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.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett