One of the nicest trends in blues is the exploration of modern artists into songbooks of legendary performers who came before them. One such homage that stands out is the exploration of Leadbelly’s repertoire by Long John Baldry.
Baldry comes from the '60s British invasion of artists with a greater appreciation and influence of blues and roots music than many of America’s recording artists of the day. On Remembering Leadbelly he hits the ground running with the attack and spirit that so symbolized Leadbelly.
Baldry successfully bridges the gap between emulating a great artist and bringing his own voice to the recording. You will never feel like Baldry is either simply trying to imitate or replicate Leadbellyand at the same time, there will be no feeling of an artist who doesn’t care about the source of his remembrance. This is most evident on Baldry’s takes on “Rock Island Line” and “Birminghamton Jail.” While understandable, it’s a bit disappointing that he didn’t choose to record “Goodnight Irene,” Leadbelly’s signature tune. Sometimes artists feel that signature tunes are best left alone; however, I feel that Baldry would have knocked it out of the park and recorded a version that would make Leadbelly smile.
Also, curiously included on this recording is an interview with Alan Lomax, who is credited with finding Leadbelly and you have more of a complete picture of the artist being paid homage to then your traditional tribute-type record.
Remembering Leadbelly will appease fans of great ‘traditional’ blues, as well as serve as a top-of-the-line modern day exploration of a legend and his music.
Track Listing: 1. Lining Track
2. Gallows Pole
3. Midnight Special
4. Take This Hammer
5. Rock Island Line
6. God Morning Blues
7. Go Down Old hannah
8. Birminghamton Jail
9. Here Rattler
10. We're in the Same Boat Brother
11. Easy Rider Blues
12. John Hardy
13. Digging My Potatoes
14. On a Christmas Day
15. Oh Mary Don't You Weep
16. We Shall Walk Through the Valley
17. Alan Lomax Interview
18. Long John Baldry Interview
Personnel: Long John Baldry - vocals and 12 string guitar
Kathi McDonald - vocals
Hans Stamer - vocals, harmonica and steel guitar
Chris Nordquist - drums and percussion
John Lee Sanders - keys and organ
Andreas Schuld - guitars, percussion and vocals
Norm Fisher - bass
Jesse Zubot - fiddle
Butch Coulter - harmonica
Tom Colclough - clarinet
Tyee Montessori Elementary School Choir of Vancouver, BC -
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