Watson's arrival on the folk scene of the '60s was a major event in American music, due mostly to his appearance at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival and the release of this self-titled album the following year. Not only did it revolutionize folk guitar picking, but it set the standard for the rest of his career with its mix of old-timey numbers, blues, gospel, and adapted fiddle tunes. The album is incredibly varied, from the stark, banjo-driven "Country Blues" to the humorous "Intoxicated Rat," and many of these songs became Watson standards, especially his signature song "Black Mountain Rag." His incredible flat-picking skills may have been what initially wowed his audiences, but it was Watson's complete mastery of the folk idiom that assured his lasting popularity.
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AllMusic Review by Jim Smith