In the late 1940s, avant-garde filmmaker, artist, and mystic Harry Smith scoured his massive collection of 78 rpm blues, country, cajun, jazz, and gospel records to compile what would become one of the most important collections of recorded music in history. The Anthology of American Folk Music, a six-album set with extensive liner notes was released in 1952 by Folkways Records. It was essentially a bootleg and the complete licensing of all the tracks wouldn't be worked out until 1997 when Smithsonian Folkways Recordings reissued the material on CD. The original LPs were kindling for the mid-century folk and blues revival and brought artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, The Memphis Jug Band (above), and countless other pioneering roots musicians to the ears of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Garcia and so many more.
"We all knew every word of every song on it, including the ones we hated," Van Ronk has said.
The 1997 CD box set is fantastic, but now, after decades out of print, the vinyl has been reissued in four limited volumes by Mississippi Records, a glorious tiny record label (and store!) in Portland, Oregon. If you dig wax (200 gram, baby!), this is an absolutely essential addition to your collection.
I purchased mine directly from Mississippi Records but they may be out of stock already. If so, try your local independent record shop or perhaps one of the Amazon third party sellers. And if you really search, you might still locate one of the complete sets that comes in a wood slipcase!
The legendary Mavis Staples.
The Internet is always finding arbitrary new ways to compile ranked lists of musicians and their songs. Sure, the content mill demands it, as seen on Pitchfork, AV Club, Ranker, and so many other sites that have built their reputations on such systems. But it’s our fault, too— we, the music-loving audience that we are, […]
Greta Thunberg's Joan of Arc-grade tongue-lashing to the world's leaders at the UN makes for some incredible mashup possibilities: it's not merely that her excellent delivery lent itself to death metal, but also her use of the phrase "right here, right now," was tailor-made for insertion into Fatboy Slim's track of the same name -- […]
Remember when the default state of your online presence was anonymity? That’s not so clear-cut anymore, and the worst part is you may not even know who is using your data or what they’re using it for. Small wonder that so many people are choosing to surf through virtual private networks. VPNs filter web access […]
Get ready for the stream of your dreams, binge-watchers. There’s a contest afoot, and at stake is a lifetime subscription to Netflix. All you have to do is sign up, and you’re entered to win this ultimate Netflix plan. When does it expire? Only when you do. And hey, just in case you need something […]
There’s overwhelming support for clean energy, and the planet is giving us more reasons to invest in renewable power sources with every passing year. Even in the most inhospitable areas, wind and solar can provide a good chunk of our power, if not all of it. So why aren’t we all taking advantage of it? […]