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Tompkins Square (TSQ2899)


Bob Skiles Four Old Timers, Willard Hodgin, Tweedy Brothers, The Happy Hayseeds, John Batzell, Ernest Rogers, South Georgia Highballers, Alphus McFadyen, Lewis Brothers and more...

Any CD with a sub-title of ‘Commercial Recordings Of Anglo-European-American Vernacular Music That Challenge The Stereotypes' has got to be worth a listen, hasn't it?

Well this one certainly is. Compiled by Frank Fairfield, aided and abetted by other collectors willing to share their rare 78rpm discs and some sterling digital transfer work of Michael Keiffer, there is clearly an agenda here - namely, that concepts of what is ‘folk', ‘old-timey', and ‘traditional' music (and let's add in ‘blues' and ‘jazz' for good measure) are later-date commercial constructs and not always helpful to an understanding of music as it was envisaged and recorded all those years ago.

To prove the point, this CD offers 14 stunning examples of category-busting songs from the 1920s, presented with a view to just enjoying them for what they are in their own right. And I, for one, have no problem with that. Willard Hodgin's ragged Don't Get One Woman On Your Mind is a new favourite of mine but I couldn't explain it to you, and wouldn't want to. And what would you call Mythological Blues by Ernest Rogers apart from life-enhancing?

I've long-thought that shoe-horning music into categories is overly restrictive and undermining so Mr Fairfield is preaching to the converted with me. Duke Ellington was surely on to something when he said that there was only two types of music, good music and bad music. And here the always excellent team at Tompkins Square have presented us with 14 slabs of very good music indeed!

Review Date: July 2013

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