Always Lift Him Up: A Tribute to Blind Alfred Reed

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Barnes & Noble - David McGee
A lot of people were introduced to Blind Alfred Reed by way of Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions album, on which the Boss offered a slightly updated version of Reed's ever-timely lament, "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live"; this long overdue tribute underscores how seriously Reed approached the song as a meaningful vessel for appraising his times and contemporary mores. Although hardly a household name, even among roots music enthusiasts, Reed's music has endured, because his themes -- tough times, abiding faith and the battle of the sexes -- endure. A multi-generational mix of West Virginia-rooted artists is represented here, from reliable old-timers such ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
A lot of people were introduced to Blind Alfred Reed by way of Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions album, on which the Boss offered a slightly updated version of Reed's ever-timely lament, "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live"; this long overdue tribute underscores how seriously Reed approached the song as a meaningful vessel for appraising his times and contemporary mores. Although hardly a household name, even among roots music enthusiasts, Reed's music has endured, because his themes -- tough times, abiding faith and the battle of the sexes -- endure. A multi-generational mix of West Virginia-rooted artists is represented here, from reliable old-timers such as Little Jimmie Dickens to seasoned veterans such as Ray Benson to younger whippersnappers on the order of Todd Burge. Both Dickens and the actress/writer/musician Ann Magnuson offer witty, feel-good versions of, respectively, "Woman's Been After Man Ever Since" and "Why Do You Bob Your Hair Girls," two songs in which Reed fretted over the distaff side's growing independence and floozy behavior (such as bobbing the hair to appear more masculine), whereas Kathy Mattea offers a sprightly defense of womankind in "We've Got To Have 'em That's All," an epistle energized by producer Tim O'Brien's happy-go-lucky mandolin soloing. Larry Groce, in an electrified, dirge-like "You Must Unload," rumbles about the wages of sin, and husky-voiced Connie Smith, with husband Marty Stuart on mandolin, wrings poignant melodrama from the death-and-drink ballad, "The Prayer Of the Drunkard's Little Girl." Nat Reese offers a whiskey-voiced, deep acoustic blues in "Black and Blue Blues," and O'Brien reconfigures "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live" into a plugged-in, shambling country workout complete with stuttering steel guitar commentary courtesy Russ Hicks. Good work, and true, by all concerned.
All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
Discovered by Ralph Peer on the fabled 1927 Bristol field recording trip that also yielded the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, West Virginian singer, songwriter, and fiddler Blind Alfred Reed was as singular as they come. Already in his 40s when Peer discovered him, Reed was a man out of time in many ways. For one, he wrote his own material, which wasn't as common then as it is now, and his songs, which generally dealt with relations between men and women, the voracious greed of the American businessman, and an abiding concern with redemption and salvation, were like nothing else from his era. This interesting tribute to Reed and his songs was released in conjunction with his induction into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and includes Mollie O'Brien's boisterous street band version of "Beware," the maudlin and boozy "The Prayer of the Drunkard's Little Girl" by Connie Smith, the sturdy narrative of "Explosion in the Fairmount Mine" by John Lilly, and Tim O'Brien's rendition of "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live," Reed's best and most famous song which was originally recorded in 1929 with Reed on fiddle and vocals and his son Arville Reed on guitar. In many ways, Reed was an anachronism. Had he been around during the folk revival of the late '50s and early '60s, his unorthodox and quite striking writing and playing style would have made him a huge star. In the '20s, though, he sounded like a lone voice crying in the wilderness.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/13/2007
  • Label: Proper American
  • UPC: 852007001135
  • Catalog Number: 6

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Woman's Been After Man Ever Since - Little Jimmy Dickens (2:40)
  2. 2 Beware - Mollie O'Brien (2:29)
  3. 3 The Telephone Girl - Todd Burge (3:51)
  4. 4 Why Do You Bob Your Hair Girls - Ann Magnuson (3:49)
  5. 5 Walking in the Way With Jesus - The Nichols Family (2:51)
  6. 6 We've Got to Have 'Em That's All - Kathy Mattea (3:32)
  7. 7 You Must Unload - Larry Grace (5:24)
  8. 8 The Prayer of the Drunkards Little Girl - Connie Smith (4:04)
  9. 9 Black and Blue Eyes - Nat Reese (4:37)
  10. 10 Money Cravin' Folks - The Carpenter Ants (3:12)
  11. 11 You'll Miss Me - Tim O'Brien (3:29)
  12. 12 Always Lift Him up and Never Knock Him Down - Dwight Miller (2:47)
  13. 13 There'll Be No Distinction There - Bare Bones (2:37)
  14. 14 Explosion in the Fairmount Mine - John Lilly (3:39)
  15. 15 Fate of Chris Lively and Wife - Charlie McCoy (3:03)
  16. 16 Walking in the Way With Jesus - Johnny Staats (3:21)
  17. 17 Black and Blue Eyes - Ray Benson & A Sleep At the Wheel (2:55)
  18. 18 I Mean to Live For Jesus - Everett Lilly & the Songcatchers (5:25)
  19. 19 How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live - Tim O'Brien (3:50)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Jerry Douglas Dobro
Marty Stuart Mandolin
Little Jimmy Dickens Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Kathy Mattea Vocals
Connie Smith Vocals
Don Dixon Background Vocals, Pump Organ
Larry Groce Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Danny Barnes Tuba
Ray Benson Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Bill Cooley Acoustic Guitar
Chris Engleman Bass
Nick Forster Bouzouki
Nick Foster Banjo, Lap Steel Guitar
Laney Hicks Background Vocals
Russ Hicks Dobro, Steel Guitar
Steve Ivey Drums
Everett Lilly Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Michael Lipton Guitar, Electric Guitar
Wayne Moss Acoustic Guitar, Bass
Mollie O'Brien Vocals
Tim O'Brien Acoustic Guitar, Bouzouki, Fiddle, Mandolin, Vocals, Background Vocals
Hargus "Pig" Robbins Piano
Jason Roberts Fiddle
Kenny Vaughan Electric Guitar
Ammed Solomon Drums
Robert Shafer Acoustic Guitar
David Earl Miller Bass
John A. Morris Acoustic Guitar, Fiddle
John L. Moss Drums
Johnny Staats Bass, Bouzouki, Mandolin, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Todd Burge Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
John Lilly Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Eddie Rivers Weissenborn
Donnie Herron Fiddle
Teddy Kalanda Harrison Bass
Bill Clark Tuba
Nat Reese Guitar, Vocals
Dwight Diller Banjo, Vocals
Technical Credits
Blind Alfred Reed Arranger, Composer
Don Dixon Producer, Engineer, Audio Production
Steve Smith Engineer
Ray Benson Producer
Roddy Bottum Engineer
Kevin Clock Engineer
Michael Lipton Producer, Audio Production
Tim O'Brien Producer, Liner Notes, Audio Production
Robert Shafer Engineer
Arville Reed Composer
John L. Moss Engineer
Tristram Lozaw Mastering
Jesse O'Brien Engineer
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