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Music of Coal: Mining Songs from the Appalachian Coalfields

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Appalachian Essential

    I have to say this is one of the best compilations of music about a subject ever. I probably should have bought two of these because I may wear the first one out.

    The compilers have done a masterful job of assembling vintage performances with modern ones. I applaud them for rescuing some of these old songs. The modern performances are fresh and strong.

    More amazingly, perhaps, are the range of emotions covered here. I think most would expect a compilation of coal songs to be dreary, sad and angry. These emotions are present but so many more aspects are covered as well: love for family, for the lure of the mines, and for a way of life. Ron Short tells of the Battle of Blair Mountain, a little known episode in American history.

    Some of the performers are professionals, well known in the music field; others are just starting out. I defy anyone to listen to Molly Slemp's rendetion of West Virginia Mining Disaster and not be moved. This young lady is an incredible talent and should have her own CD. Jean Ritchie, Dale Jett, Ralph Stanley, Dock Boggs, the Carter Family, Ron Short, Blue Highway, Tom T. Hall and many more lend their talents to songs from the classic (Dark As A Dungeon, Sixteen Tons, Prayer of a Miner's Child, Which Side Are You On) to the new (Coal Dust Kisses, You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive, In Those Mines).

    If you have any interest in Appalachian music or folk music in general, you should buy this. It doesn't get any better than this cd.

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