Yazoo has released yet another wonderful compilation chock full of recordings that are essential for roots music fans. The Half Ain't Never Been Told, Vol. 1 chronicles American rural religious music of the 1920s and 1930s. The moving, heartfelt praise and prayers included here range from a cappella choirs to solo artists with musical accompaniment to gospel groups. Unusually, the collection doesn't separate music from black and white rural music traditions, mixing in bluegrass, prewar gospel blues, sacred harp singing, spirituals, and more. With this variety of styles equally dispersed between two volumes, if you want one, you will want them both. Included on Volume 1 is Washington Phillips and several sacred harp singing groups, as well as many choirs and congregational recordings. As is always the case with compilations of such early and rare recordings, the sound quality varies widely, with a hiss ranging from barely noticeable to hissing at the same volume as any of the instruments. Nonetheless, this compilation makes an important addition to the library of roots music fans who can overlook sound quality inconveniences for the recordings' historical importance.
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AllMusic Review by Joslyn Layne