Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

24 Classic Blues Songs From the 1920's: Vol 15 [Blues Images, 2017]
As always, the deal here is 25 bucks plus the usual for a handsome vintage blues ad art calendar and a blues CD compiled by collector-designer John Tefteller. Seldom have these CDs reached out to nonspecialists by achieving a balance of accessible collectors' items and classics not yet worn thin. But this one is different, primarily but not exclusively because the American Epic people lent Teftweller their remastering apparatus, adding clarity, brightness, and presence to occasionals like Bo Weavil Jackson and Rev. Steamboat Bill's Revival Singers as well as titans like Charley Patton and Memphis Minnie. Direct comparison, for instance, revealed striking noise reduction on two songs that had never reached me--Tommy Johnson's "I Wonder to Myself" and Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Hot Dogs." Not that I was knocked out by sonics alone--as a shallow person, I prefer the Jefferson novelty. But all this music is now easier to hear for whatever it may be. My special favorites are two Memphis Minnies I hadn't previously registered, "Frisco Town" and "Goin' Back to Texas." My special discovery is Mississippi-to-Chicago pioneer Johnnie "Geechie" Temple. Without improved audio, his plaintive "The Evil Devil Blues," about a love triangle rather than a meeting at the crossroads, might have captivated me anyway. But chances are not. A-