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American Roots CD

DISKY: BX 248612

American Roots CD

Track Listing

Disc One

  1. Peach Pickin' Time In Georgia - Jimmie Rodgers
  2. Sail Away Ladies - Uncle Dave Macon
  3. Wildwood Flower - The Carter Family
  4. Trail To Mexico - The Blue Sky Blue
  5. Runaway Train, The - Vernon Dalhart
  6. When The Saints Go Marching In - Fiddlin' John Carson/Moonshine Kate
  7. All Night Long - Earl Johnson's Clodhoppers
  8. Red Wing - Riley Puckett
  9. I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes - The Carter Family
  10. Goin' To The Barn Dance Tonight - Carl Robinson & His Pioneers
  11. Go Long Mule - Uncle Dave Macon
  12. Frankie And Johnny - Jimmie Rodgers
  13. Three Men Went A Huntin' - Byrd Moore & His Hot Shots
  14. My Man's A Jolly Railroad Man - Moonshine Kate
  15. Waiting For A Train - Jimmie Rodgers
  16. Dollar Tag - Fiddlin' John Carson/Moonshine Kate Georgia's Three
  17. Jamestown Exhibition - Bayless Rose
  18. Lay Down Baby, Take Your Rest - Carolina Tar Heels
  19. Backwater Blues - Uncle Dave Macon
  20. Wreck Of The Old '97, The - Vernon Dalhart
  21. Little Old Sod Shanty On My Claim, The - Marc Williams
  22. Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow - The Carter Family
  23. In The Hills Of Tennessee - Jimmie Rodgers
  24. Ida Red - The Blue Sky Boys/Curly Parker
  25. Alto Waltz - Darby & Tarlton

Disc 2

  1. John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man - The Carter Family
  2. Gambling Bar Room Blues - Jimmie Rodgers
  3. Little Bessie - The Alabama Barnstormers
  4. I'll Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms - Buster Carter/Preston Young
  5. I'm Going Away In The Morn - Uncle Dave Macon
  6. Pappa's Billy Goat - Fiddlin' John Carson
  7. Hackberry Trot - The Hackberry Ramblers
  8. Abbeville Breakdown - Alley Boys Of Abbeville
  9. Tiger Rag Blues - Breaux Freres
  10. Louisiana Mazurka - Breaux Freres
  11. Step It Fast - Amedee Breaux
  12. High Steppin' Mama Blues - Gene Autry
  13. Blue Yodel (T For Texas) - Jimmie Rodgers
  14. Anchored In Love - The Carter Family
  15. Jimmie Rodgers Visits - The Carter Family
  16. Hard For To Love - Hayes Shepherd
  17. Yellow Rose Of Texas, The - Gene Autry
  18. Brave Engineer, The - The Carver Boys
  19. Taxes On The Farmer Feeds Us All - Fiddlin John Carson/Moonshine Kate
  20. Hold The Woodpile Down - Uncle Dave Macon
  21. I'm A Man Of Constant Sorrow - Emry Arthur
  22. Rambling Boy - The Carter Family
  23. My Little Lady - Jimmie Rodgers
  24. Two Italians...Red Bird - Monroe Gevedon & Family

Disc 3

  1. Orange Blossom Medley - Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
  2. Brown's Ferry Blues - The Delmore Brothers
  3. Row Us Over The Tide - The Blue Sky Boys
  4. Big Rock Candy Mountain, The - Burl Ives
  5. Oklahoma Hills - Jack Guthrie
  6. Nine Pound Hammer - Merle Travis
  7. Cannonball Rag - Merle Travis
  8. Red River Valley - Gene Autry
  9. Mule Skinner Blues - Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
  10. Great Speckled Bird, The - Roy Acuff & His Crazy Tennesseeans
  11. Take It To The Captain - The Delmore Brothers
  12. Garden In The Sky - The Blue Sky Boys
  13. Ain't That A Cryin' Shame - Merle Travis
  14. Milk Cow Blues - Johnnie Lee Willis & His Boys
  15. When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again - Wiley Walker/Gene Sullivan
  16. Footprints In The Snow - Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
  17. You Can't Do Wrong And Get By - The Delmore Brothers
  18. Why Should It End This Way? - The Blue Sky Boys
  19. Cotton-Eyed Joe - Bill Willis & His Texas Playboys/Tommy Duncan
  20. Night Train To Memphis - Roy Acuff & His Smokey Mountain Boys
  21. You Are My Sunshine - The Rice Brothers Gang
  22. Rounder's Blues - The Delmore Brothers
  23. Rocky Road Blues - Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
  24. Wabash Cannonball - Roy Acuff & His Crazy Tennesseeans
  25. It Makes No Difference Now - Gene Autry
  26. Pigmeat Strut - Merle Travis
  27. No Letter In The Mail - Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys

