Alan Lomax: Blues Songbook

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
From 1933-1985, Alan Lomax along with his father, John A. Lomax gathered field-recorded examples of African-American song forms, most of which ended up in the expansive Library of Congress American folk music collection. This two-disc collection selects some of the best of these into a single package and the result is a wonderful and indispensable journey through the blues, beginning with the sparkling opening track, "Going Down the River," a variant of a Sleepy John Estes song done by slide guitarist Mississippi Fred McDowell, with Fannie Davis on comb kazoo and Miles Pratcher on second guitar. There are several amazingly intimate performances here, including Skip James ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
From 1933-1985, Alan Lomax along with his father, John A. Lomax gathered field-recorded examples of African-American song forms, most of which ended up in the expansive Library of Congress American folk music collection. This two-disc collection selects some of the best of these into a single package and the result is a wonderful and indispensable journey through the blues, beginning with the sparkling opening track, "Going Down the River," a variant of a Sleepy John Estes song done by slide guitarist Mississippi Fred McDowell, with Fannie Davis on comb kazoo and Miles Pratcher on second guitar. There are several amazingly intimate performances here, including Skip James singing "Cherry Ball Blues" at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival just days after his re-discovery, and his high, eerie voice and delicate guitar playing combine to create a stunning moment in which a legend is literally reborn out of the haze of 1930s blues 78s. That feat is nearly duplicated by Dock Boggs, whose ragged voice and banjo on "Country Blues," a variant of the banjo tune "Darling Corey," brings another lost bluesman back from the land of old 78s. There are also three very different versions of "Joe Turner" here and they afford a valuable lesson in the mutability of folk material. Joe Turner was really Joe Turney, who, in the early 1890s, was the so-called "long chain man" in Mississippi, the transfer man whose job it was to march groups of prisoners from court to the penal institutions and work camps where the convict lease system operated. Needless to say, he was much feared and hated. The first version here features Ed Young on cane fife and Hobart Smith on banjo, while the second has Miles Pratcher on guitar and Bob Pratcher on fiddle, and features the lines "I laid down happy/And I woke up crying." By the time Big Bill Broonzy's version was recorded in the early '60s, Joe Turner had become a savior who sets prisoners free, an interpretation of events hardly supported by the facts, and a fascinating study in the reversal of fortune of a blues lyric.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/30/2003
  • Label: Rounder Select
  • UPC: 682161186627
  • Catalog Number: 1866

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Going Down to the River (4:14)
  2. 2 Rolled and Tumbled - Rose Hemphill (2:53)
  3. 3 Cherry Ball Blues - Bud Spires (4:05)
  4. 4 Dust My Broom - Howlin' Wolf (3:10)
  5. 5 Boogie Children - Darnel Walker (2:44)
  6. 6 Stagolee (1:38)
  7. 7 Stop All the Buses - Cecil Augusta (2:54)
  8. 8 Worried Life Blues - David Honeyboy Edwards (3:00)
  9. 9 The Pony Blues (4:09)
  10. 10 Tangle Eye Blues - David Honeyboy Edwards (3:06)
  11. 11 Trouble So Hard - Vera Ward Hall & Dock Reed (2:19)
  12. 12 Worried Blues (2:30)
  13. 13 Beggin' the Blues (2:13)
  14. 14 John Henry (2:23)
  15. 15 Country Blues (3:47)
  16. 16 Cherry Ball Blues (3:51)
  17. 17 I Hate a Man Like You (3:46)
