Various Artists

Arhoolie 40th Anniversary Collection 1960-2000: The Journey of Chris Strachwitz

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Combine a great ear for music with a firm commitment to recording only what you personally like and you've got the formula that has fueled Arhoolie Records for 40 years. Founder Chris Strachwitz -- a German immigrant and former schoolteacher -- may have seemed an unlikely candidate to become one of the great compilers of regional American popular music, but that's sure what he turned out to be. This five-disc, 95-artist label retrospective is truly monumental. On disc one, which begins before Arhoolie's launch and covers 1954-1965, blues dominate. By the the time you've worked your way through all six hours of this collection, though, you'll understand why Strachwitz could never make it as a DJ even on a blues radio station; not only does he eschew mainstream commercial music, he couldn't possibly live within any format. Just when you think you've got Arhoolie pegged as a blues label, on comes a folk number. You settle into a zydeco groove, and the set shifts into gospel. Or Tex-Mex. There's also some bluegrass here. And jazz. Incredibly, all of this music makes some sort of sense together and the quality never flags throughout. Though the bulk of the package's greatest treats come from virtual unknowns (more than a few recorded in their own homes), you may already be familiar with some of these artists, including Jesse Fuller, K.C. Douglas, Mance Lipscomb, Clifton Chenier, and Flaco Jimenez. The accompanying 68-page, 41,000-word color "booklet" is more like a book. Co-producer Elijah Wald limited selections to recordings that Strachwitz himself made or supervised -- keeping the box from mushrooming beyond five discs -- but this meant the elimination of other great material. That will have to wait for the next box.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Jesse Fuller 03:44 Amazon
2 K.C. Douglas 02:49 Amazon
3 Mance Lipscomb 02:52 Amazon
4 02:31 Amazon
5 Robert Curtis Smith / Wade Walton 02:26 Amazon
6 Butch Cage / Willie Thomas 04:47 Amazon
7 The Hodges Brothers 02:54 Amazon
8 Alex Moore 03:07 Amazon
9 Black Ace 04:16 Amazon
10 Big Joe Williams 03:38 Amazon
11 Mercy Dee 02:48 Amazon
12 R.C. Smith 02:27 Amazon
13
00:54 Amazon
14 Albert Chevalier 03:57 Amazon
15 Lightnin' Hopkins 03:51 Amazon
16 Blind James Campbell 02:20 Amazon
17 Rev. Louis Overstreet 02:41 Amazon
18 George Lewis 05:12 Amazon
19 J.E. Mainer 03:02 Amazon
20 Hackberry Ramblers 02:14 Amazon
21 Booker T. Washington White 03:03 Amazon
22 Clifton Chenier 02:26 Amazon
23 Mississippi Fred McDowell 03:37 Amazon
24 Mance Lipscomb 03:35 Amazon
25 Clifton Chenier 03:03 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
Austin Pitre 03:13 Amazon
2 03:36 Amazon
3
Charles Ford Band 03:48 Amazon
4 L.C. "Good Rockin'" Robinson 06:20 Amazon
5 02:56 Amazon
6
Canray Fontenot / Alphonse "Bois Sec" Ardoin & Sons 03:19 Amazon
7 Bill Neely 02:43 Amazon
8 Narciso Martínez 02:02 Amazon
9 Trio San Antonio 03:47 Amazon
10 Trio San Antonio 02:22 Amazon
11 J.C. Burris 03:50 Amazon
12 Clifton Chenier 03:15 Amazon
13 Dewey Balfa / D.L. Menard / Marc Savoy 04:19 Amazon
14 Chavela Ortiz 03:54 Amazon
15
Robert Shaw 01:57 Amazon
16 Any Old Time String Band 04:50 Amazon
17
Conjunto Alma Jarocha 02:08 Amazon
18
Los Caporales de Panuco 03:37 Amazon
19
The Klezmorim 03:07 Amazon
20 02:24 Amazon
21 Don Santiago Jimenez, Sr. 02:52 Amazon
22
Lydia Mendoza 02:50 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Flaco Jiménez 03:35 Amazon
2 John Delafose 02:13 Amazon
3 Rose Maddox 02:10 Amazon
4 Canray Fontenot 02:24 Amazon
5 Octa Clark / Hector Duhon 03:15 Amazon
6
Santiago Jimenez, Jr. 02:43 Amazon
7 BeauSoleil / Michael Doucet 03:27 Amazon
8 Preston Frank 02:21 Amazon
9 Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band 03:53 Amazon
10 Wade Frugé 02:11 Amazon
11 Chuck Guillory 03:34 Amazon
12 Rebirth Brass Band 03:54 Amazon
13 Katie Webster 03:49 Amazon
14 Lawrence "Black" Ardoin 03:06 Amazon
15 Flaco Jiménez 03:25 Amazon
16 Los Campesinos de Michoacán 02:24 Amazon
17 Odile Falcon 00:58 Amazon
18 Michael Doucet 02:29 Amazon
19 BeauSoleil 03:39 Amazon
20 C.J. Chenier 03:20 Amazon
21 Valerio Longoria, Sr. 04:31 Amazon
22
03:27 Amazon
23
Omar Shariff 04:27 Amazon
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