elcome to the Digital Meltd0wn Music Blog. The aim of this blog is to introduce the readers to music that is out of print, commercially unavailable, released under a creative commons license, or with approval by the featured artist. The majority of the music posted here would be considered underground. Don't let that fool you into thinking that the music featured here might be any less enjoyable than that of the mainstream artists you hear on the radio, as this couldn't be further from the truth. Please keep in mind that the majority of the artists that appear on this blog, along with their respective record labels, are not wealthy and need your support. If you enjoy the material that you find here, please support the artists/labels by purchasing their material afterwards. If you are an artist/label that would prefer to have your material removed from this blog, simply leave me a comment, and I would be more than happy to promptly remove the offending post. In addition to running this blog, I also work on a few other projects during my spare time. You can find links to those, as well as a few other important links associated with Digital Meltd0wn in the menu bar above.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

VA - Anthology of American Folk Music

There isn't much that I can say about this legendary collection that hasn't already been said. If you have an interest in early American folk or blues, then this compilation is absolutely essential. I have seen this collection posted on other blogs, so I thought that I would make mine stand out from the crowd by including a couple of relevant additions. The first is a pdf file of the liner notes included with the Smithsonian Folkways reissue. These include both the revised liner notes, as well as Harry Smith's original liner notes. I should point out that revised modern liner notes precede Harry Smith's original liner notes. The second is a scanned copy of a book entitled Anthology of American Folk Music, which was published by Oak Publishers in 1973. This book is rare and long out of print. I have included more info concerning both of these additions below. The following information concerning the anthology is taken from Wikipedia.

Compilation and Release:
The Anthology of American Folk Music is a 1952 six-album compilation of eighty-four American folk recordings from 1927 to 1932. Experimental filmmaker and notable eccentric Harry Smith compiled the collection from his personal collection of 78 rpm records. The collection is famous due to its role as a touchstone for the US folk music revival in the 1950s and 1960s. Harry Smith, the project's complier, was a West Coast filmmaker, bohemian, and eccentric, who, around 1940, had begun to develop a hobby of collecting old blues, jazz, country, hillbilly, and gospel 78s. At a time when many people considered these records to be ephemeral, he took them seriously and accumulated a collection of several thousand recordings, and began to develop an interest in seeing them preserved and curated.

In 1947, he met with Moses Asch, with an interest in selling or licensing the collection to Asch's label, Folkways Records. Smith, in his own words, chose for this compiliation records from the period between "1927, when electronic recording made possible accurate music reproduction, and 1932, when the Depression halted folk music sales." Interestingly, upon the time of its initial release in 1952, neither Folkways nor Smith possessed the licensing rights to these recordings, many of which had initially been issued by record companies that were still in existence (including Columbia and Paramount), which technically qualifies the project as a high-profile bootleg. (Folkways would later obtain some licensing rights, although the Anthology would not be completely licensed until the 1997 Smithsonian reissue.)

The compilation was divided (by Smith) into three two-album volumes: Ballads, Social Music, and Songs. As the title indicates, the "Ballads" volume consists of ballads, including many American versions of Child ballads originating from the English folk tradition. Each song tells a story about a specific event or time, and Smith may have made some effort to organize to suggest a historical narrative, a theory suggested by the fact that many of the first songs in this volume are old English folk ballads, while the closing songs of the volume deal with the hardships of being a farmer in the 1920s. The first album in the "social music" volume largely consists of music likely performed at social gatherings or dances. Many of the songs are instrumentals. The second album in the "social music" volume consists of religious and spiritual songs. The final volume consists of regular songs, dealing with everyday life: critic Greil Marcus describes its thematic interests as being "marriage, labor, dissipation, prison, and death."

Smith's booklet in the original release makes reference to three additional planned volumes in the series, which would anthologize music up until 1950. In 1972, Asch, interviewed by Sing Out! magazine, claimed that tapes for two additional volumes of the project had survived, although the documentation necessary to make a meaningful release of the volumes had been lost. Revenant Records, in 2000, worked in conjunction with the Harry Smith Archive to recreate and release the fourth volume, associated by Smith with the element of Earth. This volume, apparently organized around a theme of "work" includes (for the first time in the Anthology) a selection of union songs, and anthologizes material released as late as 1940.

