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Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years

Rick Fielding 26 Oct 01 - 12:05 PM
Tedham Porterhouse 26 Oct 01 - 12:15 PM
Rick Fielding 26 Oct 01 - 12:23 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 26 Oct 01 - 12:28 PM
Whistle Stop 26 Oct 01 - 12:32 PM
DougR 26 Oct 01 - 12:33 PM
Rick Fielding 26 Oct 01 - 12:38 PM
Francy 26 Oct 01 - 12:41 PM
marty D 26 Oct 01 - 10:03 PM
catspaw49 26 Oct 01 - 10:43 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 26 Oct 01 - 11:15 PM
Rick Fielding 27 Oct 01 - 07:20 PM
Tinker 28 Oct 01 - 07:18 AM
Steve Latimer 28 Oct 01 - 08:39 AM
catspaw49 28 Oct 01 - 09:01 AM
Steve Latimer 28 Oct 01 - 09:11 AM
Clinton Hammond 28 Oct 01 - 10:54 AM
Rick Fielding 29 Oct 01 - 10:30 PM
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Subject: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:05 PM

Almost 40 years ago my school librarian (who I've reconnected with recently) saw me staring out the library window blankly while serving one of my many detentions (probably earned for staring out the CLASSROOM window blankly) and changed my life forever. He must have known that I had started to learn guitar and was investigating the mysteries of the Kingston Trio and The Weavers.(with some Buddy Holly and Elvis on the side)

He handed me a chunky Folkways album of early Black and White country/blues music compiled by Sam Charters, and pushed me into one of those little record-listening booths with headphones the size of mixing bowls.....AND NO WINDOWS!

Over the next hour I was introduced to Jimmie Rogers, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Rev. Gary Davis, Riley Puckett, and a dozen others. It was an epiphany. To say that any hope I had for achieving 'normalcy' in adulthood, flew out the window (had there been one) would be an understatement. I still loved Elvis and do to this day (the skinny one who rocked, anyway) but the "weird stuff" got it's claws in me, and still won't let go.

I just received my radio copy of John Cohen's collection of traditional and interpretive musicians (all of whom he's photographed) from Smithsonian Folkways, and I urge anyone who'd like to put "the sound" to a lot of the more obscure names mentioned on Mudcat, to beg, borrow, (steal, only as a last resort) or buy this album.

I won't list everyone represented, but there are 23 cuts, and many are seeing the light for the first time. Highlites for me are:

Rev. Gary Davis from his apartment in 1954 (before his fame) playing Samson and Delilah, in a way never captured on later recordings.

Libba Cotten's picking, and Doc Watson's beautiful ballad singing, both from the 'early days'.

Cuts by a young Muddy waters and even younger Bob Dylan. The similarities in their approaches is stunning. Totally extroverted, mannered, and much decorated vocals, driven by rock-solid instrumental work. Two artists who simply didn't give a shit (at that point) what their audiences wanted or expected. Dylan verbally credits Ralph Rinzler as his source for "Roll On John" before re-inventng and improvising on the original.

Since being 'discovered' by the mainstream, Ralph Stanley has gradually exaggerated his vocal delivery ( George Jones, as well) to the point where the 'decoration' sometimes obscures the song; especially on his "hit" "Man of Constant Sorrow". On this album, Roscoe Holcomb sings it beautifully and "straight" (the way he 'learned it from Ralph' in the early sixties).

My own favourite "singing" Stanley Brother is the late Carter S. and he does a beautiful rendition of "Come All you Tenderhearted" (learned the night before from Roscoe Holcomb) at a University....once again totally unlike any future recorded versions.

The man who was the first "country record Star", Eck Robertson (back in 1923) is captured in old age fiddling a "Sally Goodin" with amazing strength, pitch and even improvisations.

As part of his film "Gypsies Sing Long Ballads" Cohen recorded Mary Townsley singing "Young But Growing" in Dundee Scotland. Once again, harsh, and riveting. Never heard a version like it.

Dammit, If I comment on EVERY cut of this great album, this post will reach epic length, but I loved the old time banjo solo of Mountaineer Sid Myers, Hazel and Alice's twin falsetto yodelling, Bill Monroe's (once again, before he was 'discovered') "John Henry", and perhaps the biggest surprise, (for me, anyway) Alan Lomax's spirited take on Ironhead Baker's "Love My Darling-O". Nah...you'll have to listen yourself for the rest of the treasures, but I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that a few people are going to hear this album, and their musical tastes are never gonna be the same again.

Nothin' against the albums from "Oh Brother.." and "Songcatcher", but this is the REAL thing.

It's (long) title is:

"There Is No Eye: Music For Photographs". (recordings of musicians photographed by John Cohen) SFW CD 40091.

I imagine Mudcatter Dick Greenhaus can come up with a copy for you. He's at CAMSCO.COM or you can phone 800-548-FOLK. If I've got any of that wrong Dick, you can supply more info.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:15 PM

Rick,

I believe the album is being released for sale on November 6.


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:23 PM

Thanks Ted.

Woody and his wonderfully distinctive harp and lead(!) guitar, are featured on "Ramblin' Round", as well.

hmmmmmmm, maybe I WILL get all the cuts in this thread!! Ha ha!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:28 PM

Do I see the makings of another "Songcatcher" thread? Which album represents folk music best - A, B, C???? Spaw?????


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:32 PM

Thanks for the tip, Rick -- I'll be looking for this one.


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: DougR
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:33 PM

Thanks for posting this Rick. I'm gonna get it.

Spaw: did you ever see "Songcatcher?" It's in the video stores now if you didn't. :>)

DougR


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:38 PM

Well Cohen is quite a "songcatcher" himself.....and on this album he catches a great version of "Sally Johnson" by Wade Ward and Charlie Johnson"

......still a few to go....

Rick


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Francy
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 12:41 PM

Got my copy yesterday and agree fully with Rick.....A real Folk Album with tons of good listening.......... Fank of Toledo


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: marty D
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 10:03 PM

That's quite a rave Rick. Did you not consider the soundtracks from Songcatcher and O Brother Where ar't Thou 'real' folk? I'm not being contentious, just curious.

marty


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 10:43 PM

I'll let Rick give you his version on that Marty, but what he is describing here is the "root" voices and sounds.....Authentic and true, if you will, to where the music came from, and played and sang in the "natural" way of things......no big mixers, multiple tracking, or any of the things we often hear and kinda' take for granted. Singin' and pickin' from porch to parlor to kitchen, but not for commercial consumption until someone came up and said, "Let me record that on this tape recorder." Music by the folks who lived it and grew with it...It's one of the many reasons I love Frank Proffitt.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 26 Oct 01 - 11:15 PM

The music from O Brother, Where Art Thou" was, for the most part, an attempt by a number of very talented singers/musicians to re-create several forms of old-time music. In this respect, they succeeded admirably. It's a great collection of really good stuff. It's still a far cry from the old originals mentioned by Rick above. The "Songcatcher" soundtrack avoids, for the most part, the type of music the film allegedly seeks to "exalt." There are a number of really good songs/tunes performed really well in the film, but those most closely resembling the "real thing" are not to be found on the album. The added material on the album isn't bad, but it's hardly folk. I'm not mudslinging. I bought both recordings and I'm glad I did. If I want to hear the real thing I just have to expend a little more effort locating it. A grandfather of mine and several great and great-great uncles played the old-time stuff on fiddle and banjo. My mother and her mother and aunts and their mother sang the old ballads like "Gypsy Davy," "Barbara Allen," "The Devil and The Farmer's Wife" and others that were passed along through my female ancestors. These songs were sung to me by these women as far back as I can remember. All this probably makes me a tough critic of recent attempts to re-create the material. I am glad of the renewed interest though. As if anyone asked me...Anyway, Jean Ritchie is the genuine article and there are others.


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Oct 01 - 07:20 PM

Hi Marty. Yeah, Spaw and Big daddy have eloquently explained the situation.

I haven't seen Songcatcher yet, but I think I know what I'm in for, and will probably enjoy it without having false expectations.

Oh Brother was a disappointment to me, but only from the film editing and direction point of view. Had I not surrounded myself with trad music for over forty years, the soundtrack probably would have bowled me over, as it has for so many.

The John Cohen collection is, as the boys here have said, basically spontaneous recordings of folks that Cohen liked. Now HAD he thrown Dylan's (or even Doc's) name on the cover, in an attempt to sell a few more thousand copies, I'd be a tad more cynical, but it would still be a worthy collection for any traddie or newbie wanting to hear the "real" stuff.

It's a magnificent album. Grab one if you can.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Tinker
Date: 28 Oct 01 - 07:18 AM

Thanks Rick,
This type of thread is why I love Mudcat. You and Sandy and Art have gotten me hooked on field recordings, but I'm never quiet sure what to get next. Of course I did just blow my budget rather impressively at both the Camsco and Folk Legacy Tables at Getaway... but it's just one more right??

Tinker


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 28 Oct 01 - 08:39 AM

Is it called "John Cohen's collection of traditional and interpretive musicians"? It sure sounds like something that I would love to have.


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Oct 01 - 09:01 AM

There Is No Eye: Music For Photographs

Check with Dick Greenhaus at Camsco Music and see if he can't get it for you. Rick has the phone number in his first post.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 28 Oct 01 - 09:11 AM

Thanks 'Spaw. I should have seen that. I haven't had my coffee yet.


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Subject: Real Folk ????
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 28 Oct 01 - 10:54 AM

"REAL" folk???

for shame.... for shame...

tisk tisk...


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Subject: RE: Best Real Folk Album I've Heard in Years
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 29 Oct 01 - 10:30 PM

I stand humbled Clinton!!

Cheers

Rick


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