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  • You Ain't Talkin' to Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music
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You Ain't Talkin' to Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music Box set, Original recording remastered

15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Original recording remastered, May 17, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

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It's fitting that this Charlie Poole box set comes in a beat-up cigar box. Enclosed are the stories, both in song and print, that serve to foreshadow a stereotypical hard-living country musician. Poole's tunes of gambling, girls, guns, and gin are real-world tales of a rambling drifter and fighter with a bum pickin' hand (broken on a drunken dare) and broken teeth (shot out during a run-in with the law).

The cover illustration by R. Crumb and the photos enclosed within hardly hint at Poole's being one of country music's earliest outlaws--rather, they portray him as a coiffed businessman-cum-banjo. It is in the three discs and the 35-page booklet that we begin to see a true picture of Charlie Poole. Though he didn't write the songs, he sang his rough-and-tumble life in the ones he chose: "Can I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight Mister?," "Husband and Wife Were Angry One Night," and "I'm the Man That Rode the Mule 'Round the World." These are songs of a simple and stubborn man in trying times. It's not all misery and strife though. The pure George Formby style of "Monkey on a String" hints at a lighter side. "Sunset March" (inspired by Fred van Eps's "Infanta March," also included in this set) may be the track that best gets at Poole's banjo style.


"Hellions both, the pair loved nothing more than traveling, raising Cain, playing music, and having a drink, and another tune, and another drink."
--Henry "Hank" Sapoznik on Poole and close friend Posey Wilson Rorrer (from the booklet)
It's not the lightning speed that the world would hear in the bluegrass greats, but a unique clawhammer arpeggio plucking style that comes across rough yet streetwise, like the player himself.

Not all the tracks in this set are performed by Poole, hence the subtitle ...and the Roots of Country Music. Also included are a couple dozen tracks recorded by Poole's mentors and contemporaries, giving excellent context to Poole's work. The term "bluegrass" was yet to be coined and the country outlaw profile was still a good 20 years away. It's surprising to learn that Charlie Poole only recorded and released records during a five-year period leading up to the hell-bent bender that led directly to his death at 39.

In terms of packaging, this box set is top-notch. The design, typography, and photographs are as genuine as the music. The booklet contains a brief introduction by Roanoke, Virginia, DJ Kinney Rorrer, whose father was close with Poole. Also included are accounts of Charlie's run-ins with hecklers, women, and the law, as well as an in-depth bio that surely contains the majority of what is known of his short life. Perhaps only Rorrer's out-of-print Rambling Blues: The Life and Songs of Charlie Poole reveals more about this grandfather of country music and godfather to country ruffians. --Peter Hilgendorf

Review

"'You Ain't Talkin' To Me' is long overdue. Go ahead and mark this one down for a Grammy." -- John Paul Keith, PERFORMING SONGWRITER

"...an indispensable new three-disc set ....This is music that has lost none of its power to confound or thrill." -- Kelefa Sanneh, NEW YORK TIMES

"...hillbilly chamber music...a quintessentially American mix of rawness and elegance." -- David Gates, NEWSWEEK

"An impressive, important and revelatory audio experience…" -- TORONTO STAR

"Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams get all the credit, but the father of country music may really be Poole...." -- DALLAS MORNING NEWS

"Listening to these recordings, you hear a confident singer in control of his musical destiny... History teaches many wondrous lessons." -- Chet Flippo CMT.COM

"Lord knows Charlie Poole deserves a box set....he helped transform country from traditional songs into commercial, recorded country music." -- John Morthland, NO DEPRESSION

"Sometimes recorded sound offers delayed immortality to the deserving. For Charlie Poole, 'You Ain't Talkin' to Me' does exactly that." -- Ted Anthony, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rating: **** "Poole's jazz-oriented flair for swinging rhythms shaped a style that blazed a trail to the future." -- Anthony DeCurtis ROLLING STONE

