Culled from Johnson's albums for Mango recorded between 1978-1984, this is a distillation of work by the dub poet and the man who has perhaps been England's greatest contributor to reggae. While the great "Reggae Fi Peach" doesn't make it on here, and nor, even more surprisingly, does his excoriating immigrant tale "Inglan Is a Bitch," there are still plenty of gems in the album's 40 minutes, like "Independant Intavenshan" and "Sonny's Lettah (Anti-Sus Poem)," which might still stand as his best-ever track. Working in a sing-speak Jamaican patois, Johnson never pulls his punches, and why should he? He's seen plenty and experienced plenty at the hands of the English. The country might be his home, but that doesn't mean he can't see its myriad faults. The combination of Johnson's words and delivery with Dennis Bovell's production and leadership of the dub band is an almighty one-two punch, always going for the knockout blow, and the very best British reggae has had to offer: political, powerful, and penetrating.
Not a prolific composer, Thackery's strength lies in strong arrangements that make other people's material his own. He covers Stevie Ray Vaghan's "Rude Mood," and one suspects there will be comparisons made in this direction. His solos burn the motel down on Luther Johnson's "Lickin' Gravy," and he manages a more than credible job on Hendrix's "Red House." Of the two self-penned numbers, the title track is a convincing boogie driven by an ultra-cool, echoed, chicken-scratch guitar riff, while "Getting Tired of Waiting" offers a more traditional blues shuffle.
Perhaps the most difficult thing in writing about a box set like this is how to convey in words – few or many – the magic, wonder, and intimidating musicianship that is contained on these recordings. Over four CDs, the seeds, roots, branches, and trees of a musical partnership were formed and lived out on the public stage, and remain all but unknown to those who were not country music fans during the era. While one Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant compilation has appeared on Razor & Tie, as a single disc it only begins to offer the legend of this pair of musical innovators.
Here are the great musicians and singers that inspired Robert Johnson’s legendary performances. Peetie Wheatstraw, Charley Patton, Kokomo Arnold, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Skip James, Johnny Temple, Blind Blake, Leroy Carr, Tampa Red, The Mississippi Sheiks, Son House and more! These are the sources of both his powerful performing style and his compositional vision. This CD is a companion to the book “Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues”
Jimmy Witherspoon was either a blues singer who worked from a jazz perspective, or a jazz singer with blues tendencies, or most accurately, a blues singer who applied jazz rhythms to a gospel delivery, which makes him, in some ways, a less propulsive version of Ray Charles. This disc of his earliest recordings, most of them released on Modern Records, shows Witherspoon predominantly as a shouter, and he sounds like a man used to years of fronting a small jazz orchestra. In time his microphone technique would improve, and he learned how to let subtle nuances into his singing, working both ends of the hard/soft dynamic into his phrasing.
Just Across the River is the twelfth album by American singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb, released in June 2010 by Koch Records. The album features thirteen classic Jimmy Webb tunes performed by Webb with guest appearances by friends, collaborators, admirers, and fellow recording artists Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell, Michael McDonald, Mark Knopfler, J.D. Souther, Vince Gill, and Lucinda Williams.