Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music
Contents: 2xCD or 3xLP
Revenant No. 211
“There were to be four of them, and four volumes in the series. Red, Blue, Green were issued [on the original Folkways set], so that the element that was left out was earth…” . – Harry Smith from 1968 interview with John Cohen
Harry Smith was a true polymath–avant-garde filmmaker, alchemist, occultist, folklorist, painter, magician, archivist and expert on string figures, paper airplanes, and Ukrainian painted eggs–but is perhaps best known for his pioneering three-volume Anthology of American Folk Music, originally released in 1952 and reissued to great acclaim in 1997 by Smithsonian/Folkways. Compiled by Harry Smith contemporaneously with the first three volumes, Volume 4 of Harry’s historic Anthology went unissued for almost 50 years. Til now.
In conjunction with the Harry Smith Archives, Revenant presents Smith’s “secret volume” in its intended song sequence, including tracks by the Monroe Bros., Carter Family, Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Lead Belly, Uncle Dave Macon and Sleepy John Estes. Featuring the first in-depth narrative on Smith and his work, with essays by Harry’s friend Ed Sanders (the Fugs), John Cohen (New Lost City Ramblers), John Fahey, Dick Spottswood and Greil Marcus, and previously unpublished photos, including a teenage Harry Smith engineering some of his earliest field recordings.
To purchase: www.thirdmanrecords.
Two CDs housed in a 96-page artisan-printed book.
“…Vol 4 is lavish….Smith was a master of the segue…[and] had a prophet’s ear…” – Rolling Stone
“…More lives have been touched by the music in these volumes than almost any other source. Dig in and dig it.” – Mojo
“Legendary filmmaker/cultural icon Harry Smith (1923-1991) was the living definition of the term “culture vulture.” Smith pioneered animation in film and associated with everyone from Jean-Luc Goddard to Billie Holliday and Jimmy Page, and in the early 1950’s compiled the six-volume Anthology of American Folk Music for Folkways Records. This collection’s aim was to document the entire continuum of American roots music in all its diversity. It succeeded fabulously (and helped spark the folk boom of the ’50s and ’60s). After 50-odd years, Revenant in conjunction with the Harry Smith Archives has released VOLUME FOUR.
This two-CD set details the beginnings of both 20th century country music and bluegrass (The Blue Sky Boys’ “Down on the Banks of the Ohio”) as well as their roots in Appalachian/Celtic folk (The Carter Family’s “Black Jack David”). The blues, and its impact on folk and rock & roll, is represented by Leadbelly’s epochal “Packin’ Trunk” (a direct influence on Carl Perkin’s rockabilly classic “Matchbox”), and the Memphis Jug Band’s rollicking, irreverent “Memphis Shakedown.” Anyone wishing to explore the roots of these classic American musics would do well to acquire this edition of Harry Smith’s Anthology.” – Interview
“Today, it is impossible to overstate the historic worth, sociocultural impact and undiminished vitality of the music in Harry Smith’s Anthology, and Smith’s idiosyncratic scholarship and instinctive wisdom.” – David Fricke, Rolling Stone
- Memphis Shakedown, (Memphis Jug Band)
- Dog and Gun (An Old English Ballad), (Bradley Kincaid)
- Black Jack David, (The Carter Family)
- Down on the Banks of the Ohio, (Blue Sky Boys)
- Adieu False Heart, (Arthur Smith Trio)
- John Henry was a Little Boy, (J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers)
- Nine Pound Hammer is Too Heavy, (Monroe Brothers)
- Southern Casey Jones, (Jesse James)
- Cold Iron Bed, (Jack Kelly and his South Memphis Jug Band)
- Packin’ Trunk, (Lead Belly)
- Baby Please Don’t Go, (Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers)
- Last Fair Deal Gone Down, (Robert Johnson)
- Parchman Farm Blues, (Bukka White) (listen)
- Mean Old World, (Heavenly Gospel Singers) (listen)
- Hello Stranger, (The Carter Family)
- Stand By Me, (Sister Clara Hudmon)
- West Virginia Gals, (Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters)
- How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?, (Blind Alfred Reed)
- Wreck of the Tennessee Gravy Train, (Uncle Dave Macon)
- Governor Al Smith, (Uncle Dave Macon)
- Milk Cow Blues, (John Estes)
- No Depression in Heaven, (The Carter Family)
- I’ll be Rested (When the Roll is Called), (Blind Roosevelt Graves and Brother)
- He’s in the Ring (Doing the Same Old Thing), (Memphis Minnie)
- The Cockeyed World, (Minnie Wallace)
- Barbecue Bust, (Mississippi Jook Band)
- Dans le Grand Bois (In the Forest), (Hackberry Ramblers)
- Aces’ Breakdown, (The Four Aces)