Originally released in 1962, Frank Proffitt's recordings on Songs and Ballads are both enjoyable and accessible. Although Proffitt's recordings on The Warner Collections are fine, they often seem more like short snippets than songs. Here, songs like "Tom Dooley" and "Reuben Train" receive a fuller treatment, usually running between two and three minutes. Proffitt delivers fine renditions of a number of classics, including "Lord Randall," "Handsome Molly," and "Sourwood Mountain." He accompanies himself on banjo for a rousing version of the jealous-murder ballad "Wild Bill Jones," and opts for an a cappella version of the moving "Song of a Lost Hunter." In both cases, the steady rhythm of the banjo and the bareness of his solo voice perfectly complement the design of the lyric. The order of the tracks, whether by plan or accident, will bring a smile to the listener's face as "Moonshine" makes way for "Rye Whiskey," which makes way for "I'll Never Get Drunk No More." It may seem paradoxical to chroniclers of the folk revival that, in 1962, when so much pop-folk held sway on the radio airwaves, music this pure didn't win out over the Highwaymen. The quality of these songs is superb, and Proffitt is in good voice. Thank the folk gods that Sandy Paton recorded these tracks and that Folk Legacy has decided to re-release them on CD. Songs and Ballads of Appalachia will appeal to anyone interested in real old-time music. Mountain music doesn't get much better than this.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.