The Skillet Lickers

The Skillet Lickers, Vol. 2: 1927-1928

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The legendary Skillet Lickers from Georgia played music, performed skits, and fought with one another during the 1920s and 1930s. This makes them something like the prototypical popular band with artistic differences. The core of the band consisted of fiddler/banjo player Gid Tanner, fiddler Clayton McMichen, and guitarist Riley Puckett. Their first recordings in 1927 would eventually sell over a million copies, which was pretty darn impressive at the time. The second volume of The Skillet Lickers series features songs initially recorded between 1927 and 1928. On these recordings the band shines forth in all its rough-hewn glory, singing and fiddling its way through classics such as "Cumberland Gap" and "Cotton-Eye Joe." Tanner's humor is on display throughout, and he delivers his trademark falsetto harmony on songs like "Drink 'Er Down" and "Bile Them Cabbage Down." There are lively versions of "Cotton-Eyed Joe" and "Black-Eyed Susie," and a number of skits, like "Possum Hunt on Stump House Mountain" and "Hog Killing Day." While today's listener may fail to find humor in skits like "A Fiddlers' Convention in Georgia," the song proved quite popular in its day, selling over 70,000 copies. While these sketches may rely too heavily on certain Southern stereotypes, they nonetheless provide interesting social documents of the era. Many of these recordings have been hard to find, and Document has done a fine job collecting this music and placing it in chronological order. Transferring old, scratchy 78s is a process wrought with difficulties, but everything sounds great here. This is fine installment in The Skillet Lickers series, and is sure to please collectors and old-time music lovers.

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