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The Alan Lomax Collection: Portraits - The First Recordings

Alan Lomax & Mississippi Fred McDowell

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

The field recordings that Alan Lomax assembled during his extensive travels in the American South during the late ‘50s and early ‘60s represent one of the most important bodies of recordings in American popular music. Though Lomax recorded a phenomenal variety of gifted artists during his travels, few of them were as generous with their talents as the great Mississippi Fred McDowell, a previously unrecorded Como, Mississippi bluesman who had developed a slide technique as muscular and distinctive as any ever set to tape. Indeed, McDowell’s rough but dexterous finger-picking and his bold, often dissonant slide work compares favorably to that of Sun House at the peak of his powers. The stylistic breadth of these informal recordings is truly astonishing. Over the course of fourteen tracks McDowell dabbles in everything from exuberant country reels and old gospel to rowdy juke-joint classics and weary dread-plagued blues. Few of McDowell’s subsequent works possess the brooding power and casual joy of these seminal 1959 recordings.

Customer Reviews

absolutely essential

to have a bluesmaster at his finest with this sound quality is rare...perfect rythm, dark and masterful Mississipi expresses the blues like no other...he brings you into the studio with him and shakes your bones, terrifying and beautiful, pure of heart...the deepest expressive qualities of any artist in any medium...check out the voices in the background on some of the tracks, laughing and drinking, blowing a kazoo...feel his foot hitting the hollow floor rising up through your really gets no better and it never will

An American Masterpiece

This album captures an essence that allows today's generations to experience a sound and an aura that has been, for the most part, lost with the evolution of doctored music. Lomax has done the US a service in preserving the foundation of a truly American sound, one which all true musicians should study. This album especially does a service with its original sound and Fred's guttaral, passsionate lyrics

"You Done Told Everybody!"

Without the tireless efforts of Alan Lomax; so many great Bluesmen would never have been recorded! "The Alan Lomax Collection: Portraits" is a wonderful series; especially this one disc! For "Mississippi" Fred Mc Dowell did get a chance to be appreciated in his lifetime! The Classic Southern Delta Blues songs on "The First Recordings" influenced the playing & phrasing of: Bonnie Raitt; Bob Dylan; Hot Tuna; Ten Years After & The Yardbirds; just to rattle off a few! My Faves: Good Morning Little Schoolgirl; Shake 'Em On Down; Keep Your Lamps Trimmed And Burning & 61 Highway! "You're Gonna Be Sorry!" if you don't listen to some of the finest Blues around!-Thanks; Fred! Grimmbo.


Born: January 15, 1915 in Austin, TX

Genre: World

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Few figures deserve greater credit for the preservation of America's folk music traditions than Alan Lomax. Scouring the backroads, honky tonks, and work camps of the Deep South, he unearthed a treasure trove of songs and singers, documenting the music of the common man for future generations to discover; through Lomax's pioneering efforts, cultural traditions ranging from the Delta blues to Appalachian folk to field hollers continue to live on, with his invaluable recordings offering a compelling...
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The Alan Lomax Collection: Portraits - The First Recordings, Alan Lomax
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