(Roughly) Daily

“When Johnson started singing, he seemed like a guy who could have sprung from the head of Zeus in full armor”*…

 

Studio portrait (circa 1935), one of only three verified photographs of Robert Johnson

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Jon Wilde reports:

Eric Clapton once described Robert Johnson as, “the most important blues singer that ever lived”. The recordings that Johnson made between 1936 and 1937, collected in two volumes entitled King of the Delta Blues Singers, not only mark the apogee of the blues form, they stand among the most influential recordings of all time…

And now, nearly 50 years after Columbia first packaged his work as King of the Delta Blues, we discover that we’ve been listening to these immortal songs at the wrong speed all along. Either the recordings were accidentally speeded up when first committed to 78, or else they were deliberately speeded up to make them sound more exciting. Whatever, the common consensus among musicologists is that we’ve been listening to Johnson at least 20% too fast. Numerous bloggers have helpfully slowed down Johnson’s best-known work and provided samples so that, for the first time, we can hear Johnson as he intended to be heard

Or not.

* Bob Dylan

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As we make our deals with the Devil, we might recall that it was on this date in 1936 that Billboard magazine published the first pop music chart– the “Music Popularity Chart”– based on record sales.  A listing of the ten most popular records, it became a weekly feature in 1940.  It fluctuated in size from ten to 30 records until 1955, when Billboard introduced its first Top 100 chart.  The “Hot 100” chart, now recognized as the definitive singles chart in the US, was first published on August 4th, 1958.

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Written by LW

January 4, 2016 at 1:01 am

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