“Lead Belly Sings Ballads Of Beautiful Women And Bad Men” by Lead Belly - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1944Album Chart of the Decade: 1940s

TJR says

With Asch Records being hampered with governmental wartime constraints on Shellac (their allocation was small compared to others), it was perhaps no surprise that Lead Belly drifted back to the label which had launched his album career back in 1939. This 4 disc set was recorded in a one-day session for Musicraft Records in New York City on the 17th February, and contains what’s regarded by many as one of his very finest recordings, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” which is very fine indeed. My favourite track here has to be “John Hardy”, a ballad of African American origin that was popular around the turn of the century and has become one of the most frequently performed American folk songs in both black and white traditions. It is based on the story of an actual murder case from West Virginia: Hardy was tried for murder, found guilty, and hanged in Welch, McDowell County, on Friday, January 19, 1894, just one day short of young Huddie’s 7th birthday! It’s a poignant reminder of just how much of a late starter Lead Belly was when it came to creating his rich, deep recording legacy. Having worked it out on his accordion during an Asch session 4 months earlier, he was nailing down the definitive version right here on this set. All in, this album’s a nice clean recording and Lead Belly’s on good form, as spirited and gallus as any 56 year-old anywhere. His Musicraft sessions have stood the test of time well. This album signifies the end of the line as far as Lead Belly's “A-list” album discography goes. From hereon, all of his (many) albums include material which is either wholly or partly re-compiled or re-worked from the existing A-list, or else it's out of date.

The Jukebox Rebel

A [03:03] 5.7.png Lead Belly - Yellow Gal (Huddie Ledbetter) Folk
B [02:54] 6.0.png Lead Belly - When The Boys Were Out On The Western Plains (Huddie Ledbetter) Country
C [03:04] 6.3.png Lead Belly - Roberta [1944 version] (Huddie Ledbetter, Alan Lomax, John Lomax) Blues / Rhythm n Blues
D [03:10] 7.6.png Lead Belly - John Hardy [1944 version] (Huddie Ledbetter) Folk
E [02:59] 7.3.png Lead Belly - Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (Huddie Ledbetter) Folk
F [03:13] 6.8.png Lead Belly - In New Orleans (Traditional, Huddie Ledbetter) Folk
G [03:03] 6.5.png Lead Belly - Bill Brady (Huddie Ledbetter) Folk
H [02:43] 6.2.png Lead Belly - Pretty Flowers In Your Backyard (Huddie Ledbetter) Blues / Rhythm n Blues
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