Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1940-1943) by Leadbelly

Label: Document Records.
Release Date: June 9, 1994.
Recording Time: 76 minutes.
Recording Date: June 17, 1940 - mid 1943.
Release Info: Compilation Studio Recording.

Styles: Country Blues, Folk-Blues, Songster, Folksongs.

The Austrian Document Records label continues its series of CDs presenting Leadbelly's commercial recordings in chronological order from 1939 with this second volume, which picks up with the second day of the singer's two days of sessions for RCA Victor Records in June 1940, some of the tracks featuring the Golden Gate Quartet, material issued either on the album The Midnight Special and Other Prison Songs or on singles on the discount-priced Bluebird Records subsidiary. These recordings (tracks one through ten) marked the end of Leadbelly's work for major record labels for the time being. His next, far more informal, commercial sessions were made for the tiny Asch Records label run by Moses Asch (later the founder of Folkways Records) and initially issued on the Asch albums Play Parties in Song and Dance as Sung by Lead Belly; Work Songs of the U.S.A. Sung by Leadbelly; Leadbelly & His Guitar; and Songs by Lead Belly. (Leadbelly also made many recordings for the Library of Congress [issued separately by Document] and airchecks during this period that do not fit into the series' concept of commercial recordings and thus are not included.) Many of Leadbelly's better-known songs are included in these sessions, among them "Easy Rider," "Grey Goose," "Stew Ball," "Skip to My Lou," "Rock Island Line," and "John Henry" (the last featuring Sonny Terry on harmonica). Particularly notable are two 1943 takes of "(Good Night) Irene," a song that would be popularized by the Weavers shortly after Leadbelly's death in 1949. The singer is in prime shape; his guitar playing is typically forceful, and he even plays concertina on some songs. The tracks have been transferred from old vinyl discs, with hiss and crackles audible throughout (and even, in the case of some of the Asch tracks, skips), but the sound quality is generally fair. - Review by William Ruhlmann.

Personnel: Lead Belly - vocals, twelve-string guitar, button accordion.
With contributions by the Golden Gate Quartet - male vocal group; Sonny Terry - harmonica.

Informative booklet notes by Ken Romanowski.
Detailed discography.

Document Records (DOCD-5227): After a series of false starts and blind alleys in the first few years after his release from Angola Penitentiary in 1934, Lead Belly's career had begun, by the beginning of the 1940's to settle comfortably into the activity surrounding the burgeoning urban folk music revival. Although he had severed his ties with John Lomax in 1935, he remained close with Alan Lomax, who continued to record Lead Belly for the Library of Congress as well as arranging for several key commercial sessions. As Lead Belly was beginning to become recognised he was introduced to a man called Moses Asch. Asch was born in Poland in 1905 into a family with political backgrounds and after moving around Europe the family settled in America. This upbringing had an effect on Asch, fostering a lifelong curiosity and tolerance for ideas outside the mainstream. As such Asch found work in the field of electronics and subsequently founded Asch Records in 1939. In May and July 1941 Asch recorded the first of many sessions with Lead Belly. Exploring a previously unrecorded aspect of Lead Belly's vast repertory he released "Play Parties in Song and Dance", "Work songs of the U.S.A." and a combined "Work and Play Party Songs". The titles on this CD come from these sessions, containing the first releases of the folk standards Take This Hammer, Rock Island Line and the first recorded instance of Lead Belly accompanying himself on his original instrument, the concertina or button accordion, on the track Corn Bread Rough. In another session Lead Belly recorded the previously unreleased Irene, a track that would posthumously bring him worldwide recognition. An alternative take of Irene is also included with Sonny Terry accompanying on Harmonica. It is truly unfortunate that on the cusp of commercial acceptance that Lead Belly did not live long enough to witness his dream of popular success.

Credits: Leroy Carr - composer; Willie Johnson - vocals; William Langford - vocals; Lead Belly - composer, guitar, primary artist, vocals; Huddie Ledbetter - composer; Alan Lomax - composer; John A. Lomax - composer; Jelly Roll Morton - composer; Henry Owens - vocals; Johnny Parth - producer; Ken Romanowski - liner notes; Sonny Terry - harmonica; Traditional - composer; Gerhard Wessely - remastering; Arlandus Wilson - vocals.

Tracks: 1) Easy Rider – Huddie Leadbelly; 2) New York City – Huddie Leadbelly; 3) Worried Blues – Huddie Leadbelly; 4) Don’t You Love Your Daddy No More? – Huddie Leadbelly; 5) You Can’t Lose-a Me Cholly – Huddie Leadbelly; 6) Grey Goose – Huddie Leadbelly; 7) Stew Ball – Huddie Leadbelly; 8) Take This Hammer – Huddie Leadbelly; 9) Can’t You Line ‘Em – Huddie Leadbelly; 10) Ham An’ Eggs – Huddie Leadbelly; 11) Ha Ha Thisaway – Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly); 12) Little Sally Walker – Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly); 13) Redbird – Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly); 14) Christmas Song – Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly); 15) Skip To My Lou – Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly); 16) You Can’t Lose Me Cholly – Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly); 17) Take This Hammer – Huddie Leadbelly; 18) Haul Away, Joe – Huddie Leadbelly; 19) Rock Island Line – Huddie Leadbelly; 20) Ol’ Riley – Huddie Leadbelly; 21) Corn Bread Rough – Huddie Leadbelly; 22) Old Man – Huddie Leadbelly; 23) On A Monday – Leadbelly; 24) John Henry – Leadbelly; 25) How Long – Leadbelly; 26) (Good Night) Irene (take 1) – Leadbelly; 27) (Good Night) Irene – Leadbelly; 28) Ain’t You Glad – Leadbelly; 29) Good Morning Blues – Leadbelly.