There are dozens of Leadbelly compilations available, but THE LEGENDARY MASTERS SERIES stands out. Where most anthologies focus, almost by necessity, on one period of Leadbelly's prolific career or one aspect of his multifaceted musical style, the 16-track LEGENDARY MASTER SERIES attempts, and largely succeeds, to provide a general introduction to Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter for novices.
Beginning with his earliest commercial recordings, in 1935, and continuing through his career until his death in 1949, the songs on THE LEGENDARY MASTERS SERIES cover every aspect of Leadbelly's unique musical vision, from acoustic Delta blues, to traditional folk, to cowboy songs, to gospel, to jazz, and to pop influences. Though his best-known songs, "Goodnight Irene" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," are absent, what's here, from the classic "Midnight Special" to the odd "Pigmeat," are essential. Novices looking for a basic introduction to this legendary singer/guitarist need look no further.