Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1943-1944) by Leadbelly

Label: Document Records.
Release Date: May 1, 1995.
Recording Time: 75 minutes.
Release Info: Compilation Studio Recording.
Recording Date: October, 1943 - April, 1944.

Styles: Country Blues, Folk-Blues, Songster.

The Austrian Document Records label continues its series of CDs presenting Leadbelly's commercial recordings in chronological order from 1939 with this third volume, which picks up with a session for record company owner Moses Asch (whose label was now called Disc, but who would later found Folkways) probably held in October 1943, material issued on the album Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Leadbelly (tracks one through six). The singer's contract with Asch was nonexclusive, and in February 1944 he returned to Musicraft Records (for which he had recorded in 1939) for sessions that resulted in the album Leadbelly Sings Ballads of Beautiful Women and Bad Men/With the Satin Strings (tracks seven through 14). Asch was back to calling his label Asch Records by April 1944, when Leadbelly cut a series of sessions (tracks 15-26) that appeared on different Asch collections and, after the company's bankruptcy, on Stinson, the company controlled by Asch's partner, who took away some of the masters. Some of Leadbelly's better-known songs are included in these sessions, among them "Bring Me Lil Water Silvy," "In the Pines," and "In New Orleans" (aka "House of the Rising Sun"), and two versions of "John Hardy," and the recordings also are notable for featuring his piano and concertina playing on some tracks and for the presence of Josh White (who duets on "I've a Pretty Flower" and takes lead vocals on "Don't Lie Buddy") and Sonny Terry here and there. On "Blind Lemon (Memorial Record)," Leadbelly demonstrates the style of Blind Lemon Jefferson, whom he used to accompany. The singer is in prime shape, and his guitar playing is typically forceful. The tracks have been transferred from old vinyl discs, with hiss and crackles audible, but the sound quality is generally good. ~ William Ruhlmann

Personnel: Leadbelly - vocals, twelve-string guitar, tap dancing, speech, button accordion, piano. With contributions by Josh White - guitar, Sonny Terry - harmonica.

Informative booklet notes by Ken Romanowski.
Detailed discography.

Document Records (DOCD-5228): Although John and Alan Lomax were responsible for Leadbelly's discovery, it was Moses Asch who gave Huddie room for professional growth through extensive recording, contact with the urban folk revival and most importantly by keeping Leadbelly's songs available to the public. Asch grew up in an ideologically, progressive Jewish household, which left him with a lifelong intellectual curiosity and an empathy for proletarian concerns. By the 1920's he became interested in radio and folk music, eventually combining the two to form Asch Records in 1939. At the beginning of the 40's Asch struck a business relationship with Leadbelly which spawned frequent and numerous recordings. The first six tracks on this Leadbelly album were released as an album of three 12 inch 78's titled "Negro Folk Songs". A magnificent version of John Hardy accompanied by his Cajun flavoured concertina is featured here. The rest of the songs from this session repeated some of his more famous numbers, but is still an excellent overview of Leadbelly's repertoire and covers blues, ballads, reels, cowboy songs, spirituals and work songs. Another highlight is his piano playing on the blues title Big Fat Woman. The other tracks on this presented here are from four sessions in early 1944, which include wonderful renditions of Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (a track which Kurt Cobain of Nirvana sang on the live "Unplugged in New York" album), House Of The Rising Sun and a remake of John Hardy with guitar accompaniment. However, the standout track is probably the Blind Lemon (Memorial Record) where Leadbelly demonstrates the type of song Lemon would have performed on the streets of Dallas whilst Leadbelly would tap dance, a sample of which follows on Leadbelly's Dance.

Credits: A.P. Carter - composer; M. Christian - composer; Lead Belly - button accordion, composer, dance (tap), guitar, piano, primary artist, spoken word, vocals; Huddie Ledbetter - composer; Johnny Parth - compilation producer; Sonny Terry - guest artist, harmonica; Traditional - composer; Josh White - guest artist, guitar, primary artist, vocals.

Tracks: 1) Cow cow yicky yea / Out on the western plains; 2) Noted rider / Big fat woman / Borrow love and go; 3) John Hardy; 4) Meeting at the building / Talking preaching / We shall walk through the valley; 5) Fiddler's dream / Yallow gal / Green corn; 6) Bring me lil water Silvy / Julia Ann Johnson / Line 'em / Whoa Back Buck; 7) Roberta; 8) Bill Brady; 9) Where did you sleep last night?; 10) Yellow gal; 11) When the boys were out on the western plains; 12) Pretty flowers in your backyard; 13) In New Orleans; 14) John Hardy; 15) I've a pretty flowers; 16) Don't lie buddy; 17) How do you know / Don't mind the weather; 18) (What are) little boys (made of) / Let me hold your hand (all for you) / Polly Wolly (Polly) Wee; 19) Skip to my Lou / Christmas day (It's almost day); 20) Little Sally Walker / ha ha thisaway / Red bird; 21) Outskirts of town; 22) Red river / Black girl (In the pines) / Don't miss your water blues; 23) Blind Lemon (Memorial record); 24) Leadbelly's dance; 25) Mother's blues (Little children blues); 26) Mo' yet / (Little boy) how old are you / There's a limb on the tree (Green grass all around).