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). ... more »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« less
"The DVD is poorly edited and insulting to anyone keenlyinterested in trad. blues/Robert Johnson/ and modern bluesinterpretors. The viewer is presented with only tiny segments of actual performers playing. 5 minutes listening to some psuedo intellectual bilge followed by 2 minutes of part of a song. Keb Mo and G. Love get their performances butchered into 40 second-two minute clips. This DVD is like AM radio-you never get a full song from anybody. Forget this and get "Can't You Hear the Wind Howl"."
Todd Spinney | Leominster, MA USA | 10/04/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"If you have any respect for the blues legend, don't buy this, don't even rent it. The very few decent tribute performances do not make up for the lack of content in this DVD. Pointless interviews and speeches make for annoying filler, when all we really want is the music. Especially disappointing is the performance by Weir/Wasserman. They rattle off a an aimless and depthless "Walkin' Blues" You can't help but feel that Wasserman would rather be somewhere else. Most irritating is the claim that this so-called conference "found" a "very rare" film clip of the man himself. It is presented to a lecture-hall audience, to which Robert Johnson's son was a part. When asked by the speaker if the man playing guitar was indeed Robert Johnson, he said clearly:"No." "Ummm...are you sure?" "YES!" "Oh...well, so it may not be him, but is certainly LOOKS like him..." Why was this even included here? If it's NOT footage of Robert Johnson, then why didn't it wind up on the cutting room floor? Bleah."
ROBERT Mugge, ROBERT Johnson... coincidence?
J. Stolle | Clarksdale, MS United States | 05/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Finally, a real movie about Robert Johnson and the myths that surround him (instead of a fictional "Karate Kid At The Crossroads" or a self-serving John Hammond bio.) In one movie you get to: decide for yourself about the alleged RJ film snippet... hear Steve LaVere and other scholars be, well, scholarly... and best of all enjoy the music of Blues and rock greats like Robert Lockwood, Honeyboy Edwards, Keb Mo, Alvin YB Hart and Rory Block. If RJ the man or myth interests you at all, you should check this out. And while you're at it pick up a couple copies of the newly re-released "Deep Blues" also by Robert Mugge. (Trust me, it's been out of print for too long... Don't risk it again.) Enjoy!"
lorenzojim | Medford, Oregon United States | 02/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're looking to hear Robert Johnson's songs, you should probably buy one of the awesome collections availible. As this legend and musical genius has now been dead for 65 years, I'm not sure what the other reviewers were looking for besides other people covering his songs, and talk about his life... that's all we have now. And of course the covers do not outdo him; that would be impossible. But there is some very thoughtful discussion on the life of Robert Johnson and the world he lived in. The discussion with a former classmate is touching, and the covers of his songs by those who knew him (Robert Lockwood Jr., Honeyboy Edwards)and by some of the new delta-blues talent such as Guy Davis, Roy Rogers and especially Alvin Youngblood Heart blew me away. Gov't Mule and Sonny Landreth do some awesome electric renditions of his work. The major let downs are the cuts into interviews and pointless displays of the rock n' roll hall of fame gathering, and also Bob Weir's performance, which is just plain bad. All in all, it is a good film, and it's nice to actually be able to watch people play his music, as we will never be able to see the real thing."
Neither Fish nor Fowl
mac convert | Akron, OH USA | 03/13/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you are looking for a purely performance-oriented DVD, you will probably be disappointed by this disk. Having said this, however, there are some truly outstanding renditions of RJ classics on the disk that make it worth having. Among my favorites are an absolutely incendiary version of "Walkin' Blues" by the under-appreciated slide-master Sonny Landreth (this alone is worth the price of the disk, IMHO), an excellent interpretation of "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day" by Rory Block and an unfortunately edited/intercut performance of "Love In Vain" by Keb' Mo'. There are also appearances by bigger name acts such as Warren Haynes & Gov't. Mule, Bob Weir and Peter Green/Nigel Watson (a very authentic, heartfelt performance of "Terraplane Blues", in keeping with PG's excellent recordings on "Hot Foot Powder" and the "Robert Johnson Songbook"). If you are really a fan of Robert Johnson, though, the real strength of this disk is the performances by RJ contemporaries such as Robert Lockwood Jr. and Honeyboy Edwards, which provide a real window on the past. While I have issues with the editing of the disk, especially the intercutting of performances with talking heads, on balance this is worthwhile addition for anyone who loves the music of Robert Johnson."