Smith also edited and directed the design of the Anthology. He created the liner notes himself, and these notes are almost as famous as the music, using a unusual fragmented, collage method that presaged some postmodern artwork. Smith also penned short synopses of the songs in the collection, which read like newspaper headlines-- for the song King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O by Chubby Parker, a song about a mouse marrying a frog, Smith notes: "Zoologic Miscegeny Achieved Mouse Frog Nuptuals, Relatives Approve."

Each of the three two-record sets carried the same cover art (a Theodore de Bry etching of an instrument Smith referred to as the "Celestial Monochord," taken from a mystical treatise by scientist/alchemist Robert Fludd). This etching was printed over against a different color background (green, red, and blue) for each volume of the set. Smith had incorporated both the music and the art into his own unusual cosmology, and each of these colors was considered by Smith to correspond to an alchemical element (Water, Fire, and Air, respectively).

In the 1960s, Irwin Silber replaced Smith's covers with a Ben Shahn photograph of a poor Depression-era farmer, a choice Harry Smith was said to have objected to, although others have considered this a wise commercial choice. In 1997, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, having acquired Folkways Records in 1986, reissued the collection on six CDs, including replicas of Smith's original artwork and liner booklet.

The Anthology has had enormous historical influence. Smith's methodology of sequencing tracks, along with his inventive liner notes, called attention to the set, imbuing it with a talismanic aura. This reintroduction of near-forgotten popular styles of rural American music from the selected years to new listeners had impact on American ethnomusicology, and was both directly and indirectly responsible for the aforementioned folk music revival.

The music on the compilation provided direct inspiration to much of the emergent folk music revival movement. The Anthology made widely available music which previously had been largely the preserve of marginal social economic groups. Many people who first heard this music through the Anthology came from very different cultural and economic backgrounds from its original creators and listeners. Many previously obscure songs became standards at hootenannies and folk clubs due to their inclusion on the Anthology. Some of the musicians represented on the Anthology saw their musical careers revived, and made additional recordings and live appearances.

This document is generally thought to have been enormously influential on the folk & blues revival of the '50s and '60s, and brought the works of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, Dick Justice and many others to the attention of musicians such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. The "Harry Smith Anthology," as some call it, was the bible of folk music during the late 1950s and early 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene. As stated in the liner notes to the 1997 reissue, the late musician Dave van Ronk had earlier commented that "we all knew every word of every song on it, including the ones we hated."

Track List:

Disc 1:
1. Dick Justice - Henry Lee
2. Nelstone's Hawaiians - Fatal Flower Garden
3. Clarence Ashley - The House Carpenter
4. Coley Jones - Drunkard's Special
5. Bill & Belle Reed - Old Lady and the Devil
6. Buell Kazee - The Butcher's Boy (The Railroad Boy)
7. Buell Kazee - The Wagoner's Lad (Loving Nancy)
8. Chubby Parker - King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O
9. Uncle Eck Dunford - Old Shoes and Leggins
10. Leonard Rutherford & Richard Burnett - Willie Moore
11. Buster Carter & Preston Young - A Lazy Farmer Boy
12. The Carolina Tar Heels - Peg and Awl
13. G.B. Grayson - Omie Wise
14. Kelly Harrell - My Name is John Johanna

Disc 2:
1. Edward L. Crain - Bandit Cole Younger
2. Kelly Harrell - Charles Giteaux
3. The Carter Family - John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man
4. Curry & The Williamson Brothers - Gonna Die With My Ham
5. Frank Hutchinson - Stackalee
6. Charlie Poole & North Carolina Ramblers - White House B
7. Mississippi John Hurt - Frankie
8. Versey & William Smith - When That Great Ship Went Down
9. The Carter Family - Engine 143
10. Furry Lewis - Kassie Jones
11. The Bently Boys - Down on Penny's Farm
12. Masked Marvels - Mississippi Boweavil Blues
13. The Carolina Tar Heels - Got The Farm Land Blues

Disc 3:
1. Uncle Bunt Stephens - Sail Away Ladies
2. Jilson Setters - The Wild Wagone
3. Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers - Wake Up Jacob
4. Blind Uncle Gaspard Delma Lachney - La Danseuse
5. Andrew & Jim Baxter - Georgia Stomb
6. Eck Robertson - Brilliancy Medley
7. Hoyt Ming and His Pep Steppers - Indian War Whoop
8. Henry Thomas - Old Country Stomp
9. Jim Jackson - Old Dog Blue
10. Columbus Fruge - Sat' Crapaud
11. Joseph Falcon - Arcadian One-Step
12. The Breaux Freres - Home Sweet Home
13. Cincinnati Jug Band - Newport Blues
14. Frank Cloutier Victoria Cafe Orchestra - Moonshiner's Dance (Pt. 1)

