Preview: The Complete Original Masters: Centennial Edition - Robert Johnson (4 CDs, 12 Vinyl 45s, 1 DVD)

Artist: Robert Johnson
Title: The Complete Original Masters: Centennial Edition
Release Date: April 26, 2011
Label: Columbia Legacy
Format(s): 4-CDs, 12 Vinyl Replica 78's, DVD

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Robert Johnson's birth, Columbia Legacy will release a lavish box set that includes CDs, vinyl discs, a DVD and a book.

The components of the set:
  • A hardbound book containing twelve 78-RPM replica discs (repressed at 45 RPM) which was the entire output of Johnson's short career.  The book is meant to look like a standard 78 multi-sleeve album with room for a booklet containing a new 1,500 word essay by Ted Gioia, track information and discography data. 
  • Robert Johnson: The Centennial Collection, a 2-CD set which includes all 29 songs that Johnson recorded during 1936 and 1937.  There are a total of 42 masters and alternate takes of the songs.
  • Rarities From the Vault, a 2-CD set music from the Victor Vault and other labels from the San Antonio and Dallas music scene of the day.
  • The Life & Times of Robert Johnson: Can't You Hear the Wind Howl?, a 1997documentary on DVD by filmmaker Peter Meyer.  Danny Glover hosts with Keb Mo as Johnson and interviews with Robert Cray, Johnny Shines, John Hammond, Honeyboy Edwards, Robert Lockwood Jr., Henry Townsend, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards.
Only the Centennial Collection discs will be available as a separate product.  All of the rest must be purchased with the Original Masters: Centennial Edition at
Less than 14 months after Johnson's last recording date, he was dead at age 27. The young bluesman was poisoned with strychnine-laced whiskey by a jealous husband at a jook joint, and days later he died on the night of August 16, 1938. Gioia points out that the closest thing to a hit record Johnson would enjoy during his lifetime was his first release on Vocalion Records, Terraplane Blues b/w Kindhearted Woman Blues.  Ten more records were released while he lived, and one posthumously, Love in Vain b/w Preachin' Blues (Up Jumped The Devil).

"At times," Gioia writes, "the legend of Robert Johnson has threatened to overwhelm the artistry of the man – indeed nothing about this musician is more famous than the word-of-mouth accounts of him selling his soul to the devil at a midnight crossroads in exchange for his singular mastery of blues guitar… the best efforts of scholars to present this artist in ordinary, human terms have done little to cut through the mystique and mystery that continue to surround him. Robert Johnson remains larger than life, a figure from American music who has also become part and parcel of American mythology."  
Track List:

Robert Johnson: The Complete Original Masters: Centennial Edition Replica 78's
  • Sleeve 1: Vocalion 03416 – Kind Hearted Woman Blues (S1) / Terraplane Blues (S1)
  • Sleeve 2: Oriole 7-04-60 – 32-20 Blues (S2) / Last Fair Deal Gone Down (S3)
  • Sleeve 3: Conqueror 8871 – Dead Shrimp Blues (S3) / I Believe I'll Dust My Broom (S1)
  • Sleeve 4: Romeo 7-05-81 – Ramblin' On My Mind (S1) / Cross Road Blues (S3)
  • Sleeve 5: Romeo 7-07-57 – Come On In My Kitchen (S1) / They're Red Hot (S3)
  • Sleeve 6: Vocalion 03601 – Sweet Home Chicago (S1) / Walkin' Blues (S3)
  • Sleeve 7: Vocalion 03623 – From Four Until Late (D4) / Hell Hound On My Trail (D5)
  • Sleeve 8: Perfect 7-10-65 – Malted Milk (D5) / Milkcow's Calf Blues (D5)
  • Sleeve 9: Perfect 7-12-67 – Stones In My Passway (D4) / I'm A Steady Rollin' Man (D4)
  • Sleeve 10: Vocalion 04002 – Stop Breakin' Down Blues (D5) / Honeymoon Blues (D5)
  • Sleeve 11: Vocalion 04108 – Little Queen Of Spades (D5) / Me And The Devil Blues (D5)
  • Sleeve 12: Vocalion 04630 – Preachin' Blues (S3) / Love In Vain (D5)
Recording index:
  • S1 – San Antonio, Texas: Monday, November 23, 1936
  • S2 – San Antonio, Texas: Thursday, November 26, 1936
  • S3 – San Antonio, Texas: Friday, November 27, 1936
  • D4 – Dallas, Texas: Saturday, June 19, 1937
  • D5 – Dallas, Texas: Sunday, June 20, 1937
Robert Johnson: The Centennial Collection (2-CD set) (Also available separately)

