Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Blind Lemon Jefferson: King of the Country Blues [Yazoo, 1984]
In part Jefferson's prestige was a function of pop process--he made relatively accessible records for a relatively powerful company. What was revelatory about his music was its formal master, its eloquent lyrics and integral structures. In the absence of Blind Willie Johnson's big voice or Charlie Patton's emotive incorrigibility, that master does date some, especially because Jefferson was so ill-recorded, which Yazoo's best efforts can minimize but not mitigate. Also, I miss "Black Snake Moan" and glumly note the melodic leap that occurs when we come across the gospel number. Nevertheless, this is a document that rewards close attention with unparalleled pleasures. Making Jefferson a not atypical songpoet. A-