“Work Songs Of The U.S.A.” by Lead Belly - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1942Album Chart of the Decade: 1940s

TJR says

Consists of three shellac 78s all recorded in January 1942 and issued a couple of months later. Here, Lead Belly delivers six songs of the working man. As far as I see it, this is Lead Belly’s fourth consecutive album to be themed. Don’t be telling me about no first concept albums in the 60s or otherwise! In the liner notes, each song came with a background introduction. Of “Old Man” they read: “Shanties sung at the levee are about the rivers and seas on which the boats travel. Many longshoremen find it easier to carry their loads from the dock to the boat with the aid of a song” The album features the rhythms of manual labour, with lyrics often addressing the relations of workers to bosses, and blacks to whites. His natural audience, the poor working class, were unlikely to have heard the songs – Moe Asch’s invoice records tell there were 304 copies shifted during the whole year. Sales did not match reviews - a familiar old tale. Critic Charles Edward Smith gave “Work Songs of the U.S.A.” a highly favorable review in Jazz magazine, calling the record “superbly done.” The world’s still listening several decades later – in the final analysis, good art prevails over the greenbacks every time.

The Jukebox Rebel

A [02:13] 6.7.png Lead Belly - Take This Hammer [1942 version] (Huddie Ledbetter, Traditional) Folk
B [02:04] 6.4.png Lead Belly - Corn Bread Rough (Huddie Ledbetter) Folk
C [02:04] 7.4.png Lead Belly - Rock Island Line [1942 version] (Huddie Ledbetter, Alan Lomax) Folk
D [02:31] 6.2.png Lead Belly - Ol’ Riley (Traditional) Folk
E [02:12] 5.6.png Lead Belly - Haul Away, Joe (Traditional) Folk
F [02:30] 5.6.png Lead Belly - Old Man (Traditional) Folk
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