Various Artists

Masters of the Delta Blues: The Friends of Charlie Patton

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As the most popular blues craftsman of the Mississippi Delta, Charley Patton had a resounding influence on many of the musicians that passed through the region during the '20s and '30s. Following his initial session for Paramount in 1929, he recommended both Son House and Willie Brown, as well as his mistress Louise Johnson and common-law wife Bertha Lee, to legendary talent scout H.C. Speir for recordings of their own. Furthermore, casual acquaintances like Tommy Johnson, Ishmon Bracey, and Kid Bailey acquired Patton themes, adopting them to suit their own style and playing ability, emerging with a handful of country blues classics in the process. Masters of the Delta Blues: The Friends of Charley Patton focuses on Patton's role as musical disseminator, gathering sides from all the above mentioned artists, along with a pair of recordings by admirer Bukka White. Patton's legacy is unquestionable, but the works of his contemporaries are hardly examples of second-rate imitation. Though Brown made recordings for the Library of Congress during the 1940s, his commercial output was extremely limited -- an unfortunate fact, given the quality of his "Future Blues." Joining Brown, Patton, and Louise Johnson for a session at Paramount in the '30s, Son House cut a handful of the finest sides of his career. Though his music would retain an undeniable power into the 1960s, he arguably never topped the likes of "Walking Blues," "My Black Mama," "Dry Spell Blues," and "Preachin' the Blues," four explosions of raw Delta blues. Also exceptional are Kid Bailey's "Rowdy Blues," Tommy Johnson's "Button Up Shoes" and "Maggie Campbell Blues," and Bukka White's "I Am in the Heavenly Way." Possibly the finest topical country blues compilation in Yazoo's catalog, Masters of the Delta Blues is also essential listening for anyone with more than a casual interest in the genre.

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