Blind Lemon Jefferson
The Complete 94 Classic Sides
JSP (2003) 7706
4 CDs, 94 tracks, 275 minutes.
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: July 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
Blind Lemon Jefferson is another giant in a long line of bluesmen where fact and
fiction are permanently blurred. The year of his birth has been suggested as 1897, although it
seems 1893 is more likely, and there are conflicting beliefs about his vision; some feel he was
partially sighted, others support the theory that he was blind from birth, and it is also
thought to be fact that he made his living, at least for a period of time, as a
semi-professional wrestler. His death remains shrouded in mystery but it is believed to have
occurred in late December of 1929, although no death certificate has ever surfaced to
support the event. And even the circumstances surrounding his death are conflicting. It was
long considered that he froze to death in a blizzard in Chicago, but no one knows for sure
if he was abandoned by his driver and left to freeze in his car, or if he was helplessly
wandering in an attempt to locate shelter, ultimately meeting his end in a lonely snowdrift
on Chicago's windy streets. While it's doubtful that all the facts will ever come to light, Blind
Lemon Jefferson can be counted as one of the earliest and most influential of all country
bluesmen. He was a highly respected artist during his time whose records sold in great
numbers, and it was Jefferson's death in 1929, that sent Paramount scurrying to find a
replacement who could bring the same level of success. JSP Records is no newcomer to
issuing blues, but their recent boxed sets, including Charley Patton, John Lee Hooker,
Charlie Christian, The Carter Family and others, have piqued the interest of collectors
worldwide. This masterful 4-CD set with its bargain pricetag will certainly be the way to go
for those interested in hearing an early Texas guitar master, and one who influenced many
of the greats that followed, including Lightnin' Hopkins, B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Juke Boy
Bonner, or countless others. Jefferson was perhaps the first blues guitarist to use the
instrument for fleet-fingered, single note solos of incredible dexterity and the proof resides
here over 94 tracks, all remastered and sounding better than ever before. Jefferson's first
studio session (in either late 1925 or early '26) found him under the name of Deacon
L.J. Bates for I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart and All I Want Is That Pure
Religion, but his blues remain as signatures of both form and function. See That My
Grave Is Kept Clean, Broke And Hungry, Black Snake Moan, Easy Rider Blues, Match Box
Blues, Peach Orchard Mama and many more have become classics for the distinct
guitar work as well as the thoughtful lyrics Jefferson seems to have penned. But, as a
Paramount artist, his recordings suffered a similar fate as those of Son House and Charley
Patton; inferior pressing materials like wood shavings and glue caused the 78s to sound
pitiful, often before suffering further damage from Victrola needles. While these recordings
may never sound perfect, newer technology affords us a far better listening experience from
JSP with Blind Lemon Jefferson than what is available on Document or any other
competing label. Search no further for the best Blind Lemon Jefferson set. Historical
and highly recommended! www.jsprecords.com.futuresite.register.com/index.html
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