Not a blues singer in the generally accepted sense, Blind Willie Johnson was really a singing preacher with a killer slide guitar style and a guttural voice that indicated clearly that he wasn't about to mess around with the small stuff. While many blues singers woke up in the morning wondering where their lovers went, Johnson woke up wondering about their souls. His was a desolate, cold world where the one true goal was deliverance, and his genius as a musician was in his ability to convey the darkness that reaches toward the light. This collection from Rev-Ola contains 23 of the 30 tracks Johnson recorded in his lifetime, and all of the indispensable cuts are here, including "God Moves on the Water," "John the Revelator," the chilling, beautiful, and wordless "Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)," the Old Testament fire and brimstone of "If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down," and his clearest statement of position, "The Soul of a Man." Everything Johnson recorded is available in a two-disc set from Columbia Records, but as single-disc compilations go, this one does nicely.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett
feat: Willie Johnson