Various Artists

Music to Die For: Death Discs 1914-1960

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

So called “death discs,” commercial recordings dealing with fatal car and train wrecks, shootings, hangings, doomed and drowning lovers, and myriad other tragedies, have been around since the advent of recording (and long before that -- there are countless ancient ghost-filled old ballads floating around in the Appalachians and elsewhere), and whether they’re maudlin, nostalgic, macabre, tragic, romantic (think Romeo and Juliet), or just plain silly, they serve as cautionary tales of a sort, and we remain fascinated by them. This two-disc set collects 52 of these death discs, going as far back as 1914 and running through 1960, and it’s a surprisingly varied playlist, given the gloomy nature of the subject matter, with classic sides from Vernon Dalhart (“Wreck of the Old ‘97” from 1924), Louis Armstrong (a majestic “St. James Infirmary” from 1928), Lena Horne (“Frankie and Johnny” from 1946), Red Foley (“Old Shep” -- yep, all good dogs go to Heaven -- from 1949), Donald Woods & the Vel-Aires (“Death of an Angel” from 1955), the Four Freshmen (“Their Hearts Were Full of Spring,” also from 1955), Gene Vincent (“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” from 1960), and many others. No, it’s not a particularly cheerful set, but in a way it is -- one can’t help but think “well, I’m still here” while listening to it, and it’s all pretty fascinating in a graveyard humor kind of way.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Spotify
2 Spotify
3 Spotify
4 Spotify
5 Spotify
6 Spotify
7 Spotify
8 Spotify
9
Spotify
10 Spotify
11 Spotify
12 Spotify
13 Spotify
14 Spotify
15 Spotify
16 Spotify
17 Spotify
18 Spotify
19 Spotify
20 Spotify
21 Spotify
22 Spotify
23
Spotify
24 Spotify
25 Spotify

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:49 Spotify
2 2:33 Spotify
3 1:57 Spotify
4 2:31 Spotify
5 2:32 Spotify
6
2:39 Spotify
7 2:42 Spotify
8 3:04 Spotify
9 2:23 Spotify
10 4:55 Spotify
11 2:24 Spotify
12 2:59 Spotify
13 2:27 Spotify
14 2:59 Spotify
15 2:24 Spotify
16 2:52 Spotify
17
3:14 Spotify
18 2:15 Spotify
19 2:40 Spotify
20
5:01 Spotify
21 3:21 Spotify
22
2:36 Spotify
23 2:55 Spotify
24 2:44 Spotify
25 2:31 Spotify
26 2:53 Spotify
27 1:38 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick