Friday, May 31, 2013

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Blind Lemon Jefferson was born in 1897 and recorded 80 sides (25 selections appear on this CD) from 1926 through to his untimely death in 1930. He was one of the first to record country blues and his powerful, agonizing voice and instrumental work brought him fame and allowed him to make a living - something that was certainly difficult for a man doubly cursed by his color and his blindness in the early 1900's.

His legacy endures and his influence and his songs have been passed through the years. His "Match Box Blues" alone has been done by such performers as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and the Beatles! "That Black Snake Moan" was adapted (pretty freely) for the movie of that name and songs like "Jack O'Diamonds Blues" have been covered by many, including Odetta. Plenty of others cite his influence - Leadbelly said that they worked as a team at one point and even the great T Bone Walker was the man's "lead-boy" for a time.

This is fine country-blues - mostly just Jefferson and his guitar, although there is piano accompaniment on a couple and another guitar, which the liner notes say "may" be Leadbelly on "Lonesome House Blues". The voice is the big selling point for me - strong is an understatement - emotional and filled with pain. The guitar tends to be a bit buried in this early recording process (although the sound is quite good here) but it is solid and fits the songs perfectly.

A great example of early, acoustic blues done by a highly influential master of the field.