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Anthology Of American Folk Music Volume 4 (Edited By Harry Smith)

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Audio CD, November 1, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music , which Revenant reissued last year, was the touchstone for countless folk and rock artists in the '60s; now the label has put together another 28 tracks of seminal early folk sides! Includes Parchman Farm Blues Bukka White; Dog and Gun (An Old English Ballad) Bradley Kincaid; John Henry Was a Little Boy J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers; Packin' Trunk Leadbelly; Milk Cow Estes John Estes; Dans Le Grand Bois (In the Forest) Hackberry Ramblers, and more.

Originally released in 1952, Harry Smith's landmark three-volume Anthology of American Folk Music literally instigated a revolution in music--suddenly, this collection of scratchy 78 sides made "folk" cool again (it would stay that way forever after). But Smith--filmmaker, guru, and alchemist--originally intended for a fourth volume of the set to be created. Thanks to Revenant, we have it now--nearly five decades after its gathering. Smith's two-CD collection takes works from the Blue Sky Boys, the Carter Family, Bukka White, Robert Johnson, and a dozen or so forgotten blues and old-time artists, mostly from the '20s and '30s. In the copious liner notes, the late Smith confesses that this volume was "lost" because his original liner notes went missing; he had hoped to create a thorough analysis of how each song's theme was interrelated. Thus, there are some truly great transitions--"John Henry Was a Little Boy" by J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers leads ironically into "Nine Pound Hammer Is Too Heavy" by the Monroe Brothers; Lead Belly's breakup ode "Packin' Trunk" segues into Big Joe Williams's "Baby Please Don't Go." Gorgeous packaging and thorough liner notes by Dick Spottswood, Greil Marcus, Ed Sanders, and others makes this set even more essential. Like so many of the musicians he admired and promoted, Harry Smith's real genius wouldn't be recognized till after he died. Here it is, folks. --Jason Verlinde

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Memphis Shakedown - Memphis Jug Band
  2. Dog And Gun (An Old English Ballad) - Bradley Kincaid
  3. Black Jack David - The Carter Family
  4. Down On The Banks Of The Ohio - Blue Sky Boys
  5. Adieu False Heart - Arthur Smith Trio
  6. John Henry Was A Little Boy - J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers
  7. Nine Pound Hammer Is Too Heavy - Monroe Brothers
  8. Southern Casey Jones - Jesse James
  9. Cold Iron Bed - Jack Kelly And His South Memphis Jug Band
  10. Packin' Trunk - Lead Belly
  11. Baby Please Don't Go - Joe Williams' Washboard Blues Singers
  12. Last Fair Deal Gone Down - Robert Johnson
  13. Parchman Farm Blues - Bukka White
  14. Mean Old World - Heavenly Gospel Singers

Disc: 2

  1. Hello Stranger - The Carter Family
  2. Stand By Me - Sister Clara Hudmon
  3. West Virginia Gals - Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters
  4. How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live? - Blind Alfred Reed
  5. Wreck Of The Tennessee Gravy Train - Uncle Dave Macon
  6. Governor Al Smith - Uncle Dave Macon
  7. Milk Cow Blues - John Estes
  8. No Depression In Heaven - The Carter Family
  9. I'll Be Rested (When The Roll Is Called) - Roosevelt Graves And Brother
  10. He's In The Ring (Doing The Same Old Thing) - Memphis Minnie
  11. The Cockeyed World - Minnie Wallace
  12. Barbecue Bust - Mississippi Jook Band
  13. Dans Le Grand Bois (In The Forest) - Hackberry Ramblers
  14. Aces' Breakdown - The Four Aces

