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A still-relevant pioneer

Delta Blues and Spirituals
Delta Blues and Spirituals
By Son House

Capitol Records: 1995

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This review first appeared in the July 28, 1995 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

The late Son House was a contemporary of Robert Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson. A powerful singer, House remained a force on the blues scene until his retirement shortly after this set was recorded in England in 1970. (This is one in a new series of blues reissues launched last month by Capitol Records. Other artists included in the series are Lightning Hopkins, Sonny Terry, Muddy Waters and T-Bone Walker.)

House brought an incredible passion to both his singing and his singular slide guitar playing. His rural Delta blues preserved some of the earliest traditions of the music, although his recorded performances here consistently sound as fresh and relevant today as when they were laid down a quarter century ago.

House's monologue to start this album, "The B.L.U.E.S.," offers a pretty incredible first-person account of what it was like for the first generation of blues artists. (In fact, Skip McDonald samples a good chunk of the monologue on a recent album by his Little Axe project, "The Wolf That House Built.")