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Author Topic: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings  (Read 11870 times)

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Offline misterjones

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Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« on: April 16, 2011, 08:29:47 AM »
I have a few of the Rounder volumes.  I've been listening to the Document Records collection confusingly titled "Leadbelly:  The Remaing [remaining from what?] ARC and Library of Congress Recordings" with dates that would seem to coincide with the Rounder recordings.  I'm finding no connection between the two.  Song titles may be the same, but the times don't match up and the songs I have compared sound different (some more than others).  Anyone know the difference between these sets?  Is there any overlap?  Are the Rounder volumes those entirely recorded under the auspices of the LOC while the Document volumes are those represting the efforts of some sort of ARC/LOC joint venture?  I'm finding the internet to be very unhelpful in this regard.  Anyone have any insight into this mess (or my misunderstanding of something more simple)?
« Last Edit: April 16, 2011, 08:31:19 AM by misterjones »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2011, 10:33:49 AM »
Sorting out Leadbelly recordings on CD is a messy job, IMO. It is unclear to me what is meant by Document using "Remaining" in the disc titles.

Quoting myself from an old Leadbelly thread:

Quote
One thing to keep in mind about Leadbelly is he is discographically complicated.  He recorded so much, and so much is available on different CDs. I should point out that the Wolfe/Lornell biography The Life and Legend of Leadbelly is invaluable for many reasons, not least of all the discography at the back. Highly recommended -- essential for Lead-heads -- and while I'm not sure it's currently available from the publisher, there are some cheap used copies available through Amazon right now.

Armed with that, you will also benefit from Chris Smith's section on Leadbelly in the Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings, in which he does his best to sort through the many Leadbelly recordings currently available and provides valuable info as usual, even if you don't agree with all of his comments. He notes that the Document CDs of the 1935-42 material for the LoC and ARC are generally better than the Rounder LoC discs. Apparently Document copied it from an early tape being prepared for a boxed LP set and the Rounder discs were done later, by which point the original recordings had deteriorated and transfers were iffy. So here's a case where Document clocks in with apparently better sound. Relatively speaking, of course. The book does not deal with the Leadbelly set from JSP that Stuart mentioned and about which I know nothing, discographically speaking. Nor would it deal with the recent release from World Arbiter, obviously, which includes some unreleased radio recordings.

However, like you I find no overlap on the one Rounder disc I have when compared with the Remaining series. So Document means those titles not on the Rounder series? The discography in Wolfe and Lornell notes Document released virtuallyall LeadBelly LoC recordings on 12 LPs. Perhaps Rounder took issue with that.

There is a bare bones discography online, leftover from the late Harry Lewman's site. Only song titles, LoC numbers, recording dates.

http://web.archive.org/web/20060223104318/http://cycad.com/cgi-bin/Leadbelly/discog/

It would be worth it to one day go through that and assign Document and Rounder volumes to the songs

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2011, 11:32:02 AM »
I own the 12 Document LPs (released in one batch June 1990) and are in chronological session order. B&GR4 very helpfully identifies which songs were reissued on the Document LPs and which on Rounder CDs. At a glance Rounder seemed to have cherry picked songs from all across the sessions.

I thought I read a review of a JSP Leadbelly box, which stated it gap filled those songs which Rounder didn't release. If that was the case JSP must have dubbed from the Document LPs.

For interest each Document LP carries the following not:

