Music Reviews

R.L. Burnside

First Recordings

Fat Possum

R.L. Burnside has been a raucous and rowdy mainstay of the Mississippi juke joint scene for years now, successfully widening his sound to include modern elements (e.g. DJs and hip-hop signatures), generally to good ends. But as this 1968 set of recordings shows, Burnside is no slouch when it comes to simple acoustic blues. Made up mainly of what are considered to be the “standards” of Delta blues – material such as “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” “Walkin’ Blues” and “Dust My Broom” – R.L. sounds a bit like Mississippi Fred McDowell, alternating between slide guitar and fingerstyle blues. His gravelly voice is a perfect complement to the spare guitar, and his presentation here is a bit more restrained than he has become known for recently, but it is no less compelling. Burnside is one of the few authentic Delta bluesmen left, and this look at how he started shows he hit the ground running. He is unlikely to ever be caught.

Fat Possum Records:

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