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Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order, Vol. 7 (1947-1949)

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Album Review

The six earlier volumes in Austrian reissue label Document Records' unlicensed series of albums featuring Leadbelly's commercial recordings are given the date range of 1939 to 1947. But this seventh volume runs up to the year of Leadbelly's death, 1949, after having started with a couple of airchecks from a broadcast of the This Is Jazz radio series from June 14, 1947 ("Green Corn" and "John Henry"). These tracks are followed by four recorded for the Library of Congress, and the rest of the album consists of more radio broadcasts or concert performances that were issued on LPs by Folkways Records or, in the case of the last two, "Old Ship of Zion" and "I Will Be So Glad When I Get Home," from Playboy Records' album of one of the singer's last concert at the University of Texas on June 15, 1949. This is not really a "complete" account of Leadbelly's last couple of years of recording, since it deliberately excludes the material from the Folkways albums of Leadbelly's Last Sessions, because Smithsonian Folkways has reissued those tracks on CD recently. Rather, this is a kind of addendum of odds and ends. Still, it does present mature performances of some of Leadbelly's better-known songs, including "Pick a Bale of Cotton," "Go Down, Old Hannah," "Take This Hammer," and "Good Morning Blues." Of course, by the time of the University of Texas show, he was suffering from the effects of Lou Gehrig's disease, which would kill him in December, and he was joined by his wife, Martha, on the two spirituals, apparently included here because they were left off a CD reissue of the album by Magnum in Europe. Surface noise is audible on many tracks, but the overall sound is good.


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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