The Mississippi Delta is the fertile alluvial plain in the north-west of the State. Below is a list of albums made by artists from the Delta who, in the early years of the 20th century, played in a quite distinctive style. This local folk idiom became known as ‘The Blues’ and went on to revolutionise Western popular music.
SON HOUSE – ORIGINAL DELTA BLUES
This collection if 16 tracks gives an excellent overview of Son’s work, and represents terrific value. It is taken from the earlier ‘Father of the Blues’ album, a double CD of his wider repertoire which might appeal to the serious collector.
MISSISSIPPI FRED McDOWELL – YOU GOTTA MOVE
This 19 track compilation is taken from the Arhoolie sessions in 1964 and 1966, recorded near Fred’s home. His wife Annie-Mae sings backing vocals on a couple of tracks and when they cut a few more at Eli Green’s place, he joined in on second guitar. This original country Blues lets us look through a window into another world.
BUKKA WHITE – THE COMPLETE
This 14 track collection consists of the 12 tracks Bukka put down for Vocalion in 1940, plus the two he had cut before he went to jail. This is undoubtedly his finest work.
SKIP JAMES – BLUES FROM THE DELTA
These Vanguard recordings from the 60s were a revelation when they were first issued. These 20 tracks show Skip’s brilliant repertoire and his passionate, ethereal vocal performance more than makes up for his somewhat rusty guitar technique.
JUNIOR KIMBROUGH – YOU BETTER RUN
Fat Possum have selected tracks from all three albums Junior recorded for them, and added ‘Release Me’ from a 1967 recording with Charlie Feathers. This is bone-chilling yet compulsive Blues.
SAM CHATMON – SAM CHATMON 1970-1974
Sam’s ‘Advice’ album is a vinyl collectors item, but this 22 track collection has all Sam’s greatest tracks.
COREY HARRIS – MALI TO MISSISSIPPI
The African recordings are quite literally ‘field recordings’ and suitably rough, and the Delta selection includes some classic sounds.
ALVIN ‘Youngblood’ HART – BIG MAMA’S DOOR
Fourteen solo tracks, some with help from Taj Mahal, made a big impact.
BIG JACK JOHNSON – THE OIL MAN
Big Jack made his solo debut in 1987 with this powerful album.
LOUISIANA RED – BEST OF…
This sampler gives you 16 tracks from the 60s and 70s.
TOMMY McCLENNAN – COTTON PICKIN’ BLUES
This astounding collection of 25 tracks shows a good proportion of Tommy’s recordings, joined by Robert Petway on some of them.
JOHNNY SHINES – JOHNNY SHINES WITH BIG WALTER HORTON
Johnny at his raw electric best, with ‘Shakey’ Horton joined by Otis Spann, Fred Below, and even Luther Allison on a couple of tracks.
DAVE ‘Honeyboy’ EDWARDS – DON’T MISTREAT A FOOL
You will never hear Honeyboy in better form. His voice is powerful and his guitar work masterful, and although this music was not fashionable when it was recorded, it has timeless quality.
BO CARTER – BANANA IN YOUR FRUIT BASKET; RED HOT BLUES 1931/36.
Bo Carter could really play Blues guitar, and his excellent fingerpicking backs up these 14 different metaphors for sex. This is a ‘hokum Blues’ classic.
MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT – THE COMPLETE STUDIO SESSIONS
John’s talents stayed with him right to the end, and this priceless music opens a broad window on the origins of the Blues. John’s effortless mastery of fingerstyle guitar and impassioned singing show why he was such a major discovery and we are so lucky to have these superb documents.
PINETOP PERKINS – BACK ON TOP
Pinetop gives some familiar material his own special touch. Still in fine voice and with a bagful of superb piano licks, this is mature, thoughtful Blues.
FRANK STOKES – THE BEST OF FRANK STOKES
Twenty two of Frank’s tunes, all with help from Dan Sane, show how influential their guitar work was. Unlike the heavy slashing style associated with Delta players, the subtle interplay produces a light, melodic shade of Blues.
HOUSTON STACKHOUSE – BIG ROAD BLUES
This album gives an insight into the work of an unspoilt Delta Blues player whose unwillingness to move out of his comfort zone preserved a technique from before WWII.
BIG JOE WILLIAMS – SHAKE YOUR BOOGIE
The ‘Tough Times’ album established Big Joe as a uniquely talented musician and a classic Blues shouter, while the second part has more contemporary concerns, and he is helped out by Charlie Musselwhite.
R L BURNSIDE – FIRST RECORDINGS
Those early field-recordings by George Mitchell, and a few more old tracks that Adelphi have been sitting on, find the hugely under-rated RL in stunning form.
PAPA GEORGE LIGHTFOOT – NACHEZ TRACE
Papa George gives up some wicked harp tunes and an unbelievable voice in front of a band that includes future Southern Soul legend, Tommy Tate.
ROBERT NIGHTHAWK – GREATEST BLUES LICKS
New collection of tracks from all periods of Robert’s career, from the old Bluebird material to his work with Big John Wrencher and the sublime Pinetop Perkins.
WALTER VINSON – THE COMPLETE RECORDED WORKS
This 24 track compilation, has Walter’s work with Mary Butler and Leroy Carter, some fiddle tracks and the best of Walter’s singing, but the quality of sound is variable. Songs include ‘Rats Been on My Cheese’ and ‘When the Breath Bids the Body Goodbye’.
LONNIE PITCHFORD – ALL AROUND MAN
Simply one of the best acoustic Blues albums of the late 20th Century. Lonnie plays like woke up in 1928.