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Standing at the Crossroads

Standing at the Crossroads

Johnny Shines was part of the second generation of Mississippi Delta bluesmen, born in 1915 his style was influenced by Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Howlin’ Wolf, but his claim to fame was that he toured with Robert Johnson toward the end of that seminal artist’s short life. He didn’t meet with a great deal of success however, most of his recordings went unreleased, and spent most of his life working in construction. On this album (recorded in 1970) he sounds like a remnant of a bygone age. His voice is strong and the acoustic guitar playing excellent but the style is very much in the vein of his youth, perhaps inevitably so, and this is a good thing. 

Simple, unornamented but extremely proficient bottleneck guitar and a voice that’s full of feeling, works well in the context of a recording quality rarely afforded to this classic blues style. The 11 numbers he plays are traditional Delta tunes many of which Shines makes his own, you hear the ghost of Johnson on some but the same can be said of many great bluesmen. You can also hear why Shines never had the impact of his more successful contemporaries but that’s not to say this album is not a worth attention today when there are so few authentic players of his ilk remaining ‘undiscovered’. 

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