Raw Delta Blues (GATEFOLD, 2LP VINYL SET)
Artist: Son House
Cat No: NOT2LP138
Son House was one of the musicians to play a profound role in the development of both successive black and white blues players – legendary figures like Howlin’ Wolf would tip their hats to him and he was a primary influence on Muddy Waters, while the hundreds of white rockers to have acknowledged his importance over the years include the Rolling Stones, Lynryd Skynryd, Bonnie Raitt and Canned Heat.
It is the song that kicks off this compilation, ‘Death Letter Blues’, that fans most associate with Son House. His signature tune and certainly one of the most anguished, emotionally charged songs ever to come out of the blues, this was a lament by a man who received a letter one morning telling him of the death of the woman he loved. Based on the 1930 recording ‘My Black Mama’, it became a highlight of his live shows in the late Sixties where it went on for as long as 15 minutes.
The Columbia album relaunched Son House’s career. He would gig in the United States regularly – a standout being his appearance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – and he also toured Europe, notably in 1967 and 1970, when he played the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival. The latter tour also saw him cut a memorable session for John Peel’s Top Gear radio show and release an album for Liberty, ‘Son House – John The Revelator’, the title track of which became very popular. Live he was riveting, hunched over his guitar; he moved one observer to note ‘the blues possessed him like a lowdown shakin’ chill.’
He died in Detroit, Michigan on 19 October 1988 but, in the years since, House’s influence and reputation have continued to grow. A new generation of white rockers have discovered his legacy – US southern rockers Govt Mule covered ‘John The Revelator’ as did British painter, poet and primal rocker Billy Childish and his band, the Buff Medways. Sheffield’s Gomez were another outfit to namecheck the master but it was platinum-selling Detroit rockers the White Stripes who introduced his music to a whole new legion of young fans, dedicating their eponymous debut album to him and covering ‘Death Letter Blues’ on their ‘De Stijl’ set. Son was an original, one of the most innovative players of all time. As Muddy Waters so aptly put it, ‘Back where I came from, down in the Delta, Son House was the king!’
Also available on CD