Lead Belly

In the Shadow of the Gallows Pole

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There seems to be some kind of unwritten rule against giving exact session dates on most Tradition CD reissues, although at least one of the tracks on In the Shadow of the Gallows Pole comes from 1939. The sleeve does note that the material "is digitally remastered directly from rare, mint condition 78s contained in Leadbelly's first full album, Negro Sinful Songs, and from 78s released on the Stinson label." There's some interest in the variety of instrumentation -- Leadbelly uses not only his 12-string guitar, but also piano and button accordion (the last of which is used to unusual effect on the version of "John Hardy"). "The Bourgeois Blues" is also a bit unusual in that its lyric derives not from folk traditions, but from an incident in Washington, D.C. in 1935 in which Leadbelly encountered segregation. This can't be recommended as one of his more essential releases, however, particularly as the running time is a mere 28 minutes.

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