The Complete Collection review by Robert Johnson

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Jan 1, 1998
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.4 (19 votes)
Robert Johnson: The Complete Collection

Sound — 9
Robert Johnson is cited as a major influence by so many artists, both old and new, that it's hard to speak about his music in an unbiased context, but for anyone in any doubt about the quality then let the music speak for itself. Raw and brutal, powerful rather than harsh guitar work and stinging vocals all help take you back to a time when things were a lot simpler. I wouldn't expect to sit down and be able to listen to this collection all the way though in one go, the blues by it's very nature is repetitive, and all the songs contained within were only ever released as singles, You would listen and flip to the B side or put on something completely different altogether.

Lyrics — 8
Johnson's voice was made for the blues, or was the blues was made for Johnson? Well whichever it was it definitely works. His vocals are clear on every track, and he has a surprising vocal range, from mellow phrases to high pitched squeals. You have your standard blues lyrics in here, and then you have your really extra special stuff, Me and the devil blues for example. The references to Satan are what I love most, maybe because of the legend that goes with it, but it just feels 'new' somehow.

Overall Impression — 9
This is a must for any blues fan. Uncomplicated, raw music at it's best. There isn't anything to dislike about the album, It was made in a time when there wasn't the best equipment available, so the music really had to count, and it does. I would Buy again if it were stolen.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have most of the songs on this album. It is really phenomenal. Sometimes the guitar parts sound so textured that is difficult to believe that is all done by one guitar. One small piece of info- that stuff about the devil teaching him the guitar is also associated with another early bluesman called Tommy Johnson(no relation to Robert Johnson). It is not known that who claimed first, but as Robert Johnson is more well known today, more people associate that story with him. Enjoy the album, it is raw, powerful and contains some of the important blues recordings ever.
    Great reviews, there's several albums I've been wanting and this is high in the list. Robert Johnson was a simply incredible musician..he played rythm, lead, and sang all at the same time, with exceptional skill at that. It's easy to see why he's been so influential. Damn shame he didn't live longer, great musicians always die so young..