These recordings were originally made for the Library of Congress during the period extending from 1933 to 1942, under the supervision of John A. Lomax and/or Alan Lomax. The initial session took place at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola while Leadbelly was still a prisoner and the final one was made in Washington, D. C. in 1942. Along the way there were numerous sessions and they occured in a varied number of locations: Wilton, Conn., New York City, Pineville. Ky., Cummings State Prison Farm, Arkansas and Bellwood County Prison Camp. Atlanta, Ga. among them. The sound reproduction is, by today's high fidelity stereophonic standards, rather dim. A great many of the recordings were made in field settings on early, primitive portable disc cutting equipment. This equipment along with various aluminum and acetate discs, though not of the highest quality insofar as sound is concerned, has served to preserve the many brilliant performances of Huddie Ledbetter. A further factor which must he mentioned is that many. if not most, of the recordings hadn't been played for many years prior to our rerecording them onto tape at the Library of Congress. The conditions of these original recordings were, for the most part. extremely had and in some cases had partially deteriorated thus destroying portions of a particular performance. These old recordings were not meant for extended preservation or long life, that appears to be a certainty. In a number of cases the records in this set suffer from various scratches, digs and general uneveness. It should be borne in mind, however, that this set is not offered as an exercise in high fidelity but rather as a musical document worthy of preservation because of it's inherent value as a historical portrait of an important folk artist. Inasmuch as the discs were recorded within time limitations, something which the subsequent advent of tape recording has overcome, duration was of the essence. On some of the longer performances, when the disc would run out Leadbelly would evidently keep performing and in the process of turning the record over some of the performance would be lost. At other times the break between parts of a song would result in a change in Leadbelly's tempo. During many of the sessions it is apparent that the microphone is being moved up and down, from mouth to guitar, with a resultant uneveness. It is sincerely hoped that this will not deter the listener from enjoying the outstanding performances. Huddie Lebetter was frequently recorded by various commercial companies during the same time span in which he made this material for the Library of Congress. Unfortunately the commercial recordings, with few exceptions, do not show Leadbelly at his best. There was a stiffness and an exaggeration which was fortuitously absent from the Library of Congress sessions. It is felt that Leadbelly never sounded as well anywhere else as he did when he was recording for the Library. He appeared relaxed, strong, crisp and creative and it is not unlikely that a totally new evaluation of his artistry will be forthcoming as a result of the release of these, his finest performances.


Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2011, 12:21:57 PM »
Thanks for that, BH. I neglected to look in B&GR4. However, doing so now, I notice they list appearance on Document LP vs. Rounder CD. So we still end up comparing apples and oranges, or perhaps oranges and tangerines. As far as I can tell from a preliminary look at the Document CD catalog online, not all of the Leadbelly LoC recordings appear on Document CDs currently. Haven't gone through the whole list but as an example, from February 1935 Angola Blues (51-A), Roberta (51-B), Careless Love (52-A) don't appear, though did appear on Document LP and on Rounder CDs.

Worth noting that some, though not all, of the earliest LoC recordings from 1933 now appear on Field Recordings Vol 5 Louisiana Texas Bahamas 1933 - 1940 DOCD-5579, not on a dedicated Leadbelly disc.


Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2011, 12:39:42 PM »
Hell, why not start a list. It can later be migrated over to Weeniepedia. I'll break up the posts by year. Later we can fill in what song appears where. These are copied and pasted from the discography referenced above, so will need to be checked against B&GR4 as well.

Library of Congress Recordings 1933

Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana    July 16, 1933
Huddie Ledbetter:   vocal/guitar

119-B-1The Western CowboyDOCD-5579
119-B-2Honey Take a Whiff on MeDOCD-5579
119-B-4Angola BluesDOCD-5579
119-B-5Angola BluesDOCD-5579
119-B-6Frankie and AlbertDOCD-5579
120-A-1IreneDOCD-5579
120-A-2Take a Whiff on MeDOCD-5579
120-A-3You Can't Lose Me ChollyDOCD-5579
120-A-6IreneDOCD-5579
120-A-7IreneDOCD-5579
120-B-5Ella Speed DOCD-5579
« Last Edit: April 22, 2011, 09:21:10 AM by uncle bud »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2011, 12:41:08 PM »
Library of Congress Recordings 1934

Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana    July 1, 1934
Huddie Ledbetter:   vocal/guitar
121-AMister Tom Hughes' TownDOCD-5579
122-A-2I Got Up This Morning, Had to Get Up So SoonDOCD-5579
122-BWestern CowboyDOCD-5579
123-ABlind Lemon BluesDOCD-5579RCD-1097
123-BMatchbox BluesDOCD-5579RCD-1044
124-A-1Midnight SpecialRCD-1044
124-A-2IreneDOCD-5591
124-B-1IreneDOCD-5591
124-B-2Governor O.K. AllenRCD-1044
125-AFrankie and AlbertRCD-1044
125-BElla SpeedRCD-1044
126-A-1Julie Ann JohnsonDOCD-5591
126-A-2You Can't Lose-a-Me ChollyDOCD-5591
126-A-3Take a Whiff on MeDOCD-5591
126-BI'm Sorry MamaRCD-1044

Little Rock, Arkansas    September 27, 1934
Huddie Ledbetter:   vocal/guitar
236-B-3Mister Tom Hughes' TownDOCD-5591RCD-1097
239-A-3Julie Ann JohnsonDOCD-5591


State Farm, Pine Fluff, Arkansas    September 29, 1934
Huddie Ledbetter:   vocal/guitar; Unknown white man   vocal
240-A-4 Julie Ann JohnsonDOCD-5591
240-A-5Lover in the Green Valley

   
State Farm, Tucker, Arkansas    October 1. 1934
Leroy Allen:   vocal-1; Huddie Ledbetter: vocal/guitar
246-B-1 Sweet Babe
246-B-3 Mister Tom Hughes' TownRCD-1097

Gould, Arkansas    October 5, 1934
Huddie Ledbetter:    vocal/guitar
242-B-3Julie Ann JohnsonDOCD-5591


Shreveport, Louisiana    October 15, 1934
Huddie Ledbetter:    vocal/guitar
273-A-1Boll WeevilDOCD-5591


Bellwood Prison Camp, Atlanta, Georgia    December 12, 1934
Huddie Ledbetter   vocal-1/guitar;
Sloan Wright:   dance calls-2
250-B-1The Shreveport Jail-1RCD-1097
250-B-2Julie Ann Johnson-1DOCD-5591
252-A-1Dance Calls-2DOCD-5591
252-A-2This Morning-1
« Last Edit: April 22, 2011, 09:22:57 AM by uncle bud »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2011, 12:52:14 PM »
Library of Congress Recordings 1935

Wilton, Connecticut    January 20, 1935
Huddie Ledbetter:   vocal/guitar
143-ADon't You Love Me No More
143-BHenry Ford Blues


Wilton, Connecticut    January 21, 1935
Huddie Ledhetter:   vocal/guitar
44-AIrene
44-B-1Irene
44-B-2Julie Ann Johnson


Wilton, Connecticut    February 1, 1935
Huddie Ledhetter:   vocal/guitar
45-ATake a Whiff on Me


Wilton, Connecticut    January 20, 1935
Huddie Ledbetter   vocal/guitar with speech-1
45-BSalty Dog
51-AAngola Blues
51-BRoberta
52-ACareless Love
52-BC.C. Rider
53-AGovernor Pat Neff
53-BThirty Days in the Workhouse
54-AElla Speed
54-BElla Speed
127-AFrankie and Albert
127-BFrankie and Albert
128-AWhich Way Do the Red River Run?
128-BGot Up in the Mornin' So Doggone Soon
129-AYou Don't Know My Mind
129-B-1The Western Cowboy
129-B-2Becky Dean
130-AFort Worth and Dallas Blues
130-BGot a Gal in Town with Her Mouth Chock Full of Gold
131-AMary Don't You Weep
131-B-1Mary Don't You Weep
131-B-2Way Over in the Promised Land
132-ADeath Letter Blues-1
133-AMidnight Special
133-BThe Shreveport Jail
134-AEasy Mr. Tom
134-BI Ain't Bothered a Bit --Parts 1 and 2
135-ABoll Weevil
135-BWestern Cowboy
136-AThe Titanic
136-BBlind Lemon Blues
137-AMr. Tom Hughes' Town
137-B-1Mr. Tom Hughes' Town
137-B-2You Cain' Loose-a-Me Cholly
138-AThe Medicine Man
138-BRed Cross Sto'
139-A-1Green Corn
139-A-2The Maid Freed from the Gallows
139-BPo' Howard
140-AAlberta Blues
140-BFo' Day Worry Blues
141-A-1Hesitation Blues
141-A-2Take Me Back
141-BMatchbox Blues
142-ATight Like That
142-B-1Gwine Dig a Hole to Put the Devil in It
142-B-2Old Man Settin' in the Corner Dyin'

