Anglo-American Ballads, Vol. 1 was the first of six albums of field recordings issued in 1942 by the Archive of Folk Song in the Library of Congress, and it has subsequently appeared in LP form before this CD. Edited by Alan Lomax, this first volume was recorded between 1936 and 1941. It presents folk songs that were often derived from ballads of Anglo origin, and were largely performed by Southern singers. Most of the selections are a cappella solo vocals, although sometimes there's guitar or banjo accompaniment. Several well-known folk standards are on board: "Barbara Allen," "Pretty Polly" (two versions), "The House Carpenter" and "The Gypsy Davy," the last of which is rendered by Woody Guthrie, the only famous performer on the set. Some other singers might be recognized by those with a deep folk schooling (Mrs. Texas Gladden, E.C. Ball), but by and large the artists will be unfamiliar to almost all listeners. This is important American source music, delivered with serious sincerity and piety. Just as notably, the performances are better and more enjoyable to listen to than on many such folkloric compilations, including some others that were assembled by Lomax and/or the Library of Congress.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger