Various Artists

Sounds of the South [4 CDs]

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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer

The music on this anthology has been derived from several notable albums of field recordings by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax gathered in the South during the early 20th century. The primary components include the long-players Sounds of the South (1960), Blue Ridge Mountain Music (1960), Roots of the Blues (1960), Blues Roll On (1960), Negro Church Music (1960), White Spirituals (1960), and American Folk Songs for Children (1960). In Lomax's 1993 written introduction, he reveals that the four and a half hours housed in the package were "culled out of eight hours of field tapes" documented during a two-month tour in the summer of 1959 that began in Virginia and progressed into the Ozarks, the Mississippi Delta, and then the Georgia Sea Islands. While he goes on to explain the significance of his research, the authenticity of the living aural history really speaks for itself. Artists and songs of possible familiarity to enthusiasts of folk and blues are scattered throughout. Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning," "Shake 'Em on Down," and "Drop Down Mama," the Mountain Ramblers' "Cotton-Eyed Joe" and "Shady Grove," and Estil C. Ball & Orna Ball's "Jenny Jenkins" are taken from the Sounds of the South and Blue Ridge Mountain Music entries. The trio of Boy Blue (vocal/harmonica), Willie Jones (guitar), and Joe Lee (drums) provides a seminal reading of "Boogie Children," while Lonnie Young (vocal/bass drum), Ed Young (cane fife), and Lonnie Young, Jr. (snare drum) unleash a variation of "Sittin' on Top of the World" from Roots of the Blues and Blues Roll On. Negro Church Music and White Spirituals' sacred selections are highlighted by a "Sermon Fragment" from the Reverend G.I. Townsel as well as a "Sermon and Lining Hymn" featuring Reverend I.D. Back with his congregation and a stirring solo rendition of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" by the previously mentioned Estil C. Ball. Perhaps most fascinating are the American Folk Songs for Children, as they transcend race or religious creed. Almeda Riddle's "Froggie Went A-Courtin'," Bessie Jones' "Hambone," Hobart Smith's "The Arkansas Traveler," the Mountain Ramblers' "Liza Jane," Mississippi Fred McDowell's "Freight Train Blues," James Shorty/Viola James & Congregation's inspired "This Little Light of Mine," and a rare confab between Felix Dukes and Mississippi Fred McDowell on "Motherless Children" all surpassed their era.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
Neil Morris 01:59 Amazon
2 Ed Young 03:05 Amazon
3
Estil C. Ball 02:59 Amazon
4
Vera Hall 02:03 Amazon
5
Mountain Ramblers 02:16 Amazon
6
Neil Morris 04:54 Amazon
7
Bob Carpenter 02:35 Amazon
8
Vera Hall 01:38 Amazon
9
Reverend W.A. Donaldson 01:36 Amazon
10
Reverend W.A. Donaldson 03:02 Amazon
11 Alabama Sacred Harp Singers 02:00 Amazon
12 Mississippi Fred McDowell 02:45 Amazon
13 Sid Hemphill / Lucius Smith 02:04 Amazon
14
John Davis 01:03 Amazon
15 Ed Lewis 02:21 Amazon
16 Ed Lewis 02:36 Amazon
17
Mountain Ramblers 02:32 Amazon
18 Mountain Ramblers 02:14 Amazon
