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Before The Blues: The Early American Black Music Scene, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Before The Blues: The Early American Black Music Scene, Vol. 1
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, World Music, Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (23) - Disc #1

Before the blues? If you take Webster's first definition--"Low spirits: melancholy"--well, then we're not talking pre-W.C. Handy. We're going back to Eve and the Apple. But, for Yazoo's three-disc Before the Blues series, ...  more »

      

CD Details

All Artists: Various Artists
Title: Before The Blues: The Early American Black Music Scene, Vol. 1
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Yazoo
Original Release Date: 1/1/2020
Re-Release Date: 3/19/1996
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, World Music, Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
Styles: Classic Country, Delta Blues, Traditional Blues, Acoustic Blues, Traditional Folk, Instruments, Strings
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 016351201522

Synopsis

Amazon.com
Before the blues? If you take Webster's first definition--"Low spirits: melancholy"--well, then we're not talking pre-W.C. Handy. We're going back to Eve and the Apple. But, for Yazoo's three-disc Before the Blues series, it's safe to assume the anthologists worked off of the second definition: "A song of lamentation characterized by 12-bar phrases [and] 3-line stanzas in which the words of the second stanza repeat those of the first, and continual occurrence of blues hones in melody and harmony." That works. The 23-song first set in the series offers up a vastly entertaining assortment of rags, breakdowns, and shuffles. Some names may ring a bell with noncollectors (Henry Thomas, Mississippi John Hurt), and a few tunes have become a part of America's musical landscape (notably the eerie "Pretty Polly"). Most of what's found here, however, is unfamiliar, and fascinating. --Steven Stolder

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CD Reviews

A Great Introduction to VERY Old-School Blues
lonesome_d | 06/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This collection is almost more folk than blues, or perhaps it is a collection of blues songs when the genre was defined differently; in either case, it's something that anyone really interested in the history and progression of blues music should check out. Maybe listen to old-school John Lee Hooker (The Complete 50's Chess Recordings, for example) or a Lead Belly album to get more of an idea what this is like, much more Delta-blues-sounding than Chicago. If for no other reason, pick this up for the great track buy Mississippi John Hurt, one of my personal favorites."
THANKS FOR THE REMINDER!!
Rob Preble | Rapid City, SD United States | 04/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In their usual meticulous way, the good people at Yazoo have brought to light a (mostly) forgotten collection of old tunes that shine a light on where we've been.What we get is a generous, thought-provoking mosaic of our musical heritage. As has been stated before, in the early days, there wasn't much discernible difference between how blacks and whites presented their music. This three-volume set of CD's stuffed near to overflowing with carefully restored songs, takes us back to that time and in doing so reminds us that no matter how richly varied the branches may be our roots are the same. Musical variety is truly a spice of life, which can best be appreciated when the universal foundation of our brother- and sisterhood is kept squarely in sight. A very grateful thank you to Yazoo for tending the flame."
Great music, good but biased liners
lonesome_d | Yo Philly | 11/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Love the music - had duplicates of some tracks from the Harry Smith set & elsewhere, but much was new to me, especially the non-blues string band tunes. Highlight might be 'Deep Blue Sea Blues,' which I'd of course always associated with Muddy's 'Catfish Blues' from later; terrific version included here.
Only negative comment on the liner notes is the clear aim to present an argument that white music had a bigger influence on early black music than frequently allotted. Not that I disagree with the point, but the way it's brought home made me feel a bit like they were pointing out _every time_ a black performer sounded 'white,' but in the case of the white performers, their race is almost never mentioned.
All in all though made me rethink my ideas on the origins of blues music, on how blues went from being a song form to a genre, on the influence of 'country' on blues, and the co-existence of blues along with various other less celebrated black traditions in the 1920s."