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Review: box set: Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard

Desert Dancer 18 Jan 13 - 11:55 PM
Desert Dancer 20 Jan 13 - 02:30 PM
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Subject: Review: box set: Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 18 Jan 13 - 11:55 PM

This new boxed set from Tompkins Square looks interesting and it doesn't look like it's been mentioned here before:

Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard : Hard Time, Good Time & End Time Music : 1923-1936 (2012, available as a 3 CD or 3 LP set)
Work, play, pray – the lifecycle of the rural America that created our greatest generation of country music, 1923 to 1936. These volumes survey songs of labor and occupation, hardship and loss; dance tunes, comic numbers, and novelties that provided distraction and fun; and the hymns and sacred pieces that reached beyond the raw material of daily existence for something enduring. Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard features 19 previously un-reissued sides and is largely drawn from the collection of the late Don Wahle of Louisville, Kentucky. A hillbilly 78 collector for many years, his records were hours away from the dump when producer Nathan Salsburg recovered them. Compiled and annotated by Salsburg with accompanying essays by Sarah Bryan (editor of the Old Time Herald), Amanda Petrusich (New York Times; author of It Still Moves), and John Jeremiah Sullivan( Southern editor of the Paris Review; author of Blood Horses and the essay collection Pulphead).

Saved, by John Jeremiah Sullivan in the Paris Review, is a nice overview/essay.

A good review by J. Poet at Allmusic opens this way:
The story behind this box set is just interesting as the music on the rare 78s that were remastered to produce this beautiful three-LP set. In March of 2010, Nathan Salsburg, a record collector who had always dreamed of unearthing a crate full of rare records from the early days of the American record business, had his dreams come true. A friend that worked in the Louisville city dump called him up and told him that a hoarder named Don Wahle had just died. Wahle left behind a massive collection of LPs from the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Salsburg rescued part of the collection from the dump and discovered that along with the LPs, Wahle has also hoarded every 78-rpm disc that came his way. Salsburg made his was to Wahle's house, which was slated to be torn down in the next few weeks, and found a closet filled with hundreds of 78s. He loaded them into his pickup truck, cleaned them up, sorted them, and started to program this box set. He'd been working on the Work Hard, Play Hard concept before he found Wahle's collection, going through the music collected by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, but there were so many songs to choose from that the project lost inertia. Reinvigorated, and inspired by the many rare selections in Wahle's collection, Salsburg finally put together the Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard anthology, and dedicated it to Wahle, a man who seemingly had no friends or acquaintances except for other record collectors.

The 42 tracks are listed at the Allmusic review, with audio samples available.

~ Becky in Long Beach

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Subject: RE: Review: box set: Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 20 Jan 13 - 02:30 PM


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