Blind Blake – All the Published Sides 1926-1932
If the success of a musician can be assessed via the influence they have on ensuing generations, then Blind Blake must surely be considered a towering figure in the history of country blues.
He’s been credited as an influence by no less a player than Rev. Gary Davis, himself surely one of the greatest guitarists this country has every produced. Also citing him as an influence are Ry Cooder, Leon Redbone, Bob Dylan, John Fahey, and more.
Like far too many black musicians of his era, he died young, from an illness that should have been easily preventable and/or treatable. Despite having bequeathed some 100 outstanding musical recordings to the world—recordings that would inspire generations of virtuoso players to come—he died young, poor, and under-appreciated.
Far too many sins remains as stains upon our national conscience, for having treated so many so poorly.
Blind Blake was at best a conventional vocalist, and his solo performances are notable largely for his guitar playing. But, oh, such guitar playing! West Coast Blues is literally a textbook on ragtime blues, and honestly the only one you need to listen to, should you wish to want to try to master the sound.
His work as an accompanist is understandably uneven, by definition being dependent on whoever he was playing with. But when the combinations are great, they’re truly great. A personal favorite is Grievin’ Hearted Blues, on which Blake backs the great Ma Rainey.
Blind Blake’s recording life lasted all of 6 years, but in those 6 years, he changed the future of music, and the lives of countless musicians as well.