Mar 082016
 

god dontAugust Wilson’s play Seven Guitars depicts the tragic death of a black blues musician unable to take advantage of his stardom because he can’t get his guitar out of the pawnshop so that he might return to Chicago and record another hit single on a better contract. The play is set in 1948, a year after real-life inspiration Blind Willie Johnson, the gravely voiced musician eulogized in the new tribute album God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson, succumbed to pneumonia while living in the ashes of a house that had burned down a week earlier. Despite having recorded thirty songs, Johnson died broke, famously using wet newspaper as blankets during his final days.

There are a million ways to evaluate God Don’t Never Change; most of them, I think, will settle on the fact that it will likely go down as one of the best American roots albums of 2016. I think so too. However, the lengthy discussion that follows will not just be about the incredible music of Blind Willie Johnson or even the deserving covers featured on this album. In what is perhaps a risky move in the world of music criticism, I want to frame my discussion of this album around issues of race and culture because we are a site dedicated to covers: the origins of the blues raise questions germane to any discussion of what it means to cover songs belonging to a genre that originally existed to give voice to the experiences and suffering of a specific group of people.
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Sep 202013
 

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

The early- to mid-’70s marked the pinnacle of Stevie Wonder’s career, both in terms of chart success and recorded output. Between 1972 and 1976 he released one Top-5 and three Number 1 albums, including his 1976 magnum double-opus Songs in the Key of Life, recorded when Wonder was only 26 years old. Innervisions, released in 1973, is arguably the cream of this crop.
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