Mississippi Boweavil Boll Weevil Blues. Got the farm land blues. Sail away lady. The wild wagoner. Wake up Jacob. La danseuse The dancer. Georgia stomp. Brilliancy medley. Indian war whoop. Old country stomp. Old dog blue. Saut Crapaud Jump, Frog.
Acadian One-Step. Home Sweet Home. The Newport Blues. Moonshiner's Dance Part One. Must Be Born Again. Rocky Road. Present Joys. This Song of Love. John the Baptist. Dry Bones. John the Revelator. Little Moses. Shine on Me. Fifty Miles of Elbow Room. I'm In the Battlefield for My Lord. The Coo Coo Bird. East Virginia. Each song tells a story about a specific event or time, and Smith may have made some effort to organize to suggest a historical narrative, a theory suggested by the fact that many of the first songs in this volume are old English folk ballads, while the closing songs of the volume deal with the hardships of being a farmer in the s.
The first album in the "social music" volume largely consists of music likely performed at social gatherings or dances.
Many of the songs are instrumentals. The second album in the "Social Music" volume consists of religious and spiritual songs. The third "Songs" volume consists of regular songs, dealing with everyday life: critic Greil Marcus describes its thematic interests as being "marriage, labor, dissipation, prison, and death.
Smith's booklet in the original release makes reference to three additional planned volumes in the series, which would anthologize music up until Smith also edited and directed the design of the Anthology. He created the liner notes himself, and these notes are almost as famous as the music, using an unusual fragmented, collage method that presaged some postmodern artwork.
This etching was printed over against a different color background for each volume of the set: blue, red and green. Smith had incorporated both the music and the art into his own unusual cosmology , and each of these colors was considered by Smith to correspond to an alchemical classical element : Water, Fire, and Air, respectively.
The fourth 'Labour' volume released later by Revenant is colored yellow to represent the element earth. In the s, Irwin Silber replaced Smith's covers with a Ben Shahn photograph of a poor Depression-era farmer, over Smith's objections, although others have considered this a wise commercial choice in the politically charged atmosphere of the folk movement during that decade.
In , Smithsonian Folkways Recordings , having acquired Folkways Records in , reissued the collection on six compact discs, each disc corresponding to each album of the original set on vinyl, including replicas of Smith's original artwork and liner booklet. The back cover to this booklet closes with a quote by Smith: "I'm glad to say that my dreams came true.
I saw America changed through music. Writing for Allmusic , critic John Bush wrote the compilation "could well be the most influential document of the '50s folk revival. Many of the recordings that appeared on it had languished in obscurity for 20 years, and it proved a revelation to a new group of folkies, from Pete Seeger to John Fahey to Bob Dylan Many of the most interesting selections on the Anthology, however, are taken from [obscure] artists In its time, it wrested the idea of the folk from ideologues and ethnomusicologists by imagining a commercial music of everyday pleasure and alienation--which might as well have been conceived to merge with a rock and roll that didn't yet exist Somebody you know is worth the 60 bucks it'll run you.
So are you. The Anthology has had enormous historical influence. Smith's method of sequencing tracks, along with his inventive liner notes , called attention to the set. This reintroduction of near-forgotten popular styles of rural American music from the selected years to new listeners had impact on American ethnomusicology , and was both directly and indirectly responsible for the aforementioned folk music revival.
The music on the compilation provided direct inspiration to much of the emergent folk music revival movement. The Anthology made widely available music which previously had been largely the preserve of marginal social economic groups. I finally decided to use a gift card from my son and daughter-in-law to add this to our digital music collection. I haven't listened to all the tracks yet as I first digitized the music and added tag information to the files.
I must say this is a very unusual collection, not what you would typically find in commercial offerings. I haven't listened enough yet to comment on the organization or classification of the songs on the albums, but all the discs did digitize successfully. These are not songs that will stick in your memory and have you repeating them over and over in your mind, but if you truly appreciate the art, this is a good collection The only thing so far that I have noticed is that a few of the tracks definitely should have been 'cleaned' much better maybe they weren't at all?
