Various – Gennett Old Time Music – Classic Country Recordings – 1927-1934 – 4CD
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John D Foster, Ernest Stoneman, The Red Fox Chasers, Oscar L Coffey, Ted Chestnut, Fiddlin' Doc Roberts, Taylor's Kentucky Boys, Ted Gossett's Band, Tommy Whitmer's Band, John Hammond, Da Costa Woltz's Southern Broadcasters, Byrd Moore, Marion Underwood
Once again, JSP have come up with another highly important collection of American Old-Time recordings and now, thanks to Chris King's transfers, this music made in Richmond, Indiana and New York for the Gennett Record Company, sounds better than it ever did on previous very hard to find issues.
The set opens with John D Foster's swinging guitar booming out loud and clear on old time ballads, upbeat blues and fiddle breakdowns ably assisted by his various outfits which included mandolin players Jesse James and TS Young and the legendary fiddler Leonard Rutherford. The tracks with Rutherford are particularly good - especially the stop-time gospel number These Bones Gonna Rise Again and the jaunty instrumental Taylor's Quickstep.
The Red Fox Chasers set includes wild instrumentals like Turkey In The Straw and Did You Ever See The Devil, pathos filled ballads such as Wreck On The Mountain Road and Naomi Wise then the tough, rural harmonies of Something Wrong With My Gal and May I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight, Mister? The full Gennett sessions may be available elsewhere but these 22 tracks present a fine selection of their very best songs. I knew nothing of vocalist and banjo player Oscar L Coffey but his solo performances of the ultra rare Six Feet Of Earth and Dear Old Mountain Home come from the deepest of the darkest mountain hollers. He made a bunch of stuff for Gennett but only three were ever released.
Previous issues of Fiddlin' Doc Roberts have been marred by bad sound quality so his 14 tracks here have benefitted hugely from the Chris King treatment. Doc's songs are marvellous virtuoso pieces and, accompanied by his trusty sidekick Asa Martin on note-perfect guitar, the adventurous and inventive fiddle playing is a joy to hear. His interpretations of tunes like Old Buzzard, The Devil In Georgia, Arkansas Traveller and the square dance Martha Campbell have, in my opinion, never been bettered.
If like me, you're fan of high kicking fiddle instrumentals, Tommy Whitmer's tremendous swinging version of Fire On The Mountain is another worth special mention but is really just one more great performance on a set of CDs that is crammed with great fiddlin' by some of the best. I also have to mention Da Costa Wotlz's Southern Broadcasters who had a gem of a fiddler in Ben Jarrell who fairly set the furniture alight in most of their 12 tracks here. He never lets up on dance tunes like John Brown's Dream and goes hell for leather on the minstrelsy version of Yellow Rose Of Texas. How he found the energy to sing as well as play at this speed is one of life's mysteries!
This really is a treasure trove for old-timey fans. Just the kind of set you can dive in anywhere and find real diamonds amongst the gold.
John D. Foster: 1. When I Was Single My Pockets Would Jingle - 3:00 2. Good Bye, My Darlin' - 3:06 3. My Sarah Jane - 2:24 4. Storms May Rule the Ocean - 2:28 5. The Cabin with Roses at the Door - 3:14 6. My Boyhood Happy Days - 3:15 7. Some Day I'll Wander Back Again - 3:19 8. We Can Only Have One Mother - 3:10 9. Taylor's Quickstep - 3:02 10. Richmond Blues - 3:03 11. These Bones Gwine Rise Again - 2:56 12. My Carolina Home - 3:13 13. Let Her Go I'll Meet Her - 2:53 14. She's Only a Bird in a Guilded Cage - 2:43 15. Meet Me in the Moonlight - 2:53 16. There's More Pretty Girls Than One - 2:42 17. Two Faithful Lovers - 2:52 18. Cabin with Roses at the Door - 3:13 19. Six Months Ain't Long - 3:03 Ernest V. Stoneman: 20. New River Train - 2:53 21. John Hardy - 3:10 22. Kenney Wagner's Surrender - 2:23 23. The Poor Tramp Has to Live - 3:06 24. Long Eared Mule - 3:06 25. Round Town Gals - 3:04
