Friday, April 2, 2021

Archive Review: Son House's The Very Best of Son House (2006)

Son House's The Very Best of Son House
Son House is a name known by even the most casual of blues fans, but few have heard his amazing performances in their original context or understand his place in the history of the blues. Eddie House Jr. was brought up in the church, preaching at plantation churches at the age of fifteen. He didn’t even pick up a guitar until the age of twenty-five, but after discovering the temptations of the juke joint, his die was cast as a bluesman. House played alongside the legendary Charley Patton for years, and no less of legends than Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson were led to the blues by House.

The Very Best of Son House opens with three early (and rare) House recordings from 1930, “My Black Mama,” “Walking Blues,” and “Dry Spell Blues.” Technologically cleaned up as much as possible from the original cheap Paramount 78s, these raw, scratchy performances are valuable not only as historical artifacts but also as signposts for the intense, incredible music that would follow. House’s recording sessions in the early ‘40s with the Smithsonian’s Alan Lomax are better-suited to modern ears, House delivering scorching readings of well-worn songs like “Levee Camp Blues,” “Depot Blues,” and the haunting “Walking Blues (Death Letter).”

A handful of sides from ‘60s round out The Very Best of Son House, including the always-thrilling gospel rave-up “John the Revelator.” At once one of the most respected and yet overlooked of the original Delta bluesmen, Son House wrote the blueprint that a bunch of white boys from England would later use to create blues-rock some four decades later. If you haven’t listened to Son House, you haven’t heard the blues. (Shout! Factory Records, released November 1, 2006)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 2006

Buy the CD from Son House’s The Very Best of Son House

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