19 Estil C. Ball / Orna Ball 02:42 Amazon
20 Cullen Galyen / Mountain Ramblers 03:46 Amazon
21
Eldridge Montgomery / Mountain Ramblers 03:01 Amazon
22
Mountain Ramblers 02:27 Amazon
23
Mountain Ramblers 02:20 Amazon
24
Wade Ward 02:12 Amazon
25
Mountain Ramblers 04:31 Amazon
26
Hobart Smith 01:52 Amazon
27
Hobart Smith 02:01 Amazon
28
Mountain Ramblers 02:18 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Ed Young / Lonnie Young 03:06 Amazon
2 Vera Hall 01:03 Amazon
3 Mississippi Fred McDowell 02:55 Amazon
4 Bob Pratcher / Miles Pratcher 03:33 Amazon
5 Mississippi Fred McDowell 03:19 Amazon
6 Forrest City Joe 05:16 Amazon
7 Ed Young / Lonnie Young 04:04 Amazon
8 Johnny Lee Moore 02:46 Amazon
9 Johnny Lee Moore 02:38 Amazon
10 Forrest City Joe 02:51 Amazon
11 Mississippi Fred McDowell 02:49 Amazon
12 Boy Blue 02:54 Amazon
13 Forrest City Joe 03:20 Amazon
14 Lonnie Young 02:40 Amazon
15 John Dudley 03:02 Amazon
16 Forrest City Joe 03:21 Amazon
17 Forest City Joe 02:50 Amazon
18 Boy Blue 03:36 Amazon
19
Rosa Lee Hill 03:22 Amazon
20 Mississippi Fred McDowell 03:24 Amazon
21 Forrest City Joe 03:37 Amazon
22 Forrest City Joe 02:55 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
Vera Hall 01:50 Amazon
2
James Shorty 03:43 Amazon
3
Mary Lee 03:14 Amazon
4 Reverend R.C. Crenshaw 02:47 Amazon
5 Reverend G.I. Townsel 03:02 Amazon
6
Reverend R.C. Crenshaw 02:48 Amazon
7
Madam Mattie Wigley 02:34 Amazon
8
Viola James 02:56 Amazon
9
Viola James / James Shorty 03:37 Amazon
10
Henry Morrison / Saint Simon's Island Singers 02:39 Amazon
11
John Davis / Bessie Jones / Henry Morrison 02:24 Amazon
12
Bernice McClellan 02:58 Amazon
13 Estil C. Ball / Blair Reedy 02:48 Amazon
14 Estil C. Ball / Blair Reedy 02:55 Amazon
15 Estil C. Ball 03:14 Amazon
16
Mountain Ramblers 02:49 Amazon
17 I.D. Back 03:32 Amazon
18 Alabama Sacred Harp Singers 01:35 Amazon
19 Alabama Sacred Harp Singers 01:39 Amazon
20 Estil C. Ball / Lacey Richardson 02:41 Amazon
21
Estil C. Ball 02:09 Amazon
22 Estil C. Ball 02:45 Amazon
23 Estil C. Ball 02:09 Amazon
24
Mountain Ramblers 02:29 Amazon
25 Estil C. Ball / Lacey Richardson 03:06 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
Mainer Band 02:14 Amazon
2
Almeda Riddle 01:49 Amazon
3
Mainer Band 01:29 Amazon
4
Almeda Riddle 02:48 Amazon
5 Mainer Band 01:53 Amazon
6 Almeda Riddle 01:17 Amazon
7 Mountain Ramblers 00:52 Amazon
8
Almeda Riddle 04:02 Amazon
9 Mainer Band 03:00 Amazon
10 Bessie Jones 03:02 Amazon
11
Almeda Riddle 02:27 Amazon
12 Hobart Smith 01:43 Amazon
13
Mattie Garder / Mary Gardner / Jesse Lee Pratcher 00:45 Amazon
14
Bessie Jones 01:06 Amazon
15 Hobart Smith 01:35 Amazon
16
Mattie Garder / Mary Gardner / Jesse Lee Pratcher 00:43 Amazon
17 Bessie Jones 00:54 Amazon
18 Hobart Smith 01:48 Amazon
19
Estil C. Ball 02:15 Amazon
20 Texas Gladden 01:38 Amazon
21 Bessie Jones 01:14 Amazon
22
Wade Ward 01:46 Amazon
23
Spencer Moore 02:34 Amazon
24 Mountain Ramblers 03:08 Amazon
25 Ed Young / Lonnie Young 02:37 Amazon
26 Forrest City Joe 04:31 Amazon
27 Mississippi Fred McDowell 03:03 Amazon
28 Viola James / James Shorty 02:39 Amazon
29
Felix Dukes 02:49 Amazon
30
Neil Morris 03:24 Amazon
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