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Country Legends: Charlie Poole

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Album Review

With 80 tracks spread over four CDs, this is a remarkable budget-priced collection, covering not only the tracks Charlie Poole recorded with his band, the North Carolina Ramblers, but also cuts that bandmembers laid down separately. The hits are all here, beginning with 1925's "Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues," which sold a staggering 100,000 copies. Poole himself was a superb banjo player, and takes delight in demonstrating it on tracks like "Leaving Home." But he was also a troubled soul, prone to prolonged bouts of drinking, which led bandmembers to record without him on tracks such as Roy Harvey's "Dark Eyes" and Posey Rorer's "As We Sat Beneath the Maple on the Hill." It's all a lesson in the evolution of string band music — roaring, emotional, and quite lovely — the forerunner of bluegrass. Ineffably Southern, the music charms, but also astonishes with technical ability that has stood the test of time. A low price, and an absolute musical bargain.


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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