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Lead Belly's Last Sessions

Box Set

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, September 25, 1994
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The press release calls this "The most famous and sought-after blues & folk recordings ever made"; these 96 tracks (two unissued) have inspired American artists as diverse as Neil Young and William Styron. Nearly all of Leadbelly's most famous songs are here- Rock Island Line; Midnight Special; Goodnight, Irene; Easy Rider , etc.-plus gripping storytelling, all recorded on tape in 1948 for the only time in his career (hence better fidelity and uninterrupted recording). These four CDs come in a limited edition slipcase with extensive notes, rare photos, bio and discography.


Leadbelly's Last Sessions is a remarkable document. Recorded over the course of three nights in 1948, approximately one year before his death, Sessions constitutes the only commercial recordings of Leadbelly ever made on magnetic tape. The sound here is still primitive by most standards, but it's a vast improvement over the quality of his earlier sides. On this four-disc collection, Huddie Ledbetter sets down as much of his repertoire as he could, from field hollers, blues, and country & western songs to children's tunes, ballads, autobiographical pieces, and popular hits of the day. The tape continues to roll between takes, catching Leadbelly's shifts of moods and changes of interest. He didn't know these would be his last recordings, of course, but he seems to have saved something special for these performances, which are as freewheeling, charming, and authoritative as anything he ever recorded. --Daniel Durchholz

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Yes, I Was Standing In The Bottom
  2. Yes, I'm Going Down To Louisiana
  3. I Ain't Going Down To The Well No More
  4. Dick Ligger's Holler
  5. Miss Liza Jane
  6. Dog Latin Song
  7. Leaving Blues
  8. Go Down, Old Hannah
  9. Blue Tail Fly
  10. Nobody In This World Is Better Than Us
  11. We're In The Same Boat, Brother
  12. Looky, Looky Yonder
  13. Jolly O' The Ransom
  14. Old Ship Of Zion
  15. Bring Me A Little Water, Silver
  16. Mistreatin' Mamma
  17. Black Betty
  18. Ain't Going Down To The Well No More
  19. I'm Going Back Down In Louisiana
  20. I Don't Know You, What Have I Done
  21. Rock Island Line
  22. Old Man, Will Your Dog Catch A Rabbit?
  23. Shorty George
  24. Stewball
  25. Bottle Up & Go
  26. You Know I Got To Do It
  27. Ain't It A Shame To Go Fishing On A Sunday
  28. I Ain't Gonna Drink Anymore
  29. Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
  30. My Lindy Lou
  31. I'm Thinking Of A Friend
  32. He Never Said A Mumbling Word
  33. I Don't Want No More Of Army Life
  34. In The World
  35. I Want To Go Home

Disc: 2

  1. New Iberia
  2. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes
  3. John Henry
  4. Salty Dog
  5. National Defense Blues
  6. Easy, Mr. Tom
  7. Relax Your Mind
  8. Bottle Up And Go
  9. Polly Wolly Wee
  10. Pig Latin Song (2nd Version)
  11. Hawaiian Song
  12. Drinkin' Lum Y A Alla
  13. The Grey Goose
  14. Silver City Bound
  15. The Titanic
  16. Death Letter Blues
  17. Mary Don't You Weep
  18. He Never Said A Mumbling Word

Disc: 3

  1. Midnight Special
  2. Boll Weevil Song
  3. Careless Love
  4. Easy Rider
  5. Cry For Me
  6. Ain't Going To Drink No More (De Kalb Blues)
  7. Birmingham Jail
  8. Old Riley
  9. Julie Ann Johnson
  10. It's Tight Like That
  11. 4, 5 & 9
  12. Good Morning Babe, How Do You Do?
  13. Jail House Blues
  14. Well, You Know I Had To Do It
  15. Irene
  16. 25 Cent Dude
  17. How Come You Do Me Like You Do?
  18. Hello Central
  19. Hesitation Blues
  20. I'll Be Down On The Last Bread Wagon

Disc: 4

  1. Somebody's Diggin' My Potatoes
  2. Springtime In The Rockies
  3. Chinatown
  4. Rock Island Line
  5. Backwater Blues
  6. Sweet Mary
  7. Irene
  8. Easy, Mr. Tom
  9. In The Evening, When The Sun Goes Down
  10. I'm Alone Because I Love You
  11. House Of The Rising Sun
  12. Mary Don't You Weep
  13. Talk About Fannin Street
  14. Fannin Street
  15. Sugared The Beer
  16. Didn't Old John Cross The Water
  17. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
  18. Bully Of The Town
  19. Sweet Jenny Lee
  20. Yellow Gal
  21. He Was The Man
  22. We're In The Same Boat, Brother
  23. Leaving Blues

Product details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 1994)
  • Original Release Date: September 25, 1994
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • 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: Smithsonian Folkways
  • ASIN: B000001DJC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,421 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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12 customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

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