For reasons cultural, temporal, and technological, Robert Johnson has come to be revered as the fount of Delta blues.
For reasons cultural, temporal, and technological, Robert Johnson has come to be revered as the fount of Delta blues. But it's his elder fellow Mississippian Charley Patton (1891-1934) who has greater claim to be the true wellspring, as teacher and/or inspiration to such figures as Son House, Howlin' Wolf, and Pops Staples. If anything can redefine Patton's place in the public pantheon, it's this hyper-deluxe seven-CD boxed set—which is perhaps the greatest archival reissue of the CD age. No love was spared, from the gorgeously retro design (by Susan Archie) and nearly over-the-top packaging (including much very rare, vintage artwork) to the best-possible sound quality (which can still be rough) and exhaustive documentation and contextual essays (by such experts as Revenant's founder, the late avant-folk guitarist/scholar John Fahey). The Worlds of Charley Patton is justly titled, as it features not only the complete fruits of Patton's 1929-30 Paramount and 1934 ARC sessions but also an entire disc representing Patton's "orbit" of fellow bluesmen, songsters, and gospel singers, from Tommy Johnson and the Mississippi Sheiks to Howlin' Wolf and the Staple Singers. From feral to fun-loving to fervent, Patton's "Pony Blues," "A Spoonful Blues," "High Water Everywhere," and "I Shall Not Be Moved" are just a few of the evergreens that mark him as one of 20th-century America's most resonant artisans. For more info, see forcedexposure.com.—BB