DOCD-5226 Leadbelly Complete Recorded Works 1939 – 1947 Volume 1 (1st April 1939 to 15th June 1940). Lead Belly’s Commercial recordings.
Blues and ballads
Lead Belly, vocal twelve-string guitar
Includes performance by The Golden Gate Quartet
Booklet Notes Ken Romaowski
In early 1939, Lead Belly was involved in a fight with another man whom he allegedly stabbed 16 times with a knife. The judge saw fit to give Lead Belly a sentence of one year (due to the fact that in between sentencing, reports Lead Belly had apprehended a bank robber and held him until the police had arrived.
To help meet Lead Belly’s legal costs, Alan Lomax arranged a session with the fledgling Musicraft label. On April 1s,t 1939, Lead Belly stepped into the studio and recorded material for what was to become a five disc album (five 78 rpm records) titled “Negro Sinful Songs sung by Lead Belly”. Even though Lead Belly had recorded over two hundred titles for the Library of Congress, he was virtually unknown to the record buying public. But with this album Lead Belly was to find his own attentive audience in the budding urban folk scene.
Tracks 3 to 12 are taken from this session, which ran the gamut of styles from field hollers Go Down Old Hannah, work songs Looky Looky Yonder and Black Betty, a variant of the “Child Ballad No. 95”, The Gallis Pole, Afro-American ballads; Frankie & Albert and Boll Weevil, reels Poor Howard and Green Corn – which includes Lead Belly tap dancing between the two tunes, blues, including the traditional De Kalb Blues, the autobiographical Bourgeois Blues and Fannin’ Street.
The rest of the tracks were recorded in New York city on 15th June 1940 for the RCA Victor who were looking toward breaking into the folk / educational market. The sessions were divided between folk material from his songster repertory, accompanied by the Golden Gate Quartet and blues material which he performed solo The older folk songs like Pick A Bale Of Cotton and Midnight Special were packaged as a three disc album, while the blues song were issued as single discs on RCA’s budget label Bluebird.
The first two tracks on the CD; Daddy I’m Coming Home To You and Shorty George, are two unissued sides from Lead Belly’s first commercial recording session which for ARC.