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Country Blues: Complete Early Recordings
Dock Boggs
Country Blues: Complete Early Recordings
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, World Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #1

With his dark genius lauded by the literary likes of Greil Marcus in this compilation's accompanying 64-page hardcover booklet, Dock Boggs is remembered as a grim and tortured man who barely managed to save his soul with a...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Dock Boggs
Title: Country Blues: Complete Early Recordings
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: Revenant Records
Original Release Date: 1/1/2027
Re-Release Date: 2/17/1998
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, World Music, Pop
Styles: Classic Country, Traditional Blues, Traditional Folk, North America, Appalachian
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 630814020521

With his dark genius lauded by the literary likes of Greil Marcus in this compilation's accompanying 64-page hardcover booklet, Dock Boggs is remembered as a grim and tortured man who barely managed to save his soul with a banjo and a handful of songs. Originally recorded in the late 1920s, this collection illuminates the history of murder ballads like "Pretty Polly" from their origins in the English countryside to their more contemporary expressions (see "Polly" by Nirvana). While Boggs experienced popularity when these recordings were made, he retired from music for more than 30 years until being "rediscovered" in the early 1960s. Along with 12 classic Boggs performances, Country Blues includes five unreleased outtakes and four cuts with Dock as an instrumental sideman. --Mitch Myers

CD Reviews

Blues is Old Timey, Old times is blues, boggs is great
Tony Thomas | SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FL USA | 10/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Dock Bogg's music is typical of old time music by white appalachian performers, particularly banjo players. They are playing an African instrument, transmitted into their area by African Americans, their repetoire ranges into blues, their musical styles on the instruments even in non-blues are influenced by blues music. They lived in a society where the formal racial separation of Jim Crow Segregation and Lynch law existed because of the actual integration of the lives and cultures of white and black workers and farmers and above all musicians was greater than what we have today.

Dock Boggs was quite explicit. He recalled the names of the black banjo players he saw in childhood who played banjo finger style, rather than in the claw hammer style that his brothers played. From childhood he wanted to play like them. Many of the tunes he recorded he said he got from listening to Black blues records. Some tunes, like "Down South Blues" he learned from female classic blues records that were more in the lineage of Jazz, than acoustic blues. Anyone who cares to read the many interviews with Boggs that have been published or listen to the cds and lps of his memories can learn about this.

Bogg's skills as a singer, as a banjo player, and, above all, as a performer who throws himself entirely into his songs,are unique. But the mixture of African and European American music he represents is hardly unique.

He may collide with the rather false, sometime boring, washed white fantasies about old time white country music nourished by folkies and post folkies and with what white racists who cling to as something purely "white," but Boggs' bluesyness is part of being real old time and not a suburban 60-90s fantasy of old time life.

What about the other great finger picking discovery of old-time banjo playing, Roscoe Holcomb. When he was rediscovered though Holcomb's repetoire included all kinds of music played on banjo, guitar, harmonic, and fiddle, he said he was a blues singer and one of the better ones around his area of Kentucky!

The mixture is real. If you go back and listen to say the Carter family (who added to the Carter Scratch guitar style Maybelle Carter originated, finger style blues and slide playing Maybelle learned from African American blues singer Leslie Riddle who traveled with AP Carter collecting songs and lived with the Carter Family for a time) or to Bill Monroe (who along with fellow western Kentuckian Merle Travis learned much of his music from Black bluesman Arnold Schultz) they sound so much blusier, so much more black influenced, than the Allison Krauses and Nickel Creeks reared in suburbia and not the world of racial cultural mix that Dock Boggs comes from.

Just a point of fact, Bogg's banjo style is closer to bluegrass than most other banjo players of his time. Many of Boggs's contemporaries including his older banjo playing brother were frailers of various kinds, whereas Boggs was a finger picker for the most part. Bluegrass banjo involves precisely adding in the bluesier licks and sounds to the music in an systematic fashion. It is a finger style with just the kind of synchopation that Boggs was a master of, although not exactly what Boggs does here.

On the other hand, Boggs's banjo playing is very strongly influenced by the white parlor guitar and classic banjo stylings, whereas bluegrass in my opinion after the suggestions of my friend Allen Feldman, comes from styles of North Carolina finger picking that descend from clawhammer banjo. Boggs eschewed clawhammer and doesn't play any of those finger styles.

Get Out of the Graveyard
J. Kerr | 03/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Beautifully packaged treatment of Dock's 1920s recordings. Kind of a banjo flailing hillbilly Robert Johnson. Sidenote, I actually met Dock when I was a child, he was a friend of my pawpaw's. They worked in the coalmines together and was wild together back in the old days. I had no idea Dock even played an instrument until I read a book by Greil Marcus years later..."
Not for the faint of heart.
fluffy, the human being. | forest lake, mn | 04/04/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"well, this disc fascinates me. I didn't much care for it during my first listen. put it away for a few months & came back to it. by about the 3rd play it was striking a chord in me. this is not easy listening. not by a long shot. if you are going to succeed in liking this cd, you are going to have to have a certain level of tolerance for unusual voices. this man was no honey-throated songbird. usually i have a hard time describing unique voices with words, but in this case it seems easy: when mr boggs sings he sounds like an alcoholic uncle whom you would not trust around your children. i realize this is not sounding like a high recommendation (i do like this disc - i gave it four stars), i just think you should have a clear idea of what you might be getting into here. this is rural folk music with a raw and vital vibe to it. though sounding drunk and demented mr boggs fascinates, and he plays a mean banjo, to boot. lots of excellent banjo on this disc. but back to that voice: i will insist that some of these old tunes are best suited by a voice such as this. take "pretty polly," for example. now, if you are not familiar with old mountain ballads, you might think "pretty polly," that sounds like a nice song; but, if you are familiar with these ballads, you will see that title and think "uh-oh! pretty polly is surely going to die." and of course, die she does. mr boggs sings about murdering her, and he sounds just right for the role. someone like say, oh, how about johnny mathis, could not pull this song off convincingly. this is a truly disturbing song and it deserves a distrubed sounding man to do it justice. now i know next to nothing about doc boggs, the man (i have not even read the lengthy linear notes that come with this disc). maybe he was a great fella. i hope so. but i am saying "he truly sounds like a rural maniac." so that's part of the reason that this disc now fascinates me. that and all the fine music on it. i don't really have time to go further with this now; i have a life and you have a life. we need to get on with things. buy this, or don't. thanks for hearing me out."