(1936-42) (74:43/25) Original field recordings made by John A. and Ruby T. Lomax, Alan Lomax, Lewis Jones, and Herbert Halpert.
The field recordings made from 1936 to 1942 for the Library of Congress by John and Ruby Lomax, with their son Alan, showed that much of America's finest music and poetry have come from far beyond the entertainment and publishing industries. In the case of these stirring selections from the Lomax archives, among this country's richest cultural resources was the black population enslaved on southern plantations and penal farms. Evident here are echoes of lost worlds--the eerie sounding call of a Mississippi ferryman, the mystery of Charlie Butler's stunning "Diamond Joe," and the fierce spirituality of "If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down" by Reverend C.H. Savage and congregation. Most extraordinary are the performances by Sid Hemphill, who Alan Lomax said was his greatest discovery. Playing the ancient pre-harmonica quills or panpipes, whooping with primal fervor, his ingenious "Emmaline, Take Your Time" anticipates Hemphill's unreleased fife-and-drum masterpiece, "The Devil's Dream." --Alan Greenberg