Leadbelly – The Legend of Leadbelly (1970/2019) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Leadbelly – The Legend of Leadbelly (1970/2019)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 28:37 minutes | 559 MB | Genre: Blues, Folk
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Tradition Records

Huddie William Ledbetter (/ˈhjuːdi/; January 23, 1888 – December 6, 1949), better known by the stage name Lead Belly, was an American folk and blues singer, musician, and songwriter notable for his strong vocals, virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the folk standards he introduced, including his renditions of “In The Pines”, “Goodnight, Irene”, “Midnight Special”, “Cotton Fields”, and “Boll Weevil”.

Lead Belly usually played a twelve-string guitar, but he also played the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and windjammer. In some of his recordings, he sang while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.

Lead Belly’s songs covered a wide range of genres and topics including gospel music; blues about women, liquor, prison life, and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding, and dancing. He also wrote songs about people in the news, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, Jack Johnson, the Scottsboro Boys and Howard Hughes. Lead Belly was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

Though many releases credit him as “Leadbelly”, he himself wrote it as “Lead Belly”, which is also the spelling on his tombstone and the spelling used by the Lead Belly Foundation…

Of course with Blues artist and most of pre-1950 music in general, albums weren’t an aesthetic or economic category yet, so what we have to deal with is compilations. These rarely fulfill all the criteria of reception that stem from album aesthetics, such as good sequencing, consistent quality, historical importance as a cultural artefact, convenient length, right balance of diversity and coherency and so on. In turn, the most prominent merit of a compilation, which is comprehensive historical and archival value – putting the artists definite and otherwise unavailable pieces in one place – is often not greatly valued in an album rating context. I have the feeling this is because, whether or not all the criteria above are there, even a great compilation is never perceived as one thing: a coherent artistic statement by the artist (I’m surprised that this is a category that plays a great role in my own rating behaviour).

In this context, what distinguishes this compilation from most any other is (besides the vinyl-limitation, giving it just the perfect running time for this acoustic rural Blues) that to my ears, this sounds like I would imagine an actually Leadbelly album would have sounded like, had he ever made one.

I guess what I’m saying is that this is (at least) one of the compilations that is to Leadbelly what King of the Delta Blues is to Robert Johnson: Of course without the historical impact of that one, but it’s a compilation transcending the restrictions of its own nature by sounding like an album, using material that was never conceived of as an album.

This contains 7 of the 8 songs from a February 17, 1944 session (except “Bill Brady”, so 1, 3, 5, 6-8, 10), one of 2 songs from the following April 19, 1944 session (9), the one of two “Irene”-takes (2) used as a single from July or August 1943 (SC-261-1) and one of two songs from May 11, 1942 (4, with Sonny Terry).

These years are among Lead Belly’s strongest phases.

1. Leadbelly – In New Orleans (03:15)
2. Leadbelly – Goodnight Irene (02:32)
3. Leadbelly – Where Did You Sleep Last Night (03:01)
4. Leadbelly – How Long (02:09)
5. Leadbelly – John Hardy (03:14)
6. Leadbelly – When the Boys Were on the Western Plains (02:56)
7. Leadbelly – Pretty Flower in Your Backyard (02:45)
8. Leadbelly – Roberta (03:07)
9. Leadbelly – I’ve a Pretty Flower (02:26)
10. Leadbelly – Yellow Gal (03:08)

Leadbelly – vocals, guitar
Featuring – Sonny Terry & Josh White


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