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Delta bluesman Robert Johnson died in obscurity more than 60 years ago, leaving behind a grand total of 29 recorded songs. There are more videos about him (three and counting) than there are known pictures of him (two). Yet with each passing year, Johnson's legend and legacy continue to grow and flourish. Witness this package, directed by Robert Mugge and chronicling the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's annual American Music Makers series, a weeklong program that in 1998 was devoted to Johnson's work. Part concert, part documentary (including interviews and speeches, discussions of various Johnson-related myths, explanations of his guitar technique, and so on), Hellhounds on My Trail features very few "name" artists, with ex-Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green, Keb' Mo', and G. Love and Special Sauce among the best known. Instead, you get authentic performances of Johnson songs by bluesmen like Alvin Youngblood Hart, Guy Davis, Joe Louis Walker, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, and Robert Lockwood Jr. (Johnson's stepson), along with rocking interpretations by Gov't Mule, the brilliant Sonny Landreth (a smokin' "Walking Blues"), and others. All in all, it's a feast for blues fans, and a nice accompaniment to Can't You Hear the Wind Howl, a 1998 docudrama featuring some of the same participants. --Sam Graham
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