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The Library of Congress Recordings: Leadbelly - The Titanic, Vol. 4


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Album Review

Part of the Lomax collection of Leadbelly recordings, this set focuses on Library of Congress recordings made between 1939 and 1943, after the singer had exiled himself from the South and moved to New York City. It's the singer's usual cornucopia of blues, work songs, spirituals, children's tunes and topical songs. The centerpiece is the title track, a nearly five-minute-long monologue about heavyweight champion Jack Johnson trying to board the doomed ship and his reaction upon hearing of its eventual end. The sound is grainy and scratchy, but far superior to other issues of this same material, and a solid addition to anyone's American folk music or blues collection.


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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