This volume in Document's field recordings series covers material collected by Alan Lomax in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi for the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song, opening with nine Afro-French tracks from Louisiana that could have come from nowhere else on earth. Each shows the effects of multiculture collisions and infusions, producing fascinating musical hybrids like Jimmy Peters' galloping stomp called "Rockaway," which sets up on a giant percussion groove that defies genre. Following a hard left turn into Alabama for a single song, Vera Hall's sweet, gentle, and unaccompanied lullaby called "Come Up Horsey, Hey, Hey," the balance of the disc collects handclapping songs, work songs, and laments recorded in the women's wing of the State Penitentiary in Parchman, MS, including Beatrice Perry's "I Got a Man on the Wheeler (Levee Camp Blues)," a haunting, complex analysis of the men in her life that is both sad and powerfully intimate, particularly given her confinement in Parchman. The sound quality isn't the best, but given the archival and historical importance of these recordings, and given the unforgettable nature of performances like Perry's, it hardly matters. Listeners are just very lucky that recordings like this have survived.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett