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Bourgeois Blues: Lead Belly Legacy, Vol. 2
Bourgeois Blues: Lead Belly Legacy, Vol. 2
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, Pop
  •  Track Listings (28) - Disc #1

This is volume 2 of a projected 3-volume set of Lead Belly's performances recorded by Moses Asch during the 1940s. The original masters now reside in the Folkways Archive at the Smithsonian Institution. Completely remaster...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Leadbelly
Title: Bourgeois Blues: Lead Belly Legacy, Vol. 2
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
Original Release Date: 3/18/1997
Release Date: 3/18/1997
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, Pop
Styles: Classic Country, Traditional Blues, Traditional Folk
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 093074004524


Album Description
This is volume 2 of a projected 3-volume set of Lead Belly's performances recorded by Moses Asch during the 1940s. The original masters now reside in the Folkways Archive at the Smithsonian Institution. Completely remastered from the best sources in our collections, this recording contains the highest sound quality possible. The liner notes contain extensive annotation and reflections on Lead Belly's music as you've never heard it before. Compiled and annotated by Jeff Place. "The soul expressed is full-fledged and sublime." ?New England Folk Almanac

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CD Reviews

Essential Blues, Essential Lead Belly
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I picked this up because I was looking for a nice cheap CD with alot of tracks. I had one Lead Belly CD already, but I wanted more. This won't disappoint. Traditional songs like Midnight Special and Gallis Pole are wonderful. Lead Belly's style is revolutionary, and his voice thunders like the trains immortalized by blues artists all over the Delta. It's so full of soul and feeling it stirs emotions. Muddy Waters said you have to have the blues to play the blues, and this recording shows that to be true, but Lead Belly also has a softer, playful side to his music, shown in the tracks Skip to My Lou and Red Bird. I once read something that all the kids would dance when a Lead Belly record was put on, and the question is, how could you not?"
I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie...
ewomack | MN USA | 05/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Lead Belly's thick and juicy 12-string guitar and soaring vocals kept belting out originals and classics right up until his death in 1949. In and out of prison from 1918 to 1934, he built up a vast repertoire that greatly impressed musicologist Alan Lomax. But after recording in the 1930s in New York City, he again found himself in prison from 1939 to 1940. None of those recordings found any commercial success. Then in the 1940s he began to record for Moses Asch. This disc, the second volume of a three volume series, preserves highlights of these recordings. They were all made in the last decade of Lead Belly's life. And though the money never poured in his reputation exploded as he played numerous shows in venues and in his apartment in New York City. His solid standing gets confirmed by Woody Guthrie's 1946 laudatory essay included in the CD booklet.

This collection includes some of Lead Belly's best known songs. "Fanning Street", named after a wild and dangerous street in Louisiana from Lead Belly's youth, starts off the collection with a bang. The hypnotic guitar playing alone leaves the brain mesmerized. Unfortunately, the spoken (and musical) introduction was cut, which leaves the song sounding a little truncated in this context (see "A Vision Shared" for the complete version). And "Bourgeois Blues" remains one of Lead Belly's signature songs. "This is the home of the brave, land of the free / I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie". The rollicking "Gallis Pole" tells the story of a man facing the gallows. His father and mother bring silver and gold to "keep me from the gallis pole". But his "so called friend" just stops by to "see you hanging from the gallis pole". In the 1970s Led Zeppelin (on "Led Zeppelin III") recorded a version of this song in which the mother and father confess that they're too poor to bring silver and gold. Lead Belly helped popularize this song that had pervaded the folk scene for decades. "Midnight Special", also popularized by Lead Belly, was covered by Creedence Clearwater Revival in the 1960s. It was supposedly sung in prisons all over the south in the 1930s as a hymm of freedom. "Jim Crow Blues" (named after the infamous minstrel show performer) recounts experiences with racism in early and mid twentieth century america. Most telling is the line "it's a lot of Jim Crow in a moving picture show". Lead Belly once had moved to California to pursue a movie career, but felt shafted by the racism prevalent in the industry. And "Haul Away Joe" transforms an Irish sea shanty into a hanuting southern work song.

The multitudinous topics and melodies on this disc pay homage to Lead Belly's true breadth as a performer. It includes songs about racism, Hitler, Abe Lincoln, tuberculosis ("T.B. Blues"), love gone bad ("Leavin' Blues", "Careless Love", "Don't You Love Your Daddy No More?"), songs for children ("Skip To My Lou" and "Red Bird"), a capella work songs ("Linin' Track"), songs about legends ("John Henry" and "John Hardy"), travel ("Alabama Bound"), and countless other themes. Lead Belly's deep and powerful voice emanates inexorably on every track. And his guitar playing remains nearly astonishing throughout.

The sound quality does reflect the era before magnetic tape found wide use. Many of these recordings come from glass or aluminum acetates, some of which have dilapidated. But the quality never dips below unacceptable (see the "Archivist's Remarks" in the CD booklet for some fascinating history). Most of the songs ring very clear considering their some sixty years of age.

This collection picks up right where the first volume "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" leaves off. It provides futher testament as to why Lead Belly remains one of the most influential performers of the twentieth century."
2nd of 3 in Smithsonian's Lead Belly Legacy series
ewomack | 11/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"(72') This is the second of three volumes in the Smithsonian's Lead Belly series, probably the best set for just listening to Lead Belly play and sing. All three CDs are taken from Moses Asch's original studio masters (as opposed to most other available compilations on reprint labels, which are made from secondary sources); the other two are Vol. 1 "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" SF40044 (67'), and Vol. 3 "Shout On" SF40105 (70'). As usual, the Smithsonian provides extensive and authoritative notes."