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RORY BLOCK The Lady And Mr. Johnson Rykodisc (2006)

Rory Block

Rory Block grew up on a staple diet of the blues and on Robert Johnson in particular. Every day she would practice her guitar and every night she'd fall asleep listening to reel-to-reel tapes of country blues.

By 16, she'd taken lessons from Son House - the seminal blues man who'd been one of Johnson's contemporaries and mentors. She made her first record in the mid-sixties (How To Play Blues Guitar) and 30 years later she was named Traditional Blues Female Artist Of The Year in 1997 and 1998.

So it was only a matter of time before Rory put together a homage (13 tracks in all) to Robert Johnson's Delta blues classics. And she's not attempted interpretations. No, she's kept the sound as pure as possible - just vocals and an acoustic guitar in an attempt to recreate the originals - using today's technology - as faithfully as possible.

The recording and the performances are immaculate, but it's difficult to know who this will appeal to. It was clearly a labour of love for Rory who puts in some terrific blues guitar work and her emotive vocals complement her choice of material. But I'm not sure it will appeal to purists (who will want to reach for the Johnson originals) and it's probably to ‘pure' for the cross over market. But it should appeal to Rory's existing fan base.


Review by Pete Whalley

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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