Disc 4

  1. This Land is Your Land - Woody Guthrie
  2. House Of The Rising Sun, The - Woody Guthrie
  3. Grand Coulee Dam - Woody Guthrie
  4. John Henry - Cisco Houston/Woody Guthrie
  5. All I Want - Pete Seeger/The Almanac Singers
  6. Talking Union - Pete Seeger
  7. Teeroo Teeroo - Pete Seeger
  8. I Know An Old Lady - Burl Ives
  9. Columbus Stockade - Cisco Houston/Woody Guthrie
  10. Sinking Of The Reuben James, The - Pete Seeger/The Almanac Singers
  11. Boll Weevil Blues - Cisco Houston/Woody Guthrie/Sonny Terry
  12. Away Rio - Pete Hawes/The Almanac Singers
  13. The Coast Of High Barbary - Pete Seeger/The Almanac Singers
  14. Jackhammer Blues - Cisco Houston/Woody Guthrie/Sonny Terry
  15. Liza Jane - Pete Seeger/Woody Guthrie/Josh White/The Almanac Singers
  16. Pastures Of Plenty - Woody Guthrie
  17. Cumberland Gap - Cisco Houston/Woody Guthrie/Sonny Terry
  18. Casey Jones - Pete Seeger
  19. Cumberland Bear Mountain - Pete Seeger
  20. So Long It's Been Good To Know You - Woody Guthrie
  21. Union Maid - Pete Seeger/The Almanac Singers
  22. Hard Travelling - Cisco Houston/Woody Guthrie
  23. Erie Canal - Pete Seeger
  24. Pretty Boy Floyd - Woody Guthrie
  25. State Of Arkansas - Lee Hayes
  26. Worried Man Blues - Cisco Houston/Woody Guthrie
  27. Deliver The Goods - Pete Seeger/The Almanac Singers
  28. Do-Re-Mi - Woody Guthrie

Review

Jerome Clark

Odd that something with a title and subtitle so grandiose as this collection's has no songs by African-American artists on it. After all, black Americans have played a huge role, from spirituals to blues and all points between, in the creation of our country's folk and vernacular music. Here, as far as I can tell, only two African-Americans appear, and in secondary roles on disc four: Sonny Terry and Josh White. For the sort of racial integration that more truly defines our grassroots music, you'll have to go to Yazoo's splendid ongoing series on Early Rural American Music.

That -- no small consideration -- aside, American Roots is a good deal, financially of course, but also artistically. The no-frills packaging assures the absence of a fat (or even thin) booklet of liner notes, explaining what compiler Tony Watts's selection criteria were. They're certainly unusual, though they shouldn't be; unlike many of his colleagues, Watts apparently has no trouble seeing that Gene Autry, Roy Acuff, and Merle Travis have as legitimate a claim to a place on the folk-music spectrum as do the Carter Family, Uncle Dave Macon, and Fiddlin' John Carson, whose archaic styles are more obviously tied to earlier Southern traditions. Watts documents the debt early country innovators had to the sounds that came before them as well as the creative, personal approach they contributed as they invented a more modern music. And listening to Travis's flat-picking instrumental "Cannonball Rag," you can hear the music coming full circle; Travis pupil Doc Watson would make Travis's jazz-inflected city sound into something most people assume to be organic Appalachiana.

Disc four moves from the South to New York City, where the Communist Party's Popular Front and singing Stalinists Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Cisco Houston, and Woody Guthrie created the urban folk revival. This disc contains one of American Roots' two genuinely repellant songs (the other is on disc one -- Vernon Dalhart's "The Runaway Train," bearer of what passed for humor in 1931 but seven decades later comes across as crude and stupid racism). In a 1940 reworking of the traditional "Liza Jane" into an anti-war agitprop exercise, we are reminded that during the Hitler-Stalin pact, Seeger, et al., cravenly followed the Soviet line, which was that World War II was all about the machinations of British capitalists and none of America's business. Later, in the same disc, Seeger and the Almanac Singers are performing a vigorous, full-throated, chirrupy anti-Hitler tune, "Deliver the Goods," done in 1942 after Hitler had attacked Russia and it was okay to oppose Hitler again. The hypocrisy is not pretty to hear. Side four also serves to remind us that where sheer talent is concerned, Guthrie was head and shoulders above the rest.

The sound quality on all four discs is decent on the whole. Inexplicably, however, there is annoying surface noise on Burl Ives's "The Big Rock Candy Mountain," hardly a rare recording. But for the price, I guess it's churlish to demand perfection. Anyone who loves American folk music, or at least that part of it sung by European Americans with (mostly) Southern accents, should have this worthwhile and entertaining anthology in his or her CD collection.

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