Various Artists

Man of Constant Sorrow and Other Timeless Mountain Ballads

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Yazoo offers up another classic collection of mountain ballads and old-timey heartbreakers from the '20s and '30s on Man of Constant Sorrow. Chestnuts like "Ommie Wise," "John Hardy," "Darling Cora," and the title track are interspersed with lesser-known recordings from B.F. Shelton, Grayson & Whitter, Charlie Poole, and Ernest Stoneman. The Blue Sky Boys' contribution, "In the Hills of Roane County," is a chillingly beautiful high lonesome murder ballad highlighting Earl and Bill Bolick's fraternal harmonies, and the youthful Cousin Emmy's stark "Pretty Little Miss Out in the Garden" is accompanied intimately by her own gentle banjo picking. Surprisingly, the only clunkers on the album come from the usually spectacular Eck Robertson, whose singing fiddle is unusually out of tune and he spends both of the tracks competing with a female vocalist who shouts over the top of him (pre-dating Audrey Williams' offenses by a couple of decades). These 20 tracks were taken directly from rare old 78s, so some pops and crackles are to be expected, but anyone with a worn-out copy of The Anthology of American Folk Music won't mind a bit.

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