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Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, Vol. 2

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Album Review

County Records' second installment of Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers is another great testament to this seminal band: while most or all of Poole and the Ramblers' best-known songs are included on the earlier volume of Old Time Songs, the lesser-known tunes on this disc are every bit as entertaining, if often less familiar. The opening "If the River was Whiskey" (known in other circles as "Hesitation Blues") is one of the smoothest, most subtly infectious recordings of old-timey music available anywhere. True to the Ramblers' style, the playing and vocals are always spotlessly clean and brimming with good humor, the three musicians on each song interacting perfectly. Occasional banter between guitarist Roy Harvey and Poole adds nicely to the atmosphere without delving into gross stereotype or cheap laughs; unlike many of their contemporaries, this band consistently rejected the hillbilly image of the backwoods yokel, creating a music that is instead both sophisticated and inescapably country. Songs on this disc draw from traditional folk sources as well as Tin Pan Alley pop, with each piece rendered in the Ramblers' distinctive style. Sound quality is excellent throughout the compilation, which retains little evidence of the original 78 crackles and hisses; though the first volume of Old Time Songs may have the better song selection, its sound quality is sadly less consistent. All in all, this is a sturdy compilation from what is arguably the greatest string band in the annals of old-time recorded music.


Born: 22 March 1892 in Alamance County, NC

Genre: Country

Years Active: '20s, '30s

Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers were one of the most popular string bands of the 1920s. If they didn't have the foot-stomping exuberance of their chief competitors, Georgia's Skillet Lickers, they offered a debonair precision that was equally infectious. Infused with ragtime and pop, their music almost seemed to swing at times (even though the use of that word to describe music was still several years in the future). Poole strongly influenced later banjo players, including those who would...
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