Various Artists - Art Of Field Recording Vol.2, The (50 Years Of Traditional American Music) (Music CD)

Release Date: 13 December 2010
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Like the first volume of Art of Field Recording, this second installment is a four-CD box set of considerable size and scope of field recordings by Art Rosenbaum. The 107 tracks, recorded between 1956 and 2008 (the very year this set was issued), cover an enormous range of American traditional music. Cajun, Appalachian folk, country blues, gospel, Sacred Harp singing, sacred steel guitar, and a cappella vocals are among the styles documented. It might not quite get to everything, but it certainly captures plenty of approaches that had little to no exposure in the conventional commercial music business over this half century, yet were preserved and performed outside of the media spotlight. Like its predecessor, it's also divided into four separate thematic discs, though these are slightly different this time around. The first and second CDs are (as they were in Vol. 1) devoted to a "survey" disc encompassing a bunch of styles and a disc of religious material; the third and fourth go into different directions by presenting a CD of "accompanied songs and ballads," and another wholly of "unaccompanied songs and ballads," or songs performed a cappella. A few performers here and there will be known to folk fans (Cajun musicians the Balfa Brothers and Nathan Abshire, bluesman Scrapper Blackwell, Alice Gerrard, Buell Kazee), but mostly these are musicians without commercial profiles who make music because they want to, happening to get these performances taped by Rosenbaum.
Art of Field Recording, Vol. 2 is of a similar level of quality as Vol. 1 -- which, it should be noted, might not be to everyone's taste, even folk and traditional music fans. These are field recordings spanning several decades, so the fidelity, while always listenable, isn't always sparkling. The performances are often on the spontaneous and even roughly stark side, and while that's justly hailed as part of their emotional impact, it doesn't always make for captivating listening, especially in such a lengthy dose. And while it seems a little spoilsport to make this kind of complaint about traditional music, some of the songs are pretty shopworn -- "John Hardy" might be a very significant folk song on its own merits, but do listeners really need to hear yet another version, and hardly one of the most distinguished ones? The set's greatest value is a folkloric one that lies in its sheer diversity, with an unselfconsciousness and ease that have become rarer commodities in music, not to say life in general, in the late 20th century and early 21st century. Plus, there are occasional performances (even if these tend to be the more polished ones) that would stand as enjoyable pieces outside of the context of this box set, like the Chancey Brothers' guitar-banjo duet "Mulberry Gap/Cumberland Gap"; Golden River Grass' energetic bluegrass-gospel hybrid (with harmonica) "Over in the Glory Land"; and the Myers Family & Friends' quite movingly sung and played selections, which are a nicely swinging blend of Appalachian folk with a bluegrass tinge. And, though an entire disc of a cappella singing might be too much for some listeners, it's more diverse and listenable than many would expect, with a few surprisingly rambunctious items; noted singer/songwriter Greg Brown even makes a surprise appearance on it, dueting with his grandmother on a 1978 recording of "Two Little Boys." The packaging is superb (and the element of this release that will get it far more attention than most such folkloric compilations), the large-sized 96-page booklet including both detailed background information and more than 100 photos and illustrations. ~ Richie Unterberger
Release Date: 13 December 2010

1. La Grondeuse (the Scolding Woman)
2. Blues
3. 12th Street Rag
4. Danish Galop
5. Broke Down Engine
6. J'ai Passe Devant To Porte
7. Colinda
8. Garfield
9. Devil Song [Child 275]
10. Unnamed Tune
11. Going Across the Prarie
12. Muddy Roads of Georgia
13. Georgia Blues
14. Bily Staffer (the State of Arkansas [Laws H1]
15. Cindy In the Summer Time
16. General Lee's Surrender
17. Shortnin' Bread
18. Free Little Bird
19. Soldier & the Lady
20. Big Road Blues
21. Harlan County Farewell Tune (Rambling Hobo)
22. Marmadukes Hornpipe
23. Jonah
24. Turkey In the Straw
25. Paddy On the Turnpike
26. Medley Play Party Songs In This Ring/I'd Rather Be a Farmer'
27. Medley Mulberry Gap/Cumberland Gap
28. Fred Roger's Reel
29. Goin' Where the Monon Crosses the Yellow Dog
30. Welcome Home
31. River of Jordan
32. Brother You Ought T've Been There
33. New Prospect
34. No Man Can Love Me Like Jesus
35. He's Calling Me
36. Out of My Bondage
37. Mother Tell Me of the Angels
38. No Room At the Hotel
39. Let's Have a Family Prayer
40. Over In the Glory Land Golden River Cross
41. Charge To Keep I Have
42. How Long the Train Been Gone
43. Lord Remember Me
44. Eve & Adam (Pickin' Up Leaves)
45. There's a Man Going Around Taking Names
46. Savior Don't You Pass Me By
47. Oh That Terrible Day
48. I Know I Got Religion
49. Dry Bones
50. Walk With Me
51. I Wish I Was a Mole In the Ground
52. Going To Georgia
53. Southern Texas
54. Raise a Ruckus Tonight
55. Rambling Boy
56. Want To Go To Cuba Can't Go Now
57. Boats Up the River
58. Hog Drivers
59. As I Walked Out One Morning In Spring
60. Devilish Mary
61. Barbara Allen
62. Steamboat Bill
63. John Henry
64. John Henry
65. John Hardy
66. Old Joe Clark
67. Miller's Will
68. On Top of Old Smoky
69. Last Payday At Coal Creek
70. Wreck On the Cc&O Road
71. Quit That Ticklin' Me
72. Going To the Country (Some Kind of Blues)
73. Talking Blues
74. Don't Go Riding Down That Old Texas Trail
75. Ring Ching Ching
76. Fair & Tender Maidens
77. Bird's Song
78. Elfin Knight [Child 2]
79. Gypsy Davy [Child 200]
80. Black Jack Davy [Child 200]
81. Black Jack Davy [Child 200]
82. Battle of Stone River
83. Froggy Went a Courting
84. Factory Girl
85. I'm a Noble Soldier
86. Young Man's Lament
87. Butcher's Boy
88. Lady Lye
89. Lullabies
90. Utah Carl
91. Billy Button
92. Ring Plays
93. Mohawk's Love Song
94. Shenandoah
95. Two Little Boys
96. Down In the Arkansas
97. I'll Drink & Be Jolly
98. We'll March Around the Wall
99. John Came Home
100. Farm Out West
101. Frankie & Johnny
102. Farmer's Son Mistress
103. Famous Wedding
104. Medley Sail Away/Greenback
105. Lame Soldier
106. Pearl Bryan
107. Sing Sing What'll I Sing

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Catalogue No: DTD12CD