Through his portrayal of Tommy Johnson (the real-life composer of "Canned Heat Blues"), Chris Thomas King brought some Delta blues to the bluegrass-driven O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. In addition to providing a cinematic breakthrough for the New Orleans-based artist, the role has sparked King's finest album in more than a decade, with a cycle of songs inspired by (but not included in) the movie. Channeling the musical spirit of Tommy (which means forsaking the hip-hop samples and scratching King typically employs), the progressive bluesman traces the arc of the music's development, from the gospel grace of "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" and acoustic lilt of "Flooded in the Delta" through the syncopated call and response of "Watermelon Man" and the supercharged rock of "Do Fries Go with That Shake?" As a multitalented musician (who plays everything here), producer, singer, and songwriter, King combines an intuitive affinity for where the music's been with a progressive vision of where it's headed. --Don McLeese
Chris Thomas King
NR (Not Rated)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an ambitious album, and a very successful one. The tracks, in order, summarize the 20th century evolution of the blues. The first songs on the album, both King's originals and the covers, are very much in the style of early blues recordings: one voice, one guitar...even the scratchy static of the old 78s is duplicated. I confess my partiality to early delta guitarslingers, and I really like King's take, from his straight up cover of Willie Johnson's "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" to the archetypally bluesy original "Flooded in the Delta". This is great stuff, and the hilariously deadpan liner notes (spoofing every "how I discovered the blues" story you ever read) are a perfect complement -- I admit, they had me going for a minute. The tracks then evolve through the rollicking piano blues of "John Law Burned Down the Liquor Sto'" to electric guitar to rhythm 'n' blues, including a purported cover by the Voodoo Dolls (King)...
When organic American music was given a shot in the arm by the Coen Brother's movie O Brother, Where Art Thou, Chris Thomas King was among the artists who benefited with King's role as blues musician Tommy Johnson and his song O Brother Where Art Thou. King took full advantage of this opportunity and produced an ambitious concept album The Legend of Tommy Johnson. Imagine an obscure blues artist who sold is soul to the devil down on some Delta crossroads for the ability to play music. He wanders around the delta singing on the corners of "Magnolia and Main" as the cover says. Maybe he serves a stint in prison and becomes part of a chain gang and then upon release wanders to Chicago to try his hand with electric guitar. This is the story of a composite of blues artists throughout the twentieth century and Chris Thomas King has penned, sang, played and produced all the songs on this CD. It is a skillful and artistic cd which demonstrates King's love and appreciation for the...
I am familiar with King's work only from the movie O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU. He has wisely jumped onto that musical bandwagon by recreating his character from the movie, Tommy Johnson, and doing a solo CD as Mr. Johnson, blending history (the real Tommy Johnson) with fiction (O BROTHER. . .). Great idea, very good results. I am not a true blues afficianado, but I loved the song he did in the movie and figured I'd give this disc a run. The opening song, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," is a very cool song that moves along at a nice pace--some nice a capellla and good guitar work, also. "Canned Heat Blues" calls to mind his song from the movie. "John Law Burned Down the Liquor Sto'" is a fast-moving, bluegrass-ish song that is a riot--the tites are so good sometimes! "Red Shoes" is a more electric kind of sound--good song. "Bonnie & Clyde in D Minor" is good, old-fashioned, slowed-down traditional delta blues--great song. The album...
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