Indeed, you guessed it. One cannot mention the quest for the American Primitive ,and incidently, the birth of record collecting, without Harry Smiths Anthology of American Folk series from the early 50's. A very trendy item for the proto-hippie scene in all major metropolis's,or metropoli, in northern America....but nowhere else I may add.That is until this got re-released in the nineties;when it could always be gauranteed to be seen casually placed atop every ikea coffee table beyond canary wharf,alongside those John Fahey CD's.A particularly heinous form of Poundland sophistication.
Yuk! I can just see Nick Cave salivating,or worse, over this,post Birthday Party around 1983.Carefully taking notes, and actually stealing a few songs for that lamentable 'Murder Ballads' LP, y'know, that one with Kylie Minogue on?
This album (The Anthology not fucking Murder Ballads!) launched a thousand earnest young men with acoustic guitars in those neo-neo-neo-folk singer songwriter revivals throughtout the latter 20th and,criminally,again in the early 21st century.The thing that mutated and finally gave us complete bastards like Ed Sheeran and that inexcusably posh "You're Beautiful" idiot. Posh fuckers shouldn't be anywhere around Folk music, or Football, or playing cockney's in that next Netflix atrocity.
The people who made these murky recordings were certainly NOT posh,but they may well have habored opinions somewhat right of Attila The Hun.
This observation is entirely pieced together from long distance,and from watching the uncut version of John Boorman's "Deliverance". I've never met a Hillbilly,or hardly ever met a Redneck, never mind conversed with one. I did ask a local the direction to Flagstaff in some shithole in Arizona once,....he stared zombie-like at me,as if i had just landed from a small planet somewhere in the vacinity of Betelgeuse.One of those Easy Rider moments.
I had a similar moment in a bar in Nevada,when playing pool, i selected something the local yokels would like to hear, and chose AC/DC's 'Back In Black',which actually turned out to be Culture Club,with Boy George exhaling the words to "I'll Tumble For Ya!"
To escape a severe bumming,i fouled the eight-ball and made for the exit to get back to civilisation in.....er.... Vegas?
On a less prejudiced note,and as a very 'English Englishman', one must thank the peasants of the Appalachian mountains for preserving English Folk culture from destruction,as most of those fine English folk tunes were preserved in moonshine within the minds.....(if 'Minds' is the right word?).....of these very same Hillbillies,filed alongside nigger lynchin' and other such Appalachian pastimes.
They also kept the culture(?) and music of the early Americans deep frozen waiting to be thawed out by such proto-beatnik east coast nascent hippie types as Harry Smith.
Got some cracking,and crackling, tunes about muderers and hangings and stuff on here.Its kind of like listening to an entertaining seance with Smith as the medium calling on the spirits of this long dead mountain scum to sing us a little song.
Is there anybody there?.......NOOOOOOOOOOO!
Volume One: The Ballads:
1–Dick Justice - Henry Lee 3:28
2–Nelstone's Hawaiians - Fatal Flower Garden 2:58
3–Clarence Ashley - The House Carpenter 3:16
4–Coley Jones - Drunkard's Special 3:16
5–Bill And Belle Reed - Old Lady And The Devil 3:05
6–Buell Kazee - The Butcher's Boy 3:05
7–Buell Kazee - The Wagoner's Lad 3:05
8–Chubby Parker And His Old Time Banjo - King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O 3:09
9–Uncle Eck Dunford - Old Shoes And Leggins 3:01
10–Richard Burnett And Leonard Rutherford - Willie Moore 3:16
11–Buster Carter & Preston Young - A Lazy Farmer Boy 3:00
12–The Carolina Tar Heels - Peg And Awl 2:59
13–G.B. Grayson - Ommie Wise 3:12
14–Kelly Harrell And The Virginia String Band - My Name Is John Johanna* 3:13 (* this one is missing from the file,so click it to download,or play the mp3 to see if this is your bag or not?)
15–Edward L. Crain - Bandit Cole Younger 2:57
16–Kelly Harrell And The Virginia String Band - Charles Giteau 3:05
17–The Carter Family - John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man 2:57
18–The Williamson Brothers And Curry - Gonna Die With My Hammer In My Hand 3:26
19–Frank Hutchison - Stackalee 3:01
20–Charlie Poole And The North Carolina Ramblers - White House Blues 3:31
21–Mississippi John Hurt - Frankie 3:28
22–William And Versey Smith - When That Great Ship Went Down 2:58
23–The Carter Family - Engine 143 3:19
24–Furry Lewis - Kassie Jones 6:16
25–The Bently Boys - Down On Penny's Farm 2:50
26–The Masked Marvel - Mississippi Boweavil Blues 3:09
27–The Carolina Tar Heels - Got The Farm Land Blues 3:17