Red Fox Chasers: 1. The Arkansas Traveler - 3:08 2. Turkey in the Straw - 3:11 3. Did You Ever See the Devil, Uncle Joe? - 3:04 4. Wreck on the Mountain Road - 2:37 5. Stolen Love - 2:45 6. Tell Mother I'll Meet Her - 3:19 7. Weeping Willow Tree - 2:44 8. Little Sweetheart Pal of Mine - 3:04 9. Put My Little Shoes Away - 2:56 10. Mississippi Sawyer - 3:10 11. Twinkle Little Star - 2:55 12. Looking to My Prayer - 2:36 13. We Shall Meet on That Beautiful Shore - 2:45 14. May I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight, Mister - 2:53 15. Something Wrong with My Gal - 2:42 16. Honeysuckle Time - 2:40 17. The Blind Man and His Child - 2:48 18. Makin' Likker in North Carolina, Pt. 1 - 3:09 19. Makin' Likker in North Carolina, Pt. 2 - 2:33 20. Virginia Bootleggers - 2:50 21. Naomi Wise - 2:55 22. Devilish Mary - 2:40 Oscar L. Coffey: 23. Six Feet of Earth Makes Us All One Size - 2:53 24. My Dear Old Mountain Home - 3:05 Ted Chestnut: 25. He's Only a Miner Killed in the Ground 2:32
Fiddlin' Doc Roberts: 1. Deer Walk - 3:07 2. The Devil in Georgia - 3:12 3. Take Those Lips Away - 3:01 4. Jacks Creek Waltz - 3:13 5. Martha Campbell - 3:07 6. The Girl I Left Behind Me - 3:07 7. Rocky Mountain - 3:06 8. Cripple Creek - 2:36 9. Old Buzzard - 2:37 10. Arkansas Traveler - 2:45 11. Johnny Inchin' Along - 3:09 12. Buck Creek Gal - 2:35 13. I've Got a Girl Named Susie - 3:04 14. Run Smoke Run - 2:51 Taylor's Kentucky Boys: 15. Gray Eagle - 2:40 16. Forked Deer - 2:45 17. Sourwood Mountain - 2:36 Marion Underwood: 18. Coal Creek March - 2:48 Ted Gossett's Band: 19. Eighth of January - 2:44 Tommy Whitmer’s Band: 20. Fire on the Mountain - 2:52 Ted Gossett's Band: 21. Wild Geese - 2:53 22. Fox Chase - 2:59 John Hammond: 23. Little Birdie - 2:49 24. Purty Polly - 3:08 25. As Free a Little Bird as Can Be - 2:32
Da Costa Woltz's Southern Broadcasters: 1. Richmond Cotillion - 2:55 2. John Brown's Dream - 2:43 3. Merry Girl - 2:59 4. Yellow Rose of Texas - 2:49 5. I Know My Name Is There - 2:44 6. Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb - 2:52 7. Wandering Boy - 2:50 8. Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South - 2:46 9. When You Ask a Girl to Leave Her Happy Home - 2:37 10. Old Joe Clark - 2:45 11. Evening Star Waltz - 2:44 12. Home Sweet Home - 2:35 Byrd Moore: 13. Last Days in Georgia - 2:57 14. Flop Eared Mule - 3:02 15. That Old Tiger Rag - 3:09 16. Favourite Two Step - 3:03 17. Careless Lover - 3:13 18. Mama Don't Allow No Low Down Hangin' Round - 3:04 19. The Bully of the Town - 2:54 20. Snatch 'Em Back Blues - 3:12 21. Bed Bugs Makin' Their Last Go Round - 3:19 22. All Night Long - 3:18 23. When the Snowflakes Fall Again - 3:01 24. Birmingham Jail 3:03
1. AllMusic - Steve Leggett
Although best known for its jazz releases, Fred Gennett’s self-named Gennett Records label also did extensive recording in the rural folk genre, tracking various singers and string bands from the South in the 1920s and 1930s. This expansive four-disc set compiled by Chris King collects nearly 100 of these rare sides issued between 1927 and 1934, including early recordings by Ernest Stoneman, the Red Fox Chasers, Fiddlin’ Doc Roberts, and a trio of lovely clawhammer banjo pieces from John Hammond. Modern country grew out of these kinds of back-porch performances, and what they lack in polish and sleekness they more than make up for with pure heart and soul.
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