Label: Document Records.
Release Date: February 24, 1998.
Recording Time: 77 minutes.
Release Info: Compilation Studio Recording.
Recording Date: February, 1947 - September 6, 1947.
Styles: Acoustic Blues, Country Blues, Folk-Blues, Folksongs, Songster.
The Austrian reissue label Document Records released the first five volumes of its series of the commercial recordings of Leadbelly in chronological order in 1994, taking the story up to 1946. Three years later comes the sixth volume, covering recordings made in 1947. Except for the final, barely audible live recording of "Eagle Rock Rag" made on September 6, 1947, these tracks were cut for record company owner Moses Asch (soon to found Folkways), with the discographical information incomplete. Most of them are re-recordings of songs Leadbelly recorded for Asch or another label earlier, which may indicate that, at this relatively late point in his career, he had committed most of his repertoire to disc and was repeating himself or, as annotator Ken Romanowski and others have suggested, the singer may have been recutting songs at Asch's behest because Asch had lost control of the masters to the earlier versions when he went bankrupt and he wanted replacements. In any case, the result is that this album presents good versions of many Leadbelly favorites including "Gray Goose," "Pick a Bale of Cotton" (with backup vocals by the Oleander Singers), "Bring Me a Little Water Silvy (Sylvie)" (a duet with Anna Graham), "Irene, Good Night" (actually a copy of the earlier version for Asch, except that it fades out early), "Rock Island Line," and "The Gallis Pole." Among the few newly recorded songs are "Laura" and "Sukey Jump (Win' Jammer)." Also notable is "If It Wasn't for Dicky," the tune of which was borrowed by the Weavers for their song "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine." Although the singer was only two years away from his death due to the paralyzing effects of Lou Gehrig's disease, he shows no evidence of its onset here, performing in his usual enthusiastic manner and even pausing to explain the contexts of his work and gospel songs. The sound quality is generally good, although some tracks have audible surface noise. - Review by William Ruhlmann.
Personnel: Lead Belly, twelve-string guitar, concertina, piano.
Informative booklet note by Ken Romaowski
Document Records, DOCD-5568: It is indeed fortunate that an undiscovered session of Leadbelly's songs such as this has surfaced fifty years after it's recording. In a lot of ways 1947 was a crucial year for Lead Belly. After his disappointing attempts to break into the film industry, he returned to New York to re-enter the circle of politically active performers who rightly revered Lead Belly as something of an elder statesman. In New York he headlined some prestigious concerts, had a regular slot at the Village Vanguard and continued to record for Moe Asch. Two blocks of these recordings for Asch made in the summer of 1947 make up the bulk of this CD. Almost two thirds of the total number of titles are re-recordings of tracks previously released by Asch. Some of the remaining titles are remakes of unissued masters recorded by Asch, whilst some are new versions previously released by Victor, Bluebird and Musicraft. A handful of songs are new to Lead Belly's recorded catalogue, such as two energetic and charming numbers on which he accompanies himself on the concertina or "win-jammer" as he referred to it: Laura and Sukey Jump. The last batch of songs on this CD are not listed in any of the discographies and may have been recorded by one of the smaller, independent New York record labels. These include a new version of Black Betty, Old Man and On A Monday. A good number of the tracks from this session were not released by anyone in 1947, even though versions were recorded by the Library of Congress, Asch and others.
Credits: Anne Graham - vocals; Lee Hays - composer; Fred Hellerman - composer; Lead Belly - composer, concertina, guitar, piano, primary artist, rap, vocals; Huddie Ledbetter - composer; Alan Lomax - composer; John A. Lomax - composer; Johnny Mercer - composer; Johnny Parth - compilation producer, producer; David Raksin - composer; Ken Romanowski - liner notes; Pete Seeger - composer; Sonny Terry - harmonica; Traditional - composer; Gerhard Wessely - remastering.
Tracks: 1) Yellow gal; 2) You can't lose me Cholly; 3) Laura; 4) Good morning blues; 5) Leaving blues; 6) Big fat woman; 7) Gray goose; 8) Pick a bale of cotton; 9) Take this hammer; 10) Bring me a little water Silvy; 11) Moaning; 12) Meeting at the building; 13) Wshall walk through the valley; 14) Irene good night; 15) Cotton song; 16) Ha ha this way; 17) Sukey jump (win' jammer); 18) Black girl; 19) Rock island line; 20) Blind lemon (song); 21) Borrow love and go; 22) On a monday (i'm almost done); 23) Shorty George; 24) Duncan (and Brady); 25) Old Riley; 26) Leavin' blues (Leavin' in the morning); 27) Pigmeat; 28) If it wasn't for Dicky; 29) Black Betty / Old man / On a Monday; 30) Turn yo' radio on; 31) No good rider; 32) Howard Hughes; 33) New York City; 34) The Gallis Pole; 35) I'm leavin' on the morning train; 36) Jean Harlow; 37) Good mornin' blues; 38) Eagle rock rag.