Disc 1 (San Antonio Sessions)
  • Kindhearted Woman Blues (S1)
  • Kindhearted Woman Blues (alternate take) (S1)
  • I Believe I'll Dust My Broom (S1)
  • Sweet Home Chicago (S1)
  • Ramblin' On My Mind (S1)
  • Ramblin' On My Mind (alternate take) (S1)
  • When You Got A Good Friend (S1)
  • When You Got A Good Friend (alternate take) (S1)
  • Come On In My Kitchen (S1)
  • Come On In My Kitchen (alternate take) (S1)
  • Terraplane Blues (S1)
  • Phonograph Blues (S1)
  • Phonograph Blues (alternate take) (S2)
  • 32-20 Blues (S3)
  • They're Red Hot (S3)
  • Dead Shrimp Blues (S3)
  • Cross Road Blues (S3)
  • Cross Road Blues (alternate take) (S3)
  • Walking Blues (S3) 
  • Last Fair Deal Gone Down  (S3)
  • Preaching Blues (Up Jumped The Devil) (S3) 
  • If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day (S3).
Disc 2 (Dallas Sessions)
  • Stones In My Passway (D4)
  • I'm A Steady Rollin' Man (D4)
  • From Four Till Late (D4)
  • Hellhound On My Trail (D5)
  • Little Queen Of Spades (D5)
  • Little Queen Of Spades (alternate take) (D5)
  • Malted Milk (D5)
  • Drunken Hearted Man (D5)
  • Drunken Hearted Man  (alternate take) (D5)
  • Me And The Devil Blues (D5)
  • Me And The Devil Blues (alternate take) (D5)
  • Stop Breakin' Down Blues (D5)
  • Stop Breakin' Down Blues (alternate take) (D5)
  • Traveling Riverside Blues (D5)
  • Traveling Riverside Blues (alternate take) (D5)
  • Honeymoon Blues (D5) 
  • Love in Vain (D5)
  • Love in Vain (alternate take) (D5)
  • Milkcow's Calf Blues (D5) 
  • Milkcow's Calf Blues (alternate take) (D5)
Blues Rarities From the Vault (2-CD set)

Disc 1: Blues From the Victor Vault
  • South Memphis Blues - Frank Stokes
  • Bunker Hill Blues - Frank Stokes
  • Dry Land Blues - Furry Lewis
  • Cannonball Blues - Furry Lewis
  • She's Got Jordan River in Her Hips - R.T. Hanen
  • Happy Days Blues - R.T. Hanen
  • Expressman Blues - Sleepy John Estes
  • Sweet Mama - Sleepy John Estes
  • Fence Breakin' Blues - Shreveport Home Wreckers
  • Home Wreckin' Blues - Shreveport Home Wreckers
  • Canned Heat Blues - Tommy Johnson
  • Big Fat Mama Blues - Tommy Johnson
  • Leavin' Town - Ishman Bracey
  • The Four Day Blues - Isman Bracey
  • I Never Told a Lie - Memphis Minnie / Kansas Joe
  • Don't Want No Woman - Memphis Minnie / Kansas Joe
  • Real Estate Mama - Samuel "Fat" Westmoreland
  • Dreamin' Blues - Sammuel "Fat" Westmoreland
  • Cash Money Blues - Kaiser Clifton
  • Fort Worth and Denver Blues - Kaiser Clifton
  • Walking Blues - Charlie Kyle
  • No Baby Blues - Charlie Kyle
  • Lonesome Day Blues - Ruby Blaze & Blind Willie McTell
  • Searching the Desert for the Blues - Ruby Blaze & Blind Willie McTell
Disc 2: Also Playing...
  • The Engineer's Child - Chuck Wagon Gang
  • Que piensas tu que mi amore - Que piensas tu que mi amore
  • Ay! que bonitos ojitos - Andres Berlanga y Francisco Montalvo
  • Que Sera? - Hermanas Brazza y Daniel Palomo
  • Muchos Besos - Hermanas Brazza y Daniel Palomo
  • Tell Me Pretty Mama - Crystal Springs Ramblers
  • Down In Arkansas - Crystal Springs Ramblers
  • Breeze - Zeke Williams & His Rambling Cowboys
  • The Eyes of Texas - The Light Crust Doughboys
  • Stay Out of the South - The Light Crust Doughboys

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