Those who have followed the remarkable career of Alan Lomax are likely already familiar with the work of Hobart Smith. Smith's virtuosity on a variety of folk instruments, including banjo, guitar, and fiddle, have graced many a Lomax collection, as has his salt-of-the-earth voice. Listeners may be familiar with his readings of "Ellen Smith" or "Railroad Bill." Smith's output was prodigious, but many of the records were made for companies that no longer exist. Finding his records has been a problem. What a joy then to have many of his songs collected here. Perhaps best known for his song "The Cuckoo Bird," Smith was a professional musician who performed across the country with his wife, and, as his profession demanded, could play just about anything on anything. This disc does an admirable job of summarizing his remarkable career, including both searing instrumentals and sardonic vocal performances to give the initiate some idea of the scope of this man's talent. This disc should revive interest in a man whose influence on the folk revival of the '60s cannot be underestimated.
AllMusic Review by Rob Ferrier