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Country Blues: Complete Early Recordings

4.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 17, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

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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

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sugar Baby
  2. Down Home Blues
  3. Country Blues
  4. Sammie, Where Have You Been So Long?
  5. Danville Girl
  6. Pretty Polly
  7. New Prisoner's Song
  8. Hard Luck Blues
  9. Lost Love Blues
  10. Will Sweethearts Know Each Other There?
  11. Old Rub Alcohol Blues
  12. False Hearted Lover's Blues
  13. Lost Love Blues (Unissued Alternate Take #1)
  14. Will Sweethearts Know Each Other There? (Unissued Alternate Take #1)
  15. Old Rub Alcohol Blues (Sole Unissues Alternate Take)
  16. Lost Love Blues (Unissued Alternate Take #2)
  17. Will Sweethearts Know Each Other There? (Unissued Alternate Take #2)
  18. Peddler & His Wife - Dock Boggs/Hayes Shepherd
  19. Hard For To Love - Dock Boggs/Hayes Shepherd
  20. Bound Steel Blues - Dock Boggs/Bill Shephard
  21. Aunt Jane Blues - Dock Boggs/Bill Shephard


Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 17, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: 1927
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Revenant Records
  • ASIN: B000001Z3Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,129 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. B Pepper on October 22, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This cd is simply vicious and uncompromising; in the same way as the music of Robert Johnson, Leadbelly, Blind Willie Johnson, Skip James etc. Dock Boggs plays his banjo in a bluesy fashion, as opposed to a purely old-timey (what would later become known as bluegrass) style. For me, the standout tracks on this magnificent piece of heartaching white blues and country, are "Country Blues," "Danville Girl," "Sammie, Where You Been So Long?," "Lost Love Blues" and "New Prisoner's Song." However, each track on this album deserves at least a 7 out of 10. Just from looking at the lyrics to this album on Long Time Coming, which is an excellent site on Dock Boggs, one can determine that this album is a real killer. The only complaint I have about this album is that I don't believe the lyrics are given to the last 4 tunes. Boggs has recorded material from the 1960's that is available, and while I haven't heard it yet, I can't imagine it being any more potent, striking, guttural, or visceral than these tracks. Five Stars.
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Format: Audio CD
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.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
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...
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Format: Audio CD
This release was almost willed into existence, firstly by the attention given to the singer by Greil Marcus in 'Invisible Republic', his 1997 study of Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes and their dependence on the 1952 Folkways Anthology, and secondly by the re-release of that Anthology on CD and the subsequent singling out for special praise of the two Boggs songs it included. Although Boggs's original twelve recordings have been available on a Folkways album for some time, this CD, with all known alternate takes as well as contributions from associated musicians, contains much more.

Moran Lee 'Dock' Boggs was a coal miner from Virginia who played banjo and sang with a strong nasal twang some of the most intensely haunting white blues of the 1920s, rivalling many a black blues singer in fervour and pain. There is a strong sense of more ancient traditions, both white and black, in his performances. He listened to the recordings of black singers, such as Rosa Henderson and Sara Martin, and adapted some of their songs, including 'Down South Blues', 'Sugar Blues' and 'Mistreated Mama Blues', into his own repertoire. Others, like 'Pretty Polly', 'Danville Girl', and 'Sammie, Where Have You Been So Long?', come from the white tradition.

Boggs recorded the first eight tracks on this album for Brunswick in 1927, accompanied on most songs by Hub Mahaffey on guitar. The following four songs, and the alternate takes, were recorded for the small Virginia label Lonesome Ace in 1929. Both 'Old Rub Alcohol Blues' and 'False Hearted Lover's Blues' from this date use the same tune as the more successful 'Country Blues'. Boggs was backed on this session by the guitar of Emry Arthur, who composed and recorded 'Man Of Constant Sorrow' for Paramount in 1929, a song covered by Dylan on his first album.
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Format: Audio CD
Dock Boggs' banjo and voice are perhaps the most hypnotic ever recorded. He lays it all on the line, hides nothing--his music is brutally honest and sincere. There is a song on this collection called "Will Sweethearts Know Each Other There?" that could be the most beautiful song ever written. He performs as though he doesn't care who likes it, as though he does it because he HAS to just to survive and get through the day. The packaging and interviews in the liner notes amplify the raw power of the recordings. Better than a crawl through the spookiest attic.
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