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This is a tremendous collection of early old time tunes, pre-war blues, primitive rockaboogie, desperate mountain music, cowboy songs and outlaw ballads and I can't find a bad track among ‘em. You'll know some by heart; John Hurt's "Stackolee", Furry Lewis's "John Henry" and Dock Boggs' "Pretty Polly", but there's plenty of obscure stuff too like John Jacob Niles's "Bonnie Faraday" delivered in his weird contralto.

Favourite tracks? Well, Frank Crumit's swinging version of "Frankie And Johnny" is a delight thanks to a ringing guitar and crooning clarinet while Peanut Wilson's rockabilly number "Cast Iron Arm" gleefully describes a ruckus at the local hop and I also like GB Grayson's matter of fact delivery describing the gruesome murder of poor "Omie Wise". Dick Justice delights with a tale of murder by a spurned lover in the gorgeous "Henry Lee" (known as "Love Henry" to Bob Dylan fans) and we're treated to some real high-level balladry in Almeda Riddle's short and sweet solo vocal "Jesse James" - a bad man without equal unless you count Woodie Guthrie's "Bad Lee Brown" who cheerfully tells us how he ‘blowed' his woman down and brags about escaping the law but is then truly snookered when the law approaches next day as he's ‘standing on the corner reading my daddy's will' - truly a chilling line from a cold hearted psychopath.

This CD is filled with bad men, hopeless trouble makers and unrepentant murderers and it's all the better for it! A wonderful CD full of terrific performances and, at the moment, it takes the prize as the most played CD in this house.

Review Date: March 2009

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