Wilton, Connecticut    March 1, 1935
Huddie Ledbetter   vocal/guitar or unaccompanied-1
47-BBlues I Got Make a New-Born Baby Cry
48-A-1Ho Day-1
48-A-2One Dollar Bill. Baby-1


Wilton, Connecticut    March 1935
Huddie Ledbetter:   vocal/guitar or unaccompanied-1
46-AGovernor O.K. Allen
47-ADe Kalb Blues
48-BAin' Goin' Down to de Well No More-1
49-AHa-Ha This-a-Way
49-BAlabama Bound
50-AIn Dem Long Hot Summer Days-1
50-BGo Down, Old Hannah-l
144-AI'm All Out & Down
144-BDe Kalb Blues
145-AHa, Ha Thisaway
145-B-1Dear Old Daddy-1
145-B-2Dear Old Daddy-1
145-B-3Dear Old Daddy-l
145-B-4Dear Old Daddy-1
146-AI'm Gonna Hold It in Her While She's Young and Tender
146-BWhat You Goin' to Do with Your Long Tall Daddy:'
147-ADicklicker's Holler-1
147-BBilly in the Lowlands/Heah, Rattler, Heah
148-AFrankie and Albert
148-BFrankie and Albert
149-ASend Down Your Hand
149-BShorty George
150-AShorty George
150-B-1Pick a Bale o' Cotton
150-B-2Elnora
151-AHa, Ha Thisaway
151-BSend Down Your Hand
152-ADeath Letter Blues
152-BDeath Letter Blues [fragments]
153-AWhere De Sun Done Gone
153-BBring Me a Li'l Water Silvy
154-ADicklicker's Holler
154-BWhoa Back, Buck Goddamn
155-ABilly in the Low Ground
155-BThe Grey Goose
156-AOld Rattler
156-BI'm All Out and Down
157-AFrankie and Albert
157-B-1I Walked Her and Talked Her
157-B-2Billy the Weaver
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 12:17:58 PM by uncle bud »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2011, 12:53:36 PM »
Library of Congress Recordings 1937

Washington, D.C.    June 22, 1937
Huddie Ledbetter:   vocal/guitar or unaccompanied-1
993-A-1Gwine Dig a Hole
993-A-2Polly-Polly-Wee
993-A-3Jawbone Walk
993-BIf It Wasn't for Dicky
994-ALast Night in the Evening
994-B-1Somethin', Somethin' Keeps a Worryin' Me
995-AMonkey Men
995-B-1I Ain't Gonna Ring Dem Yallow Women's Do' Bells-1
995-B-2Rock Island Line-1
995-B-3All Out and Down-l
996-A-1Hello Central
996-A-2Raccoon up the Simmon Tree
996-BAn' Goin' Drink No Mo
997-ANew York City
997-BQueen Mary
998-A-1Turn Your Radio On
998-A-2Julie Ann Johnson
998-B-1The Hindenburg Disaster
998-B-2The Hindenburg Disaster
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 12:33:09 PM by uncle bud »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2011, 12:55:30 PM »
Fewer recordings in the later years, so I've clumped them together here.

