Vinyl Stock Number: Fat Possum Records 80317-1
While fans of the seventy-five year-old Delta blues guitarist and songwriter may not be all that surprised, it's more than likely that R.L. Burnside is still shaking his head at his recent success and appearance on music store shelves all over the globe. Burnside's Well Well Well has earned a great deal of well deserved praise from critics and new listeners alike, but it was this earlier release that first attracted me to his raw and raucous Delta blues style and it still remains as one of my favorite blues albums of the '90s. For a man well in his seventies, Burnside's voice is still remarkably strong and deep. While some fans have criticized Come On In for its use of sampling and looping techniques, which i must admit does mask some of Burnside's fantastic finger work, the album still possesses a number of brilliant moments that make the recording a mandatory part of any Burnside collection. It some ways, Come On In sounds as if Beck dabbled in the production and while not always successful, it is at least an interesting attempt at being innovative. If only Robert Cray could be persuaded to try something like this.
The best track without question is Burnside's live version of the title track "Come On In," a gutsy and raw song that captures Burnside's voice at its best and classic Delta blues guitar playing. Burnside can still inject a lot of energy into a song and he has the ability to be most captivating. What makes the particular track stand out is the clean and closely mic'ed recording. Guitar notes are both rich and razor sharp. This song demands to be played loudly and over and over again. My record so far is five times in one evening.
While not a hugely successful commercial success for Burnside, Come On In is still a rich and enveloping performance that persuaded this blues fan to search out the rest of Burnside's discography. R.L. Burnside may never achieve the commercial success of Robert Cray or Eric Clapton, but he is a welcome alternative to their emasculated blues and a fabulous reminder as to why many blues fans still long for the music of the ultimate Delta bluesman, Robert Johnson.