Robert Nighthawk, Prowling With The Nighthawk

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A rambling bluesman finally gets his due.

This one is different from most of the rest of the Document catalogue. Instead of collecting Nighthawk's entire output in chronological order, it amounts to a “greatest hits” package covering 15 years and several labels; it features plaintive acoustic work (accompanied only by harmonica) like the title song, his first record, as well as bristling electric band sides featuring the sweetest slide in blues, such as the definitive “Black Angel Blues,” better known today as “Sweet Little Angel.” Nighthawk has never gotten his due from anyone except other musicians because he was a rambling man who recorded irregularly. But devastating performances like “The Moon Is Rising” mark him clearly as one of the principal movers and shakers in the transition from acoustic/Delta to electric/Chicago. This stuff is absolutely essential.