When Elektra Records decided to reissue Koerner, Ray & Glover's debut album, Blues, Rags & Hollers, a mere five months after it had first appeared -- in a pressing of only 300 copies -- on Audiophile Records, there were technical problems. The 20-track Audiophile LP ran nearly 52 minutes and, as Tony "Little Sun" Glover later put it in his liner notes to the 1995 CD reissue, the tracks "filled the vinyl, right up to the label. (Some people's turntables rejected part-way through the last tune on a side…)" Further, Elektra "didn't like the wide stereo spread, so they wanted to put it out in mono." (That would affect the width of the grooves and thus also improve the playability of the LP.) As a result, the trio was asked to delete two songs from each side of the disc for the reissue. They decided to lose "Spider" John Koerner's "Ted Mack Rag" and "Too Bad," Dave "Snaker" Ray's version of Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom," and the concluding track, a trio version of Leadbelly's "Mumblin' Word." That still left 16 tracks and nearly 42 minutes of what constituted one of the defining albums of the folk revival. The Minneapolis, MN, trio, with Koerner and Ray on guitar and vocals, plus Glover on harmonica and vocals, were the quintessential young, white collegiate folk-blues enthusiasts from the North striving to play the traditional music as if they were old, black, uneducated musicians from the South. The thing was, they succeeded, not only in re-creating the sound of Leadbelly and Sleepy John Estes, among others, but also in writing their own original songs that sounded authentic. This was the essence of the folk revival at the time, an homage to what went before that paid tribute through sincere imitation, attempting to preserve a tradition and extend it into the future. The three musicians actually didn't play together throughout the record, only appearing as a trio on the opening song, "Linin' Track." In between, Koerner had six solo performances, Ray had five, Glover had one, and there were two duets between Ray and Glover and one between Koerner and Glover (plus a lot of sympathetic foot-tapping). This version was the only one available for the next three decades, but in 1995 Red House Records licensed the album from Elektra and released it on CD in its original stereo, 20-track form.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann