Hard Times Come Again No More, Vol. 1 & 2: Early American Rural Songs of Hard Times and Hardship

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1. THE BENTLEY BOYS, Down On Penny’s Farm
2. BLIND ALFRED REED, How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live
3.LANE HARDIN,Hard Time Blues
4. ERNEST STONEMAN, All I Got’s Gone
5. SLIM SMITH, Bread Line Blues
6. ALEC JOHNSON, Miss Meal Cramp Blues
7. KELLY HARRELL, My Name Is John Johanna
8. DAVE MCCARN, Serves ‘Em Fine
9. J.D. SHORT, It’s Hard Time
10. UNCLE DAVE MACON, All In Down And Out
11. RUTHERFORD & FOSTER, Richmond Blues
12. ELDER CURRY & HIS CONGREGATION, Hard Times
13. COFER BROTHERS, Georgia Hobo
14. BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON, One Dime Blues
15. FIDDLIN’ JOHN CARSON, Dixie Boll Weevil
16. CHUBBY PARKER, See The Black Clouds A’Breakin’ Over Yonder
17. SCRAPPER BLACKWELL, Down And Out Blues
18. EDWARD L. CRAIN, Starving To Death On A Government Claim
19. BARBECUE BOB, We Sure Got Hard Times
20. SAMANTHA BUMGARNER, Georgia Blues
21. MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT, Blue Harvest Blues
22. DIXON BROTHERS, Weaver’s Life
23. GRAHAM BROTHERS, Hard Times Come Again No More

yazoo

1. ALLEN BROTHERS, Price Of Cotton Blues
2. COFER BROTHERS, Keno The Rent Man
3.BARBECUE BOB, Bad Time Blues
4. UNCLE DAVE MACON & SAM MCGEE, Wreck Of The Tennessee Gravey Train
5. CLAYTON MCMICHEN & RILEY PUCKETT, The Arkansas Sheik
6. PEG LEG HOWELL & JIM HILL, Away From Home
7. EARLY JOHNSON & HIS DIXIE ENTERTAINERS, I’m Satisfied
8. CAROLINA TAR HEELS, Got The Farm Land Blues
9. BO CARTER & WALTER VINSON, Times Is Tight Like That
10. FISHER HENDLEY, Weave Room Blues
11. W.A. LINDSEY & ALVIN CONDER, Boll Weavil
12. JOE WILLIAMS, Providence Help The Poor People
13. MCGEE BROTHERS, The Tramp
14. DAVE MCCARN, Cotton Mill Colic
15. CHARLEY JORDAN, Starvation Blues
16. ERNEST STONEMAN, Broke Down Section Hand
17. JULES ALLEN, Little Old Sod Shanty
18. SLEEPY JOHN ESTES, Down South Blues
19. RED BRUSH ROWDIES, No One’s Hard Up But Me
20. LEE BROTHERS, Cotton Mill Blues
21. BLIND BLAKE, No Dough Blues
22. CHARLIE MCCOY & BOB CARTER, The Northern Starvers Are Returning Home
23. JIM BAIRD, Them Good Old Times Are Coming Back Again

Hard Times Come Again No More: Early American Rural Songs of Hard Times and Hardship
—————————————–Classic Recordings from the 1920s and 30s
Released on Yazoo Records, 1998 (YAZOO 2036, 2037)
This wonderful compilation from the fine people at Yazoo is an amazing thing. It plays like an audio documentary that should be essential listening for anyone who holds citizenship in the United States, as well as those who don’t but like to go around talking about how all Americans are straight-laced Puritans who worship money. These songs are akin to oral histories and testimonies from people all too often left out of those elementary history textbooks, even today. The people that were hurt most by the Great Depression because they didn’t have much to begin with; a critique of capitalism that took place in a context far removed from halls of erudite intellectuals or legislative debates. If Eugene V. Debs had an extensive record collection, if the May Day Riots (both 1894 and 1919) and the Haymarket Riots had an anachronistic soundtrack – they might have sounded like this. An anachronism because these songs were committed for posterity after those incidents had passed, but as the notes point out, the Stephen Foster song from which this collection takes its title dates from the Civil War. And the artists and recordings presented here do not hail from the Midwestern locales of those aforementioned events, but come from the post-Reconstruction South.

The liner notes (written by Charles Wolfe and Don Kent) and are up to Yazoo’s usual standards, and tackle the difficult task of discussing the more than 40 songs included here. It is worth noting, however, that the notes are racially segregated, split into two halves that deal with the largely white performers of “old timey” music, fiddle tunes, and hobo songs in the first section, with blues music , minstrel and medicine-show numbers treated in the second. To point this out is not to object to it, since it is merely a way of organizing the notes and one that reflects the divisions in US society. But I will say that Wolfe’s notes, which detail the struggles of farmers, cotton-mill workers, and rail-riding tramps and hobos, provide a lot more of contextual contours than Kent’s, which for the most part stick to the biographical elements of the artists’ background and careers.

Thankfully, Yazoo did not present the music itself in this “segregated” way but instead interwove all these elements, lending us a glimpse into the similar challenges and hardships faced by blacks and poor whites in the south at this time, and the similar musics that sprung from them. While a goodly number of the performers here will be familiar to the Flabbergasted Family, it is mostly the blues artists whose names will ring bells. Blind Lemon Jefferson, Scrapper Blackwell (best known for his recordings with Leroy Carr), Joe Williams, Mississippi John Hurt, Sleepy John Estes, Blind Blake — these names are standard touchstones in the discography of country blues. Others selections are less famous, like Charlie Jordan’s excellent “Starvation Blues” and Bo Carter & Walter Vinson’s “Times Is Tight Like That”, and Barbecue Bob’s two selections, are more “deep cuts” in the blues canon and their inclusion here is much appreciated. The old-timey artists, fiddle players, and medicine show material are probably less recognizable to most (at least, they were to me) with the notable exception of Uncle Dave Macon who is more famous for the songs he authored than the ones he recorded. In fact some of the artists here are not included in any other compilations of the CD-era and would only be known to collectors of obscure 78’s. Some of my favorites from this material are “All I Got’s Gone” (Ernest Stoneman), “Got The Farm Land Blues” (Carolina Tar Heels). “Little Old Sod Shanty” (Jules Allen), “Starving to Death on a Government Claim” (Edward L. Crain), and “Weaver’s Life” (Dixon Brothers). These are just some personalized highlights, and its hard to pick them because all the material here is first-rate.

Of course we all know that the invisible hand of the free market has rendered such hard times an obsolete relic of the past, never to be repeated again, thus rendering the critiques documented here irrelevant to the present day. At least that is what Milton Friedman told me over drinks one night.

Hard Times Come Again No More, Vol. 1: 320kbs em pee tree / FLAC Lossless

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Hard Times Come Again No More, Vol. 2: 320kbs   / FLAC Lossless

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