Trouble In Mind: The Doc Watson Country Blues Collection, 1964-1998

Doc Watson

Sugar Hill Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


One of the best parts of this job is the privilege of discovering new joys, whether they be new or old artists. I had heard of blues and folk legend Doc Watson before I received this CD, but I'd never actually heard his music until now. All I can say is that I was missing something very special. Doc Watson is a genuine icon, and worth every inch of the legend.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Primarily known for his folk and flatpicking work, Watson is one of the three pre-eminent legends of that guitar style (the other two, for the curious, are Merle Travis and Chet Atkins, so Watson's in some heady company). Trouble In Mind is a compilation of Watson's work in the blues, and it's something special to hear. The line between blues, country, folk, and other roots music can be pretty thin, and Watson straddles it with ease. And…. damn, but the man can pick a guitar and a banjo. At several points on this recording, I just sat there with my jaw hanging open in sheer shock. Watson often sounds like two or three players at once; his touch on the strings is sheer gold.

Vocally, Doc Watson is accessible and straightforward; while his voice lacks the blues overtones of artists like Mississippi John Hurt, it's also more pleasant than, say, bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley. (I still can't really enjoy Stanley's work, despite his groundbreaking efforts, because of his tone.) On songs like "Gambler's Yodel," "Deep River Blues," and "Stackolee," he manages to put his own distinctive stamp on the song without ever intruding on the sheer majesty of his ability to pick and play.

Doc Watson is an American legend, and Trouble In Mind is a great piece of music, an elegant and simple collection of blues music that's some of the best you'll ever hear. Pick it up today.

Rating: A

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© 2003 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sugar Hill Records, and is used for informational purposes only.