Various Artists

Sounds of the South [4 CDs]

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The music on this anthology has been derived from several notable albums of field recordings by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax gathered in the South during the early 20th century. The primary components include the long-players Sounds of the South (1960), Blue Ridge Mountain Music (1960), Roots of the Blues (1960), Blues Roll On (1960), Negro Church Music (1960), White Spirituals (1960), and American Folk Songs for Children (1960). In Lomax's 1993 written introduction, he reveals that the four and a half hours housed in the package were "culled out of eight hours of field tapes" documented during a two-month tour in the summer of 1959 that began in Virginia and progressed into the Ozarks, the Mississippi Delta, and then the Georgia Sea Islands. While he goes on to explain the significance of his research, the authenticity of the living aural history really speaks for itself. Artists and songs of possible familiarity to enthusiasts of folk and blues are scattered throughout. Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning," "Shake 'Em on Down," and "Drop Down Mama," the Mountain Ramblers' "Cotton-Eyed Joe" and "Shady Grove," and Estil C. Ball & Orna Ball's "Jenny Jenkins" are taken from the Sounds of the South and Blue Ridge Mountain Music entries. The trio of Boy Blue (vocal/harmonica), Willie Jones (guitar), and Joe Lee (drums) provides a seminal reading of "Boogie Children," while Lonnie Young (vocal/bass drum), Ed Young (cane fife), and Lonnie Young, Jr. (snare drum) unleash a variation of "Sittin' on Top of the World" from Roots of the Blues and Blues Roll On. Negro Church Music and White Spirituals' sacred selections are highlighted by a "Sermon Fragment" from the Reverend G.I. Townsel as well as a "Sermon and Lining Hymn" featuring Reverend I.D. Back with his congregation and a stirring solo rendition of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" by the previously mentioned Estil C. Ball. Perhaps most fascinating are the American Folk Songs for Children, as they transcend race or religious creed. Almeda Riddle's "Froggie Went A-Courtin'," Bessie Jones' "Hambone," Hobart Smith's "The Arkansas Traveler," the Mountain Ramblers' "Liza Jane," Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Freight Train Blues," James Shorty/Viola James & Congregation's inspired "This Little Light of Mine," and a rare confab between Felix Dukes and Mississippi Fred McDowell on "Motherless Children" all surpassed their era.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:06
2 1:03
3 2:55
4 3:33
5 3:19
6 5:16
7 4:04
8 2:46
9 2:38
10 2:51
11 2:49
12 2:54
13 3:20
14 2:40
15 3:02
16 3:21
17 2:50
18 3:36
19
3:22
20 3:24
21 3:37
22 2:55

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:14
2
1:49
3
1:29
4
2:48
5 1:53
6 1:17
7 0:52
8
4:02
9 3:00
10 3:02
11
2:27
12 1:43
13
0:45
14
1:06
15 1:35
16
0:43
17 0:54
18 1:48
19
2:15
20 1:38
21 1:14
22
1:46
23
2:34
24 3:08
25 2:37
26 4:31
27 3:03
28 2:39
29
2:49
30
3:24
blue highlight denotes track pick