Robert Lockwood, Jr., learned his blues firsthand from an unimpeachable source: the immortal Robert Johnson. Lockwood was capable of conjuring up the bone-chilling Johnson sound whenever he desired, but he was never one to linger in the past for long – which accounts for the jazzy swing he often brought to the licks he played on his 12-string electric guitar. Born in 1915, Lockwood was one of the last living links to the glorious Johnson legacy. When Lockwood's mother became romantically involved with the charismatic rambler in Helena, AR, the quiet teenager suddenly gained a role model and a close friend so close that Lockwood considered himself Johnson's Stepson.
This brings together all the Lockwood-fronted tracks from his two Rounder albums with Johnny Shines. Lockwood shines on a brace of originals that range from jazzy to bluesy to proto-funk ("Here It Is, Brother") as well as tackling everything from Larry Darnell's swinging "For You My Love" to Leroy Carr's "Mean Mistreater." Featuring Lockwood in duo settings with Shines and with a full band of Cleveland regulars, this is a nice sampling of one of the blues' most exploratory musicians.–Cub Koda,All Music Guide
These 14 tracks, cut in 1996 when Lockwood was 81 years old, are among the most accessible music that he has ever laid down. Had this record – with its mix of spare, raw solos and duets juxtaposed with full band pieces that thunder quietly or roar loud and clear – come out in the late '60s, it might have been as big and important a record as anything cut by Muddy Waters (maybe more, since Waters didn't get to make albums as strong and straightforward as this until the 1970s)……
The Blues Masters series, much to Rhino`s credit, adopts an expansive definition of blues, allowing the likes of Count Basie, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Muddy Waters and even Louis Prima admission. There is none of the purist`s quibbling over strict 12-bar form or the relative significance of prewar and postwar styles.
What Rhino delivers instead is the blues in all its myriad guises. This music is old and new, black and white, acoustic and electric, folksy and jazzy, performed by women and men, and yet it is all still blues at its core.