Robert Johnson

King of the Electric Blues Singers [Bootleg]

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One can either view this bootleg, lo-fi six song cassette as a multi-track experiment gone terribly wrong, the ultimate bad taste commercialization and bastardization of Johnson's music or a practical joke of the highest order, take your pick. The accompanying "press release" (everything on this homemade "package'" has been Xeroxed again and again) claims that in the early 1970s an executive at Columbia Records requisitioned the Johnson masters from the company vaults, then surreptitiously booked a session with a blues-rock band signed to the label overdubbing themselves on top of them. The idea (supposedly) was to make Johnson more accessible to rock audiences by doing a "Buddy Holly" on him (modern-day backings dubbed onto solo tapes). The end result would then be marketed via album (hence the goofy title) and singles, getting further mileage out of the slim Johnson catalog. However, as the six songs clearly prove, the band doing the overdubbing were no match for Johnson's irregular time and chord changes, and the whole project was abandoned after the one session. While the players (highly amplified and very distorted lead guitar, bass, and drums) lock in here and there -- "Sweet Home Chicago" and "Walkin' Blues" are the best-played examples of what they were attempting to do -- they frequently stumble and lose the beat, lay in wait for the next change to come, or just merely blast away, seemingly oblivious to what is happening on the original recording. While most blues fans will find this whole experiment blues heresy of the highest order (the audio equivalent of painting a headband on the Mona Lisa, not to mention the trashiest, cash-grabbing corruption of Robert's art imaginable), those with a nose for the perverse, the odd, and the just plain weird will want to hear this cheezoid collection at least once.