  18. 18 Roll 'Em Pete - Pete Johnson (4:04)
  19. 19 Kokomo (2:55)
  20. 20 Life Is Like That - Sonny Boy Williamson [II] (3:06)
Disc 2
  1. 1 I Could Hear My Name A-Ringin' - Sonny Boy Williamson [II] (3:45)
  2. 2 Dimples in Your Jaws - Darnel Walker (3:16)
  3. 3 Catfish Blues - Bud Spires (5:30)
  4. 4 Kill-It-Kid Bag (2:49)
  5. 5 You're Gonna Need My Help - Elinor Boyer (2:05)
  6. 6 The Army Blues - David Honeyboy Edwards (4:02)
  7. 7 Blues de la Prison - Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin (2:18)
  8. 8 I Been Drinking - Vera Hall-Ward (1:10)
  9. 9 I Been a Bad, Bad Girl (Prisoner Blues) - Ozella Jones (2:18)
  10. 10 I Be's Troubled (3:15)
  11. 11 Boogie Instrumental (4:21)
  12. 12 Blind Lemon Blues (4:04)
  13. 13 Sweet Patootie Blues (4:41)
  14. 14 The Last Time (3:16)
  15. 15 Shorty George (3:15)
  16. 16 Desert Blues - Cowboy Jack Ramsey (2:21)
  17. 17 Joe Turner - Ed Young & Hobart Smith (3:14)
  18. 18 Joe Turner (4:30)
  19. 19 Joe Turner - Big Bill Broonzy (6:54)
  20. 20 See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (3:20)
  21. 21 How Long Blues - Sonny Terry (5:34)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Alan Lomax Primary Artist
Big Bill Broonzy Guitar, Vocals
Sam Chatmon Guitar, Vocals, Spoken Word
Skip James Guitar, Vocals
Lead Belly Guitar, Vocals, 12-string Guitar
Blind Willie McTell Vocals, 12-string Guitar
Memphis Jug Band Jug
Memphis Slim Piano, Vocals
Eddie Shaw Tenor Saxophone
Hubert Sumlin Guitar
Albert Ammons Piano
Pete Johnson Piano
Jelly Roll Morton Piano, Vocals
Dock Boggs Banjo, Vocals
Mississippi Fred McDowell Guitar, Vocals
Canray Fontenot Fiddle, Vocals
Dock Reed Vocals
Bessie Jones Vocals
R.L. Burnside Guitar
Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin Accordion
Brownie McGhee Guitar, Vocals
Charlie Burse Guitar, Vocals, Group Member
Bonita Butter Harmonica, Vocals
Smith Casey Guitar, Vocals
Fannie Davis Comb
David Honeyboy Edwards Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Willie Ford Guitar
Son House Guitar, Vocals
Muddy Waters Guitar, Vocals
Miles Pratcher Guitar, Vocals
Will Shade Bass, Vocals, Washboard, Group Member
Sonny Terry Harmonica, Vocals
Sonny Boy Williamson I Harmonica, Vocals
Robert Carter Electric Guitar, Group Member
Jack Owens Guitar, Vocals
Joe Lee Guitar
Boy Blue Harmonica, Vocals
Gabriel Brown Guitar, Vocals
Dewey Corley Bass, Kazoo, Jug, Group Member
Rosa Lee Hill Guitar, Vocals
Vera Hall-Ward Vocals
Hobart Smith Guitar, Vocals
Bob Pratcher Fiddle
Lucious Curtis Guitar, Vocals
Calvin Jackson Drums
Tangle Eye Vocals
Cecil Augusta Guitar, Vocals
Elinor Boyer Vocals
Hattie Ellis Vocals
Ozella Jones Vocals
Benjamin Spires Harmonica, Vocals
Technical Credits
Leroy Carr Composer
Sleepy John Estes Composer
John Lee Hooker Composer
Skip James Composer
Lead Belly Composer
Memphis Slim Composer
Hammie Nixon Composer
Charley Patton Composer
Big Joe Turner Composer
Count Basie Composer
Pete Johnson Composer
Jelly Roll Morton Composer
Andy Gibson Composer
Dock Boggs Composer
Mississippi Fred McDowell Composer
John Bishop Engineer
Mary Lou Williams Composer
Alan Lomax Composer, Engineer
Peter Chatman Composer
David Honeyboy Edwards Composer
Wilbert Ellis Composer
Don Fleming Producer
Son House Composer
Elmore James Composer
Robert Johnson Composer
Huddie Ledbetter Composer
John A. Lomax Engineer
Muddy Waters Composer
Steve Rosenthal Mastering Producer
Phil Klum Mastering
Worth Long Engineer
Dr. David Evans Liner Notes
Howard Wuelfing Publicity
Mary Elizabeth Barnicle Engineer
John Cowley Liner Notes, Introduction
Zora Neale Hurston Engineer
Martin Scorsese Contributor
Hally Wood Composer
Anna L. Chairetakis Producer
Traditional Composer
Ruby T. Lomax Engineer
Matt Boynton Engineer
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