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 1, 2005)
  • Original Release Date: November 1, 2005
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Revenant Records
  • ASIN: B00004SUA0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,638 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Volume 4 fits very well with the previous three. There are a lot of old-time music anthologies out there these days but there's something going on with Mr. Smith's work that seems to be lacking in the others. I find all of the tracks of Vol-4 to be memorable performances. The Leadbelly cut particularly sticks in my mind, but on another day I might single out any of the others as well.
The accompanying notes are extensive & well-presented although it's black ink on dark brown paper in tiny font, so the reading can be tough. And you are paying for the presentation in the pricetag.
I was half-expecting to be disappointed by this album because the earlier release was so important to me, but it turns out that this one makes for great listening as well i.e. it has the elusive 'HS-factor' going for it too. If you are the type of person who got changed by the 3-Volume Folkways Anthology, then you will dig Volume 4. Really, it's been a rumor for so long .. it's incredible that it is now generally available.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. Hilton on July 28, 2001
Format: Audio CD
It's hard to imagine that anything could be better than the original Folkways box set (Volumes 1-3), but this album is. Everything I love about V1-3, there is even more of here. The eerie juxtaposition of darkness and jubilation pretty much sums up the whole 20th Century in an hour and a half. Yes, it's short and pricey, but better in my mind to preserve Smith's original vision - after all, he scuttled the original release of this album in order to stay true to that vision.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark S. Kuniya on June 12, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I was rather ecstatic when I came across this collection at a used CD shop. The two CD set contains some very important American folk music from 1935 depression. For completists out there or just pure fans of folk music, VOL.4 is a must have. There are more selections by the Carter Family, as well as some very fine jug band pieces. This collection gives listeners a stronger glimpse into the vision that Harry Smith was reaching toward in Vol 1-3. Add this to your collection ASAP.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Otterstrom on June 20, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Thanks to John Fahey and The Harry Smith Archives 'The Anthology' has now been respectfully completed (sans Harry's original liner notes and design). Volume 4 is a well qualified supplement to 'Smithsonian Folkways' volumes 1 through 3, and is very close to what Harry originally intended. The Monroe Brothers, The Carter Family, The Memphis Jug Band, Leadbelly, Sleepy John Estes, Bukka White, Uncle Dave Macon, Robert Johnson---the forgotten folk masters who became American icons after Harry shared his record collection with us in 1952---are represented here with outstanding performances. Not to mention the several artists you possibly haven't heard---just revel in the acapella beauty of The Heavenly Gospel Singers 'Mean Old World'. Aside from wondrous historic music 'Volume 4' is another loving tribute to the eccentric genius of the irascible Harry Smith. Without this offering, you certainly don't have the entire 'Anthology', and although the packaging doesn't match the Smithsonian set, it is very nicely done---just don't try to put it in your plastic CD rack. If you're into your folk roots don't miss this one!
Jim Otterstrom
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William E. Adams on January 14, 2013
Format: Audio CD
As a folk fan since I was 14 and encountered "Tom Dooley" by the Kingston Trio (1958) I had heard ABOUT Smith's anthology early on, but never actually heard "it." Now I've heard Volume IV, at least. For the first time in my hobby of reviewing music and books and the occasional film for Amazon, I think all nine reviews here and each of the comments, too, are worth reading. Almost every statement seems valid, even the contradictory ones. In the end, though, if someone is going to purchase this two-CD set, it will be because they have a desire to hear and own a great sampling of '30's and '40's "Americana" records. I developed that affection quite slowly, as the Kingston Trio led me to Guthrie, and the Clancy Brothers, and to traditional lyrics and earlier, less commercial performers. Each stream I followed over the past 50 years led to discovering new creeks and ponds and swamps. Now I own some Jimmie Rodgers, and a ton of Carter Family, and some Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt, and I've heard the early records of many artists who did not earn lasting fame, except perhaps in Smith's collection. Disc One here has "Black Jack David" by the Carters, "Banks of the Ohio" by the Blue Sky Boys, and "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" by Johnson, along with 11 other oldies. Disc Two is even better, with fine performances of "Hello Stranger" by the Carters, and "Stand By Me" by Sister Clara. I really dig "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" by Blind Alfred Reed. I had been fascinated by that title for decades, but never heard the song until this week. Uncle Dave Macon's "Wreck of the Tennessee Gravy Train" sounds like a commentary on the current debt fights between the White House and Congress, and the Carters return with "No Depression in Heaven.Read more ›
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tribe on October 9, 2000
Format: Audio CD
it's an excellent collection. I mean, for about the price of two of these you can almost buy the original 6-CD Anthology. Fortunately, the songs are beautiful, and like the original Anthology, way weird. The Carter Family cuts are scary in their dead-pan beauty; Bukka White's Parchman Farm Blues is one of the saddest blues ever and the Blue Sky Boys' On the Bank of the Ohio is sort of like Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me meets Bill Monroe. A great selection.
Is it worth the hefty price though?
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