Various Artists

There Is No Eye: Music for Photographs

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This various-artists folk compilation is a companion CD to John Cohen's book of photographs, There Is No Eye. Cohen, as many people interested in the music assembled here will already know, is not just a photographer, but also a filmmaker, producer, and musician who was a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers. Whether or not you have the book (and some photos are included in the liner notes), this is a good anthology, though so eclectic that there aren't any particularly strong conceptual threads connecting the tracks (seven of which were previously unissued). Undoubtedly, the song to attract the greatest interest will be Bob Dylan's "Roll on John," a previously unreleased performance of a traditional song from a 1962 New York radio show. It's a decent selection that's in line with Dylan's early folk phase, but just one of about a couple of dozen tracks spanning the 1940s to the early 21st century. There are blues from Reverend Gary Davis and Muddy Waters; a previously unissued "John Henry" by Bill Monroe, from Cohen's 1962 film The High Lonesome Sound; folk revival legends Elizabeth Cotten, Doc Watson, and Roscoe Holcomb; bluegrass by Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard; gospel, a Peruvian stringband, and more. There's even beatnik jazz by David Amram ("Pull My Daisy," from the soundtrack to the film of the same name), and "Love My Darling-O," sung by folklorist Alan Lomax himself. The New Lost City Ramblers are represented by "Buck Creek Girls." The music is, for the most part, well-recorded, and it makes for an above-average sampler of various folk styles (mostly, but not exclusively, American), due to its variety and quality.

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