Various Artists – The Rough Guide To Delta Blues (Vol.2)


The Rough Guide To Delta Blues (Vol.2)

Various Artists – The Rough Guide To Delta Blues (Vol.2)
Format: CD
Label: World Music Network/Rough Guides
Release: 2022

Release date: April 29, 2022

The origins of the Mississippi Delta blues are as deep and wide as the river itself. From the towering influence of Charley Patton and Son House to lesser-known artists shrouded in mystery, these seminal recordings helped lay the foundations for the electric blues and rock explosion to come.

There can be few finer examples of how grand culture can emerge from the most horrendous conditions and then flourish than the story of the Delta blues. Born of the oppressed labouring the rich soils of the Mississippi Delta region, no other  musical form has had such an enduring influence on western rock culture.

Located in the heart of the Delta, Clarksdale has often been dubbed the birthplace of the Delta blues, with the precise spot attributed to the Dockery Plantation. Amongst the many sharecropping families and field workers that lived there was one Henry Sloan. Little is known about Sloan, other than he was born around 1870 and that he was a popular singer and guitarist of the area by the 1900s. Although he never recorded, he acted as a mentor to several bluesmen who in turn became legends of the genre including Tommy Johnson, Willie Brown and Charley Patton.

If ever there was a valid claim to being the true ‘King of the Delta blues’, then surely this belongs to Charley Patton. It’s unfortunate that the hiss and crackle that bedevilled Patton’s original recordings for many years has prevented him from receiving the same adulation that surrounds the cult of Robert Johnson, another Delta legend synonymous with Clarksdale whom Patton greatly inspired. Unlike many of his early Delta contemporaries, Patton’s recorded output drew on his vast repertoire, such as the featured ‘Shake It And Break It’ which captures the humour of the hokum tradition.

Like Patton, other early Delta musicians headed to the northern states and cities for recording sessions then returned to their homes in the Delta to continue playing juke joints, country dances and fish fries. Although success was generally fleeting for this first wave of Delta performers who often died young or drifted into obscurity, among them were several key bluesmen who would later play a central role in the blues revival of the 1960s including Son House, Skip James and Bukka White. Both House and White had served time in the notorious Parchman Farm, and their rural blues had a similarly tough earthiness and urgency created by their distinctive bottleneck style of playing. Likewise, Skip James created anacutely distressing intensity to his sound by accompanying his haunting falsetto vocals with a dazzling guitar picking style in the unorthodox open D minor (cross-note) tuning.

Unlike the classic female blues which exploded in popularity in the early 1920s, the Delta blues was dominated by one man and his guitar. There were however notable exceptions including Memphis Minnie, a brilliant guitarist and undoubtedly the most popular and influential female country blues singer of all time. Mattie Delaney was another fine female guitarist as can be heard on ‘Down The Big Road Blues’ a classic rendition of one of Tommy Johnson’s trademark songs.


Bukka White – District Attorney Blues
Joe Callicott – Fare Thee Well Blues
Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe – Can I Do It For You? – Part 1
Skip James – Cherry Ball Blues
Big Joe Williams – Little Leg Woman
Bo Carter – Shake ‘Em On Down
Arthur Petties – Good Boy Blues
Willie “Poor Boy” Lofton – It’s Killin’ me
Mattie Delaney – Down The Big Road Blues
Charley Patton – Shake It And Break It (But Don’t Let It Fall Mama)
Robert Wilkins – Rolling Stone Part 1
Mississippi Bracey – I’ll Overcome Some Day
Tommy Johnson – Maggie Campbell Blues
Mississippi Matilda – Happy Home Blues
Son House – Dry Spell Blues – Part 1
Sonny Boy Nelson – Pony Blues
Rube Lacey – Ham Hound Crave
Louise Johnson – All Night Long Blues
Ishman Bracey – Saturday Blues
Mississippi Mud Steppers – Vicksburg Stomp
Willie Brown – Future Blues
Garfield Akers – Cottonfield Blues – Part 1
Jelly Jaw Short – Grand-Daddy Blues
The Mississippi Moaner – Mississippi Moan
Johnnie Temple – Big Boat Whistle
Kid Bailey – Mississippi Bottom Blues