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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Jack (who is called Jack) 100 Top Folk/Blue Albums of the Century (112* d) RE: 100 Top Folk/Blue Albums of the Century 23 Aug 99

This list is difficult, partly because so many compilations have been released by now that you can almost achieve better with a list of 'anthology' recordings than you can by listing original source recordings.

Also, a lot of the good old stuff was released in short play single format and not on LP album format. So listing an old recording from its original source limits you to a single song.

On the other hand, while its important that 'complete collections' exist, I don't necessarily think that (for example) 'The complete recordings of Robert Johnson' is more important in the current context just by virtue of its completeness.

Yea, yea, your right, I am putting off choosing.

Here's what I think. There are a few specific albums that should be included.

The Anthology of American Folk Music edited by Harry Smith. It may not be the most comprehesive collection. It may not be the most literate collection. It certainly was not the first collection. However, now as it did then, Smith's work, more than any other rings out across the landscape of American Folk Music with the cry of GOLD! THERE"S GOLD IN THEM THERE HILLS!. LOOK! LISTEN! HUNDREDS OF SONGS OF EVERY KIND, AND PLENTY MORE WHERE THEY CAME FROM! While the Lomax's and their kind may have built a priceless library of recordings, Smith in this one effort may have done something even more important. He mailed us all our own private treasure map, where each song marks an 'X' labeled DIG HERE FOR THE TREASURE.

Let the Circle Be Unbroken, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. (If nothing else this album is indispensible for the opportinity it gives to hear the musicians talking about the music between takes. To hear Watson and Travis talking about what they like about each other, to just hear Maybelle Carter, or Roy Acuffs admonitions about 'getting it right the first time'... priceless )

After that you can probably just pick one album each from the following artists.


Robert Johnson Blind Blake Elmore James Mississippi John Hurt Rev Gary Davis (Also under Gospel) Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee Big Bill Broonzy

Folk Skillet Likkers Joseph Spence Jean Ritchie McColl & Lloyd (heck, take two, they're big) Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers or Memphis Jug Band DL Maynard & Dewey Balfa

Gospel Blind Boys of Alabama Any Sacred Harp collection (Lomax will do) Mahalia Jackson Thomas (the indispensable) Dorsey

Man, I'm running out of steam. There's just too much. I haven't even got to the Celtic, African, Slavic, Greek, South American, or Asian traditions.

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