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American Primitive, Vol. 1: Raw Pre-War Gospel (1926-36)

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 21, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

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Ignore the low fidelity of this 26-track compendium, and you have one of the most interesting gospel compilations ever released. Most of these songs were recorded among a variety of "race" labels between 1926 and 1936, mostly for Paramount and Vocalion. Copious liner notes provide the needed details for each track, along with an essay by label chief/folk legend John Fahey. Soundwise, some of these tunes are indeed primitive--there are more hisses and pops than a Mongolian BBQ. But underneath the surface noises, in tracks by Elder J.J. Hadley (a.k.a. Charley Patton), Washington White (a.k.a. Bukka White), and Blind Roosevelt Graves, there's something magical. Apparently, '26 to '36 saw a newfound interest in sacred street singers that, in turn, inspired record labels to hire blues artists to work under aliases. Whatever the motivation, these tracks are testimonies to a nearly lost era of great musicianship. --Jason Verlinde
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 21, 1997)
  • Original Release Date: October 17, 1997
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Revenant Records
  • ASIN: B000001Z3Z
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,556 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Revenant has issued some of the best old music compilations: Dock Boggs' "Country Blues," the Stanley Brothers' first recordings, the Anthology of American Folk Music Vol. 4 (not to mention the upcoming super-definitive collection of Charley Patton recordings: "Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues). Great, obscure music, and inventive, eye-catching packaging.
This compilation is no exception. This is the most astounding collection of old-time gospel and sacred music ever compiled. From the bone-shattering sacred songs of Charley Patton (as the Elder J.J. Hadley) to the sublime Blind Roosevelt Graves to the strange Rev. I. B. Ware.....there is simply no weak tune here. The title isn't misleading: this is as raw as you can get. Sanctified and rockin' and spine-tingling, this is simply one great album!
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By A Customer on July 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I did. If this one might be better than "The Half Ain't Never Been Told" then it must be essential. It is. This disc will snap your head back. Powerful no nonsense music. American roots music, oh baby that's one thing we did absolutely right.
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By A Customer on November 25, 1998
Format: Audio CD
As soon as I saw the picture of Charley Patton on the cover, and then saw that it was compiled by John Fahey, I knew this was going to be something special. When I brought it home and listened to it I was so overwhelmed that I had to wait a full day before I could listen to it again. Some of the musicians on the CD are old favorites, but most of them are obscure. Very powerful stuff here. One can only hope that Fahey and Co. have more gems like these in the vault. In the meantime, this is one CD that deserves to be listened to over and over.
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By A Customer on October 2, 1998
Format: Audio CD
A group of wonderful authentic tracks dug up and given the fresh air they deserve. Want to escape passionless singers, slick musicians and mindless mass market music? Here is a great great start. Extra Kudos to Revenant for producing the most beautiful packages to ever contain a cd. Many Stars!
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Format: Audio CD
Albums like this make me feel great and really bummed out at the same time. Great because this music is as pure, raw and unpop as you can get, just amazingly real, but bummed because real music like this is gone and dead. At least we have these records of a time before proffesionalism and corporations destroyed music (and everyother art form).

I don't beleive in god or religion, but this is still one of my fave cds, heck if there was music like this in churches nowadays, i'd be going to church all the time. So don't let the term Gospel turn you off, this doesn't sound like Gospel, it's only gospel cause they mention jesus once and a while.
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