Charley Patton

King of the Delta

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The story of Delta blues starts with Charley Patton's slashing slide style, hoarse and gruff vocals, and unerring ability to enliven and enlarge even the most mundane blues lyric. Patton's 78s have been collected in several fine packages, including the JSP box called Complete Recordings: 1929-1934, Catfish's nifty three-disc budget box called The Definitive Charley Patton, and the last word in all this, the impressive (and expensive) seven-disc Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues from Revenant Records. This single-disc selection from Indigo Records works as an inexpensive single-disc introduction to Patton, and it contains his best-known songs like "Pony Blues," the two-part "High Water Everywhere," "Down the Dirt Road Blues," "High Sheriff Blues," "A Spoonful Blues," and "Revenue Man Blues." Since Patton's rhythms and overall approach can be repetitive at times, casual listeners wondering what all the fuss is about might be better served with a single disc like this one that hones things down a bit, but Patton's work is both the Big Bang and the epicenter of country blues, so going a little deeper and springing for one of the box sets is well worth the time and expense.

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