Leadbelly: Vol. 2 Complete recorded titles c. October 1943 to 25th April 1944
Leadbelly, vocal, twelve-string guitar, tap dancing, speech, button accordion, piano.
With contributions by Josh White, guitar; Sonny Terry, harmonica.
Genres: Texas Country Blues, Ballads, Children’s Songs
Informative booklet notes by Ken Romanowski.
Although John and Alan Lomax were responsible for Leadbelly’s discovery, it was Moses Asch who gave Huddie room for professional growth through extensive recording, contact with the urban folk revival and most importantly by keeping Leadbelly’s songs available to the public. Asch grew up in an ideologically, progressive Jewish household, which left him with a lifelong intellectual curiosity and an empathy for proletarian concerns. By the 1920’s he became interested in radio and folk music, eventually combining the two to form Asch Records in 1939.
At the beginning of the 40’s Asch struck a business relationship with Leadbelly which spawned frequent and numerous recordings. The first six tracks on this Leadbelly album were released as an album of three 12 inch 78’s titled “Negro Folk Songs”. A magnificent version of John Hardy accompanied by his Cajun flavoured concertina is featured here. The rest of the songs from this session repeated some of his more famous numbers, but is still an excellent overview of Leadbelly’s repertoire and covers blues, ballads, reels, cowboy songs, spirituals and work songs. Another highlight is his piano playing on the blues title Big Fat Woman. The other tracks on this presented here are from four sessions in early 1944, which include wonderful renditions of Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (a track which Kurt Cobain of Nirvana sang on the live “Unplugged in New York” album), House Of The Rising Sun and a remake of John Hardy with guitar accompaniment. However, the standout track is probably the Blind Lemon (Memorial Record) where Leadbelly demonstrates the type of song Lemon would have performed on the streets of Dallas whilst Leadbelly would tap dance, a sample of which follows on Leadbelly’s Dance.
Lead Belly’s further recorded output can be found on Documents DOCD-1018, DOCD-5226, DOCD-5227, DOCD-5228, DOCD-5276, DOCD-5310, DOCD-5311, DOCD-5411, DOCD-5461, DOCD-5568, DOCD-5579, DOCD-5591, DOCD-5592, DOCD-5593, DOCD-5594, DOCD-5595, DOCD-5640, DOCD-5664, DOCD-5659, DOCD-5676