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Black Betty

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Album Review

Leadbelly recorded 40 sides in New York City in 1935 for the American Record Corporation (ARC), and only six of these, spread over three singles, were issued at the time. The song selection was skewed toward the blues, the market that ARC was interested in, and while a certain portion of Leadbelly's immense repertoire was blues-related, he was really an entirely different kind of performer and it probably is no big surprise that the singles released from these sessions failed to spark much interest. This intriguing set collects 25 of the ARC recordings, plus the title track, "Black Betty," which was actually recorded a little over a decade later in 1948. Somewhat harder-edged than his more famous recordings for Moses Asch, these tracks still fit the same template, and in retrospect, bridge the gap between his first field recordings for John and Alan Lomax and the later work he did for Folkways. Highlights include "Black Betty," which has gone on to have a long history as a rock staple, and fairly unassuming pieces like "Honey, I'm All Out and Down," "Ox Drivin' Blues," "You Can't Lose Me, Charlie," and the driving "Alberta."

Customer Reviews

Ignore first review

Ignore the first review. This version of black Betty is after all the original, written by Leadbelly himself. So although it may be different to the newer rock orientated versions, it's still the original and therefore arguably the best.


Worst version of "Black Betty" I've ever heard


Born: 20 January 1888 in Mooringsport, LA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '10s, '20s, '30s, '40s

Huddie Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly, was a unique figure in the American popular music of the 20th century. Ultimately, he was best remembered for a body of songs that he discovered, adapted, or wrote, including "Goodnight, Irene," "Rock Island Line," "The Midnight Special," and "Cotton Fields." But he was also an early example of a folksinger whose background had brought him into direct contact with the oral tradition by which folk music was handed down, a tradition that, by the early years of...
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