Library of Congress Recordings 1938-1942


New York City (probably)    December, 1938
Huddie Ledbetter   vocal/guitar; Sarah Garland:   vocal-1; Jim Garland:   vocal-2

2020-A-1Old Time Religion-1
2020-A-2He's Just the Same Today
2021-BGit on Board
2023-ARock of Ages-1, 2


New York City    December 26, 1938
Huddie Ledbetter   vocal/guitar; Martha Ledbetter   vocal-1

2501-AMama, Did You Bring Me Any Silver?
2501-BLeaving on the Morning Train Blues
2502-A-1Scottsboro Boys
2502-A-2Outshine the Sun-1
2502-B-1Noted Rider Blues
2502-B-2The Bourgeois Blues
2503-A-1Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen-1
2503-A-2Little John Henry
2503-BJohn Henry
2504-AJohn Henry
2504-BEva


Washington, D.C.    August 23, 1940
Huddie Ledbetter:   vocal/guitar/speech-l/unaccompanied-2; Alan Lomax:   speech-3

4469-A-(a)Monologue on T.B.-1,3
4469-A-1Last Night in the Evening
4469-A-2T.B. Blues
4469-A-3How Long?
4469-A-4When the Train Comes Along
4469-B-(a)Monologue on Square Dances (or) Sooky Jumps-1,3
4469-B-1Po' Howard
4469-B-2Dance Calls (including "A Dollar Bill: Baby Won't You Buy Any Shoes")
4469-B-3Gwine Dig a Hole to Put the Devil in It
4469-B-4Tight Like That
4469-B-5Green Corn
4470-A-(a)Monologue On (The) Blues-1,2.3
4470-A-1Sail On, Little Girl
4470-A-2Red Cross Sto'-2
4470-B-(a)Monologue on the Mourner's Bench-1,2,3
4470-B-1Hallelujah-2
4470-B-2Backslider, Fare You Well-2
4470-B-3Amazing Grace-2
4470-B-4Must I Be Carried to the Sky on Flowered Beds of Ease?-2
4470-B-5Amazing Grace-2
4470-B-6Down in the Valley to Pray-2
447 I-A-1Meeting at the Building-2
4471-A-2When That Train Comes Along-2
4471-A-3The Blood Done Signed My Name-2
4471-A-4Witness for My Lord-2
4471-A-5Outshine the Sun-2
4471-B-1Let It Shine on Me
4471-B-2Way Over in the Promised Land
4471-B-3Oh, Something on My Mind
4471-B-4How Long?
4471-B-5Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
4471-B-6Ain't Goin' Study War No More
4471-B-7Join the Band
4471-B-8Old Time Religion
4471-B-9Stand Your Test in Judgement
4471-B-10Must I Be Carried to the Sky on Flowered Beds of Ease?
4472-A-1Run, Sinners-2
4472-A-2Ride On
4472-A-3Prayer-1,2
4472-A-4Christmas-1,2
4472-A-5John Henry
4472-B-1John Hardy
4472-B-2Howard Hughes
4472-B-3Bottle Up and Go
4472-B-4Cowboy Song
4473-A-1Leaving Blues
4473-A-2The Roosevelt Song
4473-A-3The Scottsboro Boys
4473-A-4Don't You Love Me No More?
4473-B-1Noted Rider Blues
4473-B-2The Gallows Song
4473-B-3So Doggone Soon
4473-B-4Ham and Eggs-2
4473-B-5Bottle Up and Go [fragment]


City College of New York    January 20, 1942
Huddie Ledbetter   vocal/guitar

6407-A-1Dear Mr. President
6407-A-2President Roosevelt
6407-B-1Mr. Hitler

Washington, D.C    May 11, 1942
Huddie Ledbetter   vocal/guitar; Brownie McGhee   - guitar; Sonny Terry - harmonica
6502-A-3How Long
6502-B-1T.B. Blues


« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 12:38:30 PM by uncle bud »

Offline misterjones

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2011, 03:30:16 PM »
For interest each Document LP carries the following note:

