Various Artists

Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 2

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Originally released in 1952 as a quasi-legal set of three double-LPs and reissued several times since (with varying cover art), The Anthology of American Folk Music could well be the most influential document of the '50s folk revival. Many of the recordings which appeared on it had languished in obscurity for 20 years, and it proved a revelation to a new group of folkies -- from Pete Seeger to John Fahey to Bob Dylan -- who covered the songs, tracked down the artists, and made new field recordings to document other strands of folk music. The man that made the Anthology possible was editor and compiler Harry Smith, a man born in Washington but a drifter much of his life, as well as a painter, filmmaker and anthropologist. From his collection of thousands of old 78-rpm records, Smith compiled 84 of his favorite hillbilly, gospel, blues and Cajun performances from the late '20s and early '30s (all originally issued by labels such as Columbia and Victor), and divided each into one of three categories: Ballads, Social Music and Songs. Smith sequenced the three volumes with a great amount of care, and Vol. 2 is the Social Music installment in the series. [After being out of print for years, The Anthology of American Folk Music, Vol. 2 was reissued as part of a six-disc box set, containing all three volumes of the Anthology, by Smithsonian-Folkways as a six-disc box set in 1998.]

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