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  • RVN211 - 2xCDs

Finally available again, now at a much cheaper price. Harry Smith was by all accounts the most eccentric of characters, a polymath who would count avant-garde filmmaker, alchemist, occultist, folklorist, painter, magician, archivist and expert on string figures, paper airplanes, and Ukrainian painted eggs among his many, many vocations. However in recent years he has become best known for a short series of folk music collections. In three volumes, Smith collected up some of the finest American Primitive music the world had ever heard and this anthology went down in history as an essential part of the development of American music. However there was a fourth part which had remained unissued until 2000, when the ever-reliable Revenant label finally gave the collection the lavish treatment it deserved and allowed the world to hear Smith's final gift to music. Now after huge demand Revenant have pressed the double-disc package once more, giving those of us who missed it the first time around another chance to sink into a world of crackling folk music, proto-blues and rock 'n roll, early country and vintage bluegrass. For a child of the 1980s this is like an alien landscape to me, but it's such an important part of musical development that I can hear even now how these early ideas have impacted on music being made in 2007. It's only in the last few years that folk music has made a real comeback in the eyes of the contemporary music scene, and since the folk music we're hearing now is a reaction to folk music of the 60s, which itself was a reaction to the folk music of the 20s and 30s it's almost crucial to discover the origins. Across two discs we are introduced to fabulous selections from The Carter Family, Leadbelly, Jesse James, Robert Johnson, Minnie Wallace, Uncle Dave Macon and many more artists but it's fruitless for me to go into this track by track, as each track is essential and important in its own way. This anthology needs to be bought, enjoyed and discovered by anyone who claims to have an interest in music, that's all there is to it.



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