"You want to know how good the blues can get?" Keith Richards asked. "Well, this is it." The bluesman in question was Robert Johnson, who lived from 1911 to 1938 in the Mississippi Delta, and whose guitar prowess was so great, it inspired stories that, in exchange for his amazing gift, he had sold his soul to the devil. Johnson recorded only twenty-nine songs, but their evanescent passion has resonated through the decades. This initial LP reissue of Johnson's original 78s was a fountainhead for 1960s rockers such as Richards and Eric Clapton, who plundered it for covers. A better starting point today might be the recently released sixteen-track compilation King of the Delta Blues.