The Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson [Yazoo]

The Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson [Yazoo]

by Blind Lemon JeffersonBlind Lemon Jefferson


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Blind Lemon Jefferson's life contains a great deal of mystery. The date of his birth is uncertain, and the cause of his death -- heart failure? freezing during a blizzard? -- is unknown. What is known is that he left behind a number of blues recordings on which he accompanied himself on guitar. His expressive vocals and guitar work shine on well-worn classics like "Match Box Blues" or on unfamiliar songs like "Black Horse Blues." Preserving the fidelity of these recordings has been made difficult by poorly pressed records as well as the condition of the rare 78s. This is evident on "'Lectric Chair Blues" and "Prison Cell Blues," where surface noise cuts into the clarity of the lyrics. Still, both of these songs are effectively edgy because of their subject matter, with "'Lectric Chair Blues" being particularly chilling. Despite difficulties with fidelity, the majority of the vocals and guitar work are easy to discern and enjoy. The laid-back, relaxed quality of songs like "Bed Spring Blues" and "See That My Grave's Kept Clean" are unpretentious and disarming. Jefferson also covers the unusual "He Arose From the Dead" and "I Want to Be Like Jesus in My Heart," two religious blues pieces (one can only hope that neither were recorded in the same session with "Bed Spring Blues"). Jefferson's guitar work covers a number of styles including boogie runs on "Rabbit Foot Blues" and slide on "Jack O' Diamond Blues." The liner notes cover what little is know about Jefferson and offer a good discussion of his vocal and guitar styles. With The Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Yazoo has done a fine job of preserving Jefferson's music and of documenting the early history of blues recordings.

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