Lead Belly – Lead Belly’s Last Sessions (1994)

Lead Belly - Lead Belly's Last Sessions (1994)
Artist: Lead Belly
Album: Lead Belly’s Last Sessions
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
Year Of Release: 1994
Quality: FLAC (tracks+.cue)

Tracklist:
CD 1:
01. Yes, I Was Standing In The Bottom (1:40)
02. Yes, I’m Going Down To Louisiana (0:42)
03. I Ain’t Going Down To The Well No More (1:23)
04. Dick Ligger’s Holler (0:43)
05. Miss Liza Jane (2:08)
06. Dog Latin Song (0:52)
07. Leaving Blues (0:31)
08. Go Down, Old Hannah (4:59)
09. Blue Tail Fly (2:20)
10. Nobody In This World Is Better Than Us (1:26)
11. We’re In The Same Boat, Brother (2:18)
12. Looky, Looky Yonder (1:33)
13. Jolly O’ The Ransom (0:57)
14. Old Ship Of Zion (1:51)
15. Bring Me A Little Water, Silvy (1:27)
16. Mistreatin’ Mamma (1:24)
17. Black Betty (1:52)
18. Ain’t Goin Down To The Well No More (2:45)
19. I’m Going Back Down In Louisiana (0:28)
20. I Don’t Know You, What Have I Done (3:11)
21. Rock Island Line (1:03)
22. Old Man, Will Your Dog Catch A Rabbit (1:29)
23. Shorty George (0:46)
24. Stewball (2:34)
25. Bottle Up & Go (1:25)
26. You Know I Got To Do It (0:52)
27. Ain’t It A Shame To Go Fishin’ On A Sunday (1:21)
28. I Ain’t Gonna Drink Anymore (2:37)
29. Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues (2:18)
30. My Lindy Lou (1:08)
31. I’m Thinking Of A Friend (3:22)
32. He Never Said A Mumbling Word (2:28)
33. I Don’t Want No More Of Army Life (3:59)
34. In The World (2:01)
35. I Want To Go Home (1:26)

CD 2:
01. New Beria (3:08)
02. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (3:11)
03. John Henry (4:59)
04. Salty Dog (3:29)
05. National Defense Blues (3:30)
06. Easy, Mr. Tom (2:08)
07. Relax Your Mind (4:09)
08. Bottle Up And Go (3:36)
09. Polly Wolly Wee (1:45)
10. Pig Latin Boogie v2 (2:10)
11. Hawaiian Song (2:15)
12. Drinkin Lum Y Alla (1:50)
13. The Grey Goose (2:17)
14. Silver City Bound (6:01)
15. The Titanic (5:14)
16. Death Letter Blues (3:30)
17. Mary Don’t You Weep (3:28)
18. He Never Said A Mumblin’ Word (2:49)

CD 3:
01. Midnight Special (2:11)
02. Boll Weevil Song (3:06)
03. Careless Love (6:29)
04. Easy Rider (3:00)
05. Cry For Me (3:31)
06. Ain’t Going To Drink No More (3:54)
07. Birmingham Jail (2:56)
08. Old Riley (1:46)
09. Julie Ann Johnson (1:11)
10. It’s Tight Like That (3:12)
11. 4, 5 & 9 (4:53)
12. Good Morning Babe, How Do You Do? (0:41)
13. Jail House Blues (4:31)
14. Well, You Know I Had to Do It (2:56)
15. Irene (1:22)
16. 25 Cent Dude (2:20)
17. How Come You Do Me Like You Do? (3:24)
18. Hello Central (5:29)
19. Hesitation Blues (2:17)
20. I’ll Be Down On The Last Bread Wagon (3:35)

CD 4:
01. Somebody’s Diggin’ My Potatoes (4:00)
02. Springtime In The Rockies (3:02)
03. Chinatown (1:12)
04. Rock Island Line (1:57)
05. Backwater Blues (3:27)
06. Sweet Mary (3:12)
07. Irene (2:44)
08. Easy, Mr. Tom (2:16)
09. In the Evening, When The Sun Goes Down (2:54)
10. I’m Alone Because I Love You (2:54)
11. House Of The Rising Sun (2:23)
12. Mary Don’t You Weep (1:58)
13. Talk About Fannin Street (3:41)
14. Fannin Street (3:36)
15. Sugared The Beer (1:40)
16. Didn’t Old John Cross The Water (2:01)
17. Nobody’s Knows When You Are Down And Out (3:19)
18. Bully Of The Town (2:08)
19. Sweet Jenny Lee (1:54)
20. Yellow Gal (2:04)
21. He Was The Man (3:48)
22. We’re In The Same Boat. Brother (4:16)
23. Leaving Blues (2:36)

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The press release calls this “The most famous and sought-after Blues & Folk recordings ever made”; these 96 tracks (two unissued) have inspired American artists as diverse as Neil Young and William Styron. Nearly all of Leadbelly’s most famous songs are here- Rock Island Line; Midnight Special; Goodnight, Irene; Easy Rider, etc.-plus gripping storytelling, all recorded on tape in 1948 for the only time in his career (hence better fidelity and uninterrupted recording). These four CDs come in a limited edition slipcase with extensive notes, rare photos, bio and discography.

Leadbelly’s Last Sessions is a remarkable document. Recorded over the course of three nights in 1948, approximately one year before his death, Sessions constitutes the only commercial recordings of Leadbelly ever made on magnetic tape. The sound here is still primitive by most standards, but it’s a vast improvement over the quality of his earlier sides. On this four-disc collection, Huddie Ledbetter sets down as much of his repertoire as he could, from field hollers, blues, and country & western songs to children’s tunes, ballads, autobiographical pieces, and popular hits of the day. The tape continues to roll between takes, catching Leadbelly’s shifts of moods and changes of interest. He didn’t know these would be his last recordings, of course, but he seems to have saved something special for these performances, which are as freewheeling, charming, and authoritative as anything he ever recorded.
Daniel Durchholz

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