Rating: A -- Tom Sinclair, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY


Disc: 1
1. Shootin' Creek
2. Baltimore Fire
3. Leaving Home
4. There'll Come A Time
5. White House Blues
6. The Highwayman
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. The Girl I Left In Sunny Tennessee
2. Sunny Tennessee
3. Bulldog Down In Sunny Tennessee - Dock Walsh
4. Moving Day - Arthur Collins
5. It's Movin' Day
6. Home Sweet Home - Frank Jenkins
See all 25 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. If I Lose, I Don't Care
2. The Battleship Of Maine - Red Patterson's Piedmont Log Rollers
3. Budded Rose
4. Standing By A Window - Clay Everheart And The North Carolina Cooper Boys
5. Uncle Dave's Beloved Solo - Uncle Dave Macon
6. Come Take A Trip In My Airship - Billy Murray
See all 23 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 17, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set, Original recording remastered
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0009A1B8G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,130 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By 5 Steer Banjo on May 17, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I had heard about this set several months before it was released and I expected the typical major label treatment for the very important, but largely ignored, Charlie Poole. This box set has completely reversed my expectations. Not only was the artist well-represented in the set, but the design, the notes, and especially the remastering were topnotch! Previous collections from Sony/Legacy left me cold, particularly the dull, overcompensated and heavyhanded remastering (like the Bluegrass box that came out earlier). Not so with this collection! Most of the material on this set sounds far better than I have ever heard and many of the tracks sound like Charlie, Posey, and Roy are in the room with you. I did check the notes and it was no surprise that this is due, probably in large part, to the efforts of Chris King who has done remastering for County, Old Hat, Bear Family and others. In addition, the notes & selections of the producer, Hank Sapoznik, are really exceptional. He shows a rare interest and insight into both the music of Charlie Poole (and old-time music) and also the musicians from which Poole learned. Add to this the fact that the set itself is extremely well-designed and attractive in a nostalgic sense (it resembles an old cigar box)with cover art by R. Crumb and period-style CD sleeves. This is really one well thought out project and I'm glad I pre-ordered it. I highly recommend this to fans of old-time, bluegrass, and roots music.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J. Ross on May 25, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Comprised of three generous CDs with a total 72 tracks, this box set compiles music of Charlie Poole. In his book "Classic Country," Charles K. Wolfe relates an anecdote about a group of musicians pulling up to country store in Virginia in the late 1920s. Examining the watermelons, a jug-eared man asked the shopkeeper, "How much are those cucumbers? I'm down from North Carolina, and we have cucumbers bigger than these things." After introducing himself, Charlie Poole introduced himself, grabbed his banjo, and played a few tunes. The shopkeeper went into the back and returned with a half-gallon of prime moonshine. Stories are still told about Charlie today, and his songs are still sung today. Born in a textile mill town in 1892, the rough, unsettled and temperamental hard-living man was a skilled banjo picker, songwriter, and arranger of the old folk songs. Some of his songs are "Take a Drink on Me," "Hungry Hash House," and "Husband and Wife were Angry One Night." Liking a good fight, in "Coon from Tennessee," he sings about wanting to run a cemetery of his own.

Poole recorded 84 songs from 1925-31 for such companies as Columbia, Paramount and Brunswick. Joining him for his earliest New York sessions were fiddler Posey Rorer and guitarist Norman Woodlieff. "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down" would become a bluegrass standard. I don't see his other hit, "Can I Sleep in your Barn Tonight, Mister?" included in this compilation. After selling over 100,000 copies of the first disc (about five times the normal sales for a 1925 hit), the band released "The Man That Rode the Mule Around Town" and "The Girl I Left in Sunny Tennessee." Both selections are included on this CD set. Fingerstyle guitarist Roy Harvey replaced Woodlieff, and various hits followed.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Tony Thomas on November 15, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is the best collection of Charlie Poole to have. This was the product of a lot of serious research This collection was put together by a serious old time musician and historian, accompanied by extensive research into Poole's life.

Hank Sopoznick who put this together worked together with Kenny Rorrer and other descendants of the North Carolina Ramblers not only to issue this collection, but to organize a serious academic conference on Poole at UNC, to organize the republication of Rorrers book on Poole, and even to see that
Gibson would come out with a Charlie Poole memorial banjo. This collection has a lot more meaning than a bunch of the pirated collections issued with no concern for the heritage of this music.

Here, we not only have Poole's key recordings but also recordings of musicians who influenced him as well as of musicians who followed Poole's lead.

Poole's music was unique in that it was highly arranged, and showed strong influneces of ragtime and early jazz swing. While he did many traditional songs, and played square dance music in local shows, he included many songs out of the pop music of his times. He also had a unique sense of humor and fun in his times.

Poole was quite popular with the original old time music players of the late 1950s and early 1960s led by the New Lost City Ramblers who did a number of Poole songs. If you are like me, and got used to the sound of the NC Ramblers from the New Lost City Ramblers, you will find hearing the same songs by Poole much better, more swinging, and more fun.

The banjo playing here is unique and interesting. Poole plays a ragtimey finger picking style which anticipates bluegrass in its syncopation and in Poole's use of barred chords.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. W. Cook on August 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This collection is an absolute treasure for music buffs interested in exploring original talent and the music that deeply influenced bluegrass, folk and country. In many of the song selections, I heard the Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Jimmy Rogers, Leon Redbone, Flatt & Scruggs, Johnny Cash and many other modern day country artists. I heard banjo riffs that I had never heard before and could only have been created by truly innovative musicians. We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who had the vision to produce this masterpiece.
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