Fiddlin' Doc Roberts

Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, Vol. 2

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The second of three Document collections devoted to Fiddlin' Doc Roberts covers most of his recorded output from late August 1928 through mid-January 1930. The 22 selections here represent a little less than half of his studio collaborations with guitarist Asa Martin, who punctuates the proceedings with square dance calls on tracks seven through ten and breathes through a harmonica on tracks 19 and 20. "Mandolin Rag," "Take Those Lips Away," and the slow polka "Shamrock Schottische" come as a pleasant surprise, for on these sides Roberts switches over to mandolin and demonstrates a facility that was entirely comparable with his fiddling expertise. "Farewell Waltz" was recorded several times by Roberts, once under the more familiar title "Over the Waves." "Jacks Creek Waltz" and "Honeymoon Waltz" are fine easygoing dance numbers that seem pleasant enough without attaining the utter majesty of waltzes preserved on records by Daniel Huggins Williams and the East Texas Serenaders. "Waltz the Hall" is not a waltz at all but more like a reel or a two-step. "Rye Straw" comes across as a steady roll when compared with a wilder version by Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers with fiddling by Clayton McMichen and a vocal by Riley Puckett. "Rye Straw" belongs with "Chicken Reel" and "The Girl I Left Behind Me" in the category of quintessential old-time Eastern North American airs. Some of the tunes on this album are known to be native to the immediate environment where these men spent most of their lives, such as "Deer Walk," "Johnny Inchin' Along," and "The Devil in Georgia." Roberts picked up "Rocky Mountain Goat" from an elderly resident of Beattieville named Dude Freeman, and "Jacks Creek Waltz" is attributed to an African-American fiddler who like Roberts lived in Madison County, KY. "Shoot That Turkey Buzzard" was revisited decades later by Doc Roberts devotee Peter Stampfel and the Holy Modal Rounders, with revised lyrics containing a cheerful reference to a golden shower. The producers of this series were unable to locate playable copies of "My Old Coon Dog," "Goodbye Waltz," and "My Baby Don't Love Me." Hopefully, a future edition will include these titles and feature better overall remastering. The third and final volume in Document's reissued works of Fiddlin' Doc Roberts covers his recording activity during the years 1930-1934.

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