Arguably the most influential blues guitarist ever, Robert Johnson’s legend was born when he died at age 27 under mysterious circumstances in 1938. About two years earlier he recorded 16 tracks at San Antonio’s Gunter Hotel, and nine of those tracks are revitalized in this 10-track gem produced by Grammy-winning Chris Goldsmith (Blind Boys of Alabama) and conceived by Todd Park Mohr, singer and guitarist of Big Head Todd and The Monsters. In fact, that’s all the “Big Head Blues Club” is: Big Head Todd and the Monsters with the help of illustrious guests like B.B. King (guitar and vocals in “Crossroads Blues”), Charlie Musselwhite (“Come On In My Kitchen”), Hubert Sumlin and Ruthie Foster (“When You Gotta Good Friend,” and Foster by herself on “Kind Hearted Woman”), and Park Mohr himself (vocals and guitar in “All My Love’s in Vain”). Except for on the respectful “Vain,” the band didn’t stick too closely to Johnson’s versions, adding arrangements to fit the talents of their various guests. Despite its low budget, the results sound gorgeous, keep the essence of the songs intact, and reaffirm Johnson as a genius of all ages.
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