Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Hard Times Come Again No More 1
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, World Music, Pop
For poor, rural Americans who lived in the first third of the century, the Great Depression just added insult to injury. The economic boom of the '20s skipped over many who worked the land. Volume one of this illustrative ... more »
For poor, rural Americans who lived in the first third of the century, the Great Depression just added insult to injury. The economic boom of the '20s skipped over many who worked the land. Volume one of this illustrative and entertaining two-CD series from Yazoo gathers songs recorded before and after the market crash of 1929. A few familiar names surface (Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Uncle Dave Macon), and a handful of songs may ring a bell (the Bentley Boys' "Down on Penny's Farm" provided the outline for Bob Dylan's "Hard Times in New York Town" and Ry Cooder revived Blind Afred Reed's "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live"). Most of this surface-scratched material, however, has been gathering dust for decades. It's good to have these tales of woe back in circulation, if only as a reminder that hard times can never be relegated to history books. --Steven Stolder
Yet another welcome Yazoo reissue
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The model for anthologies like this one is the classic HarrySmith "Anthology of American Folk Music," issued in 1952 andreissued in 1997 (by Smithsonian/Folkways). But of course the well of commercially recorded traditional music from the 1920s and 1930s is much deeper, and Yazoo's ongoing series of themed reissues, of which this is just the latest, continues to document the sounds of that golden age of homegrown music. "Hard Times," both volumes of it, dazzles us with treasures -- ballads, blues, gospel shouts, darkly comic songs -- set in frontier, mountain, Delta, and Depression landscapes and celebrating the resilience of human beings even in the worst of circumstances. A handful of songs will be familiar to old-time music buffs (e.g., the Bentley Boys' "Down on Penny's Farm," the Dixon Brothers' "Weaver's Life"), but most will be new even to experienced listeners. There's not a bad cut here. Keep 'em coming, Yazoo."
Good album, skimpy notes
Frank Allen Blissett III | 08/24/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is a good cross-section of rural depression era music. The highlights (IMHO) were "Hard Times Come Again No More" by the Graham Brothers and "Serves 'Em Fine" by Dave McCarn. There's not much more I can add about the music which has not been covered by other reviews. The liner notes, on the other hand, are skimpy at best. There is absolutely no discographical information, and only casual mention to even the years the songs were recorded in. Likewise, I found biographical information lacking. The CD is a great one to just toss in your car CD player on a road trip, but I'm someone who likes to know the precise time and place of an archived song so as to put it in its historical perspective. Likewise, I'm the kind of guy who listens to a song and says "Ohh! Who's that on fiddle?". I'm glad to have bought the CD, but I'll continue to mine catalogs of the likes of County records and Document records."
The "First Wave" Great Depression
Alfred Johnson | boston, ma | 03/05/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This review covers both volumes of this two-part CD set.
Yes, I am aware that the 1930's Great Depression was not the first depression that this country had faced but it was the first in which the United States, as a world power anointed by its successes in World War I, created worldwide economic chaos in its wake. However we will leave aside economic history and concentrate on today's impeding great depression, as the daily news most painfully reminds us seems to be coming. Today I want to discuss what to do about that eventually in the short haul. Obviously, in the long haul we have to fight for a more rational system based on production (and distribution) for need, not for profit. In the meantime what are all of our fellow unemployed to do- right now! Well, now we do have to look back at history, and at least with a little tongue-in-cheek. Back in the 1930's its seems that on every corner of every town and village one found an "Apple Annie" selling her apples for a nickel to survive or a "Pencil Slim" hawking his pencils for spare change. Tough times indeed. And to while away that long lonely, sometimes empty-handed, vigil many times they sang songs to get attention.
This brings us to the two volume CD set under review that contains some forty-six songs, almost solely from the rural southern part of the United States. The set features themes of hard times, harder times and then the merely desperate ones. For poor blacks and whites alike. The milieu covered in this set appears to be away from the Mississippi Delta that created the country blues and rather are songs from places like Arkansas (that takes a beating in a couple of songs here that will not sit well with Chamber of Commerce-types), North Carolina and Georgia. The jobs, or lack of jobs complained of, run from small unsuccessful tenant farming and sharecropping fighting off the boll weevil and, as several songs make clear, the Boll Weevil landlord or his agents to cheap labor in the textile mills. The instruments used, to my ear, include simple guitar (especially whatever odd-stringed one , as usual, Joe Williams has concocted on "Providence Helps The Poor People"), fiddles galore (a staple of country music and a real plus when, as here, some of the vocals, are reedy), mandolin, washboard, harmonica and whatever else could make noise cheaply with what was at hand.
Clearly with forty- six songs to choose from the quality, even on a Yazoo production that prides itself on both inclusiveness and getting the best sounds possible (and excellent liner notes as well), is uneven. However the following stand out here; obviously the Joe Williams tune mentioned above; Sleepy John Estes on "Down South Blues"; Blind Blake on "No Dough Blues"; Blind Lemon Jefferson on the classic "One Dime Blues" (f you could have put his voice together with Etta Baker's guitar version you would have an incredible sound on that one); Mississippi John Hurt on "Blue Harvest Blues"; and The Graham Brothers on the title track "Hard Times Come Again No More" (an old Stephen Foster tune from the 1840's so there is nothing new about hard times).
All of those names above have been mentioned before in this space and reflect their then emergence as country performers. However there is a second layer of performers here that intrigue me and bear further listening. Of that group The Bentley Boys on the now well-known "Down On Penny's Farm" sticks out (a song, by the way, that Bob Dylan used as an idea for his early "Talking New York Blues"). Another is Blind Alfred Reed on "How Can A Poor Man Stand" as is the great guitarist Barbecue Bob on "We Sure Got Hard Times". There are not many women on these CDs but Samantha Bumgarner is fine on "Georgia Blues". The real sleeper on this whole compilation however is Elder Curry & His Congregation whooping it up on a gospelly "Hard Times". Okay, so now you have the songs that you can sing on those lonely street corners. Now all you need is some apples or pencils. Hard times come again no more, indeed.