. . . Huddie Lebetter was frequently recorded by various commercial companies during the same time span in which he made this material for the Library of Congress. Unfortunately the commercial recordings, with few exceptions, do not show Leadbelly at his best. There was a stiffness and an exaggeration which was fortuitously absent from the Library of Congress sessions. It is felt that Leadbelly never sounded as well anywhere else as he did when he was recording for the Library. He appeared relaxed, strong, crisp and creative and it is not unlikely that a totally new evaluation of his artistry will be forthcoming as a result of the release of these, his finest performances.
 [emphasis added]

I agree 100% with the above assessment.  Leadbelly's (at least early) LOC recordings have an emotional expressiveness I have not been able to find in any of his other recordings, where he just seems to shout and strum his guitar like a folk and blues music machine.  I can't speak to the quality of the transfers made by Rounder, but those recording (the ones I have, at least) have that expressive quality in the performances.  The Document recordings I've listened to so far have the harshness of the commercial recordings.  I'm guessing Rounder has the rights to the true LOC recordings (like Document once did for their LPs) and the current Document CDs represent the result of some sort of separate LOC/ARC commercial venture.  I'll listen to more of the Documents, but I'm liking what I hear so far.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2011, 03:31:40 PM by misterjones »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2011, 04:10:24 PM »
ARC and Library of Congress recordings are separate in all the discographies. ARC was a commercial contract. Document combines them on CD presumably because of chronology.

Also, as noted above, Document released all or nearly all of the LoC recordings on LP. A look at Blues and Gospel Records shows LoC titles appearing on both Document LP and Rounder CD, with far more titles appearing on Document LP, showing Rounder cherrypicking as Bunker Hill points out. But those Doc LP releases do not seem to have survived through to Document CDs.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2011, 05:47:38 PM by uncle bud »

Offline misterjones

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2011, 07:06:35 PM »
Then all I can say is what a shameful mess.  Some industrious soul needs to do a vinyl rip of that 12 LP set.  Despite the haphazard nature of the Rounder CDs (they don't appear to be in chronological order and there are no discographical details included), I wouldn't mind them so much if I knew the sound quality was good.  Something tells me the Document LPs are superior.  Anyone know?
« Last Edit: April 16, 2011, 07:12:42 PM by misterjones »

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2011, 12:20:45 AM »
I guess the first attempt at issuing this material was the 1966 Elektra 3 LP box set compiled and annotated by Lawrence Cohen. The twenty five page booklet contains several illustrations that were being published for the first time (e.g. the equipment used to record Leadbelly) along with transcriptions of all songs. Cohn obviously had a lot of cooperation:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:   Mrs. Rae Korson, Head, Archive of Folk Song, The Library of Congress; her assistant Joseph Hickerson and
Robert Carneal, Chief Engineer, Recording Laboratory, The Library of Congress for their constant cooperation, learned assistance and warm personal friendship.

Mr. John Reynolds: for opening his vast collection of Leadbelly lore and memorabilia to me.

Mr. Jac Holzman: for the confidence and understanding displayed in allowing me to carry this project through "in my own way."

Mrs. Martha Ladbetter who graciously assisted in the transcribing of some of the more difficult texts.

Mr. Alan Lcsmax and the late John A. Lomax; for having had recorded Huddie Ledbetter.

COMPILERS NOTE: The omission of Leadbelly's renditions of childrens' tongs and play-party material has been a purposeful one because of their ready availability on numerous commercial recordings.

Lawrence Cohn

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2011, 09:43:52 AM »
Despite the haphazard nature of the Rounder CDs (they don't appear to be in chronological order and there are no discographical details included)

The Rounder disc I have, Volume 1 - Midnight Special, does include the Library of Congress numbers (accession numbers) after each title on the back cover of the booklet. So assuming the others have the same, to determine further discographical details for songs on the Rounder series, you can match the LoC number on the booklet to the numbers in the lists above or in Blues and Gospel Records.

Offline misterjones

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Re: Leadbelly's Library of Congress Recordings
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2011, 10:59:16 AM »
Thanks, but this might be limited to volumes 1-3.  That's better than nothing, though.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2011, 11:37:44 AM by misterjones »

 


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