and Johnny Winter are, it also would have been nice to see a few '60s folk-blues revivalists (Taj Mahal, Paul Geremia, et al.) represented, although that's a minor quibble. If you already own The Complete Recordings by Robert Johnson, you can probably skip this one -- chances are your collective discography already covers most of what appears on Beg, Borrow or Steal.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:16
2 3:00
3 2:54
4 3:04
5 2:59
6
3:02
7 3:04
8 3:08
9 3:07
10 2:51
11 3:04
12 3:04
13 3:06
14 3:18
15 2:57
16 3:09
17 2:51
18 2:38
19 2:41
20 2:37
21 2:46
22 2:58
23 2:31
24 2:54
25 3:02
26 2:53
27 2:25
28 2:37
29 2:26
30 2:17
31 3:02
32 2:53
33 2:52
34 2:37
35 2:40
36 2:32
37 2:30
38 2:18
39 2:39
40 2:59
41 2:41
42 2:14
43 2:20
44 2:27
45 2:18
46 10:51
47 3:12
48 2:46
49 2:15
50 3:27
51 2:46
52 3:54
53 4:01
54 4:39
55 2:31
56 4:46
57 2:35
58 2:40
59 2:31
60 3:05
61 3:41
blue highlight denotes track pick