I'll have to do this myself before I finally commit them to our music server. The printed documentation that is included seems to be very nicely done and will, I'm pretty sure, make for good background on the recordings.
This is definitely music that will have you tapping your foot or nodding your head in time. It's a great preservation of lots of tracks by artists you would not otherwise hear at all because they weren't so famous or popular. I must say that most of the songs I have never heard before.
Hearing them now is a treat. Since there were no 'preview' samples on the Amazon listing, there was no way to sample anything without actually purchasing.
I have been criticized for my reviews because they are sometimes more focused on technical things than the pure musical value, but if you are spending your money on technology, you should know how well it is presented.
I purchased this after hearing it mentioned by a professional musician in an interview. I heard the words "folk music" and immediately th ought of Pete Seeger, Hank Williams, et al. Oh no; this is more a historical representation of very early Appalachian porch music.
There is very little melody; words don't rhyme; there is no immediate sense of musicianship or skill. I took all three discs with me on a long drive, thinking that it would help pass the hours.
I honestly couldn't find the skip button fast enough for over half of the selections. Many songs sounded like one single chord, strummed repeatedly while someone "sang" words, nearly incoherently.
The whole mess is just awful; painful to the ears. It's not even worth a second chance listen. If you are seriously considering buying this, borrow it instead. Find it in a library or at least a used bargain bin. Don't pay full price.
I gave it two stars only because the packaging is nice. Good luck. What a treasure! Dave mentioned it as the first organic source of old time music material from both the white and black musical traditions that was accessible to the infant folk revival movement in the early 50s.
I was instantly attracted by it and felt so lucky to find it on sale from Amazon. The nice thing about this 6-cd box set is not only the music itself, but also the two booklets included. The first looks like the anastatic reprint of the original booklet, while the second is a collection of recent and original contributions with some nice old photos of musicians.
The wealth of information contained in the older booklet is amazing. Its always best to start at the beginning. This set captures the beginning of electronically assisted recording in 84 tracks spanning a the wide range of American folk from Hawaiian guitar to Jug Bands and original blues. Some songs you will hate, some are curiosities to be understood or that lend context to the past, others are gems of the past that never loose their luster.
Their are cleaner versions of many of these tracks. If sound quality is your top concern then I recommend the American Epic Sessions set which has considerable overlap in content but applies more recent transfer techniques.
When listening to this set you here the songs in the same way as many others who were inspired or influenced by them did, hiss, pops and all.
Also, Harry Smith's curation of this set definitely adds significant value. In doing so, the anthology became the single most important source of material and inspiration for many young singers in the 's and 60's and the touchstone of the early's "folk revival. The package appeared on the small but important Folkways label, run by Moses Asch, who had recorded performers like Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and Pete Seeger, and thought of his label as a great aural museum.
Before issuing Harry Smith's Anthology, Folkways had released a series of compilations of various ethnic musics as well as early jazz music. But Smith's project was different. The anthology itself seemed to have a personality, much like that of its compiler: erudite, hermetic, witty in a deadpan way. The cover of each boxed volume was plain black cardboard, with the selections and performers listed plainly on a label affixed to the front.
Volume 1 contained ballads songs with a narrative content , Volume 2 was titled Social Music dance music and religious music and Volume 3 was a catchall called Songs, offering vocal selections with no real narrative aspect. The six-disk reissue wisely follows the exact format and sequence of the original. Each box contained a copy of a booklet written, designed and laid out by Smith himself, an idiosyncratic compendium of discographical information, bibliographical references and summaries of the songs, all set in various type fonts and illustrated with photographs, advertisements from old record catalogues and other ephemera.
The music itself on the anthology opens a door to a world that will be just as strange to most listeners of today as it was in , and perhaps more so.
The lyrics offer a panorama of murders, religious visions, hangings, agrarian complaints, heroic exploits, swindles, assassinations and endless traveling. The extraordinary range of vocal sounds in which these marvels are expressed is no less wondrous. The nasal timbre of the coal miner and banjoist Dock Boggs on his two recordings included here, or the rasping throat tones of the religious street singer Blind Willie Johnson, so different from each other, both still carry the power to shock 70 years after they were recorded.
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