Disc 4:
1. Reverend J.M. Gates - You Must Be Born Again
2. Reverend J.M. Gates - Oh Death, Where Is Thy Sting
3. Alabama Sacred Harp Singers - Rocky Road
4. Alabama Sacred Harp Singers - Present Joys
5. Middle George Singing Convention - This Song of Love
6. Rev. Sister Mary M. Nelson - Judgement
7. Memphis Sanctified Singers - He Got Better Things For You
8. Elders McIntorsh and Edwards' Sanctified Singers - Since I Laid My Burden Down
9. Moses Mason - John The Baptist
10. Bascom Lamar Lunsford - Dry Bones
11. Blind Willie Johnson - John The Revelator (Song)
12. The Carter Family - Little Moses
13. Ernest Phipps and His Holiness Singers - Shine On Me
14. Rev. F.W. McGee - Fifty Miles of Elbow Room
15. Rev. D.C. Rice and his Sanctified Congregation - I'm in the Battle Field for My Lord

Disc 5:
1. Clarence Ashley - The Coo Coo Bird
2. Buell Kazee - East Virginia
3. Cannon's Jug Stompers - Minglewood Blues
4. Didier Hebert - I Woke Up One Morning In May
5. Richard Rabbit Brown - James Alley Blues
6. Dock Boggs - Sugar Baby
7. Bascom Lamar Lunsford - I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground
8. Ernest Stoneman & Hattie Stonemen - The Mountaineer's Courtship
9. The Stoneman Family - The Spanish Merchant's Daughter
10. Memphis Jug Band - Bob Lee Junior Blues
11. The Carter Family - Single Girl, Married Girl
12. Cleoma Breaux & Joseph Falcoln - Le Vieux Soulard et Sa Femme
13. Blind Lemon Jefferson - Rabbit Foot Blues
14. Sleepy John Estes - Expressman Blues

Disc 6:
1. Ramblin' Thomas - Poor Boy Blues
2. Cannon's Jug Stompers - Feather Bed
3. Dock Boggs - Country Blues
4. Julius Daniels - 99 Years Blues
5. Blind Lemon Jefferson - Prison Cell Blues
6. Blind Lemon Jefferson - See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
7. Cleoma Breaux/Joseph Falcoln/Orphy Breaux - C'est Si Triste Sans Lui
8. Uncle Dave Macon - Buddy Won't You Roll Down the Line
9. Mississippi John Hurt - Spike Driver Blues
10. The Memphis Jug Band - K.C. Moan
11. J.P. Nestor - Train on the Island
12. Ken Maynard - The Lone Star Trail
13. Henry Thomas - Fishing Blues

Download: Anthology of American Folk Music (Disc 1) (56MB)
Download: Anthology of American Folk Music (Disc 2) (56MB)
Download: Anthology of American Folk Music (Disc 3) (53MB)
Download: Anthology of American Folk Music (Disc 4) (53MB)
Download: Anthology of American Folk Music (Disc 5) (53MB)
Download: Anthology of American Folk Music (Disc 6) (53MB)

Liner Notes:

These liner notes were included in the boxed set reissued by Smithsonian Folkways. Included is an award-winning 100-page "Booklet of Essays, Appreciations, and Annotations Pertaining to the Anthology of American Folk Music." The booklet follows Harry Smith's original vision and features his "scientific/aesthetic handbook" of songs, an essay by noted critic and author Greil Marcus, additional essays, song notes, photos, graphics, a reproduction of the originally liner notes, and recollections by well known artists about the impact of this anthology on their own lives. Compiled and edited by Smithsonian Archivist Jeff Place, the booklet received the 1997 Grammy Award for "Best Album Notes."

Download: Anthology of American Folk Music Liner Notes
Download Size: 62MB

Anthology of American Folk Music - E-Book

Anthology of American Folk Music is a rare and currently out of print book published by Oak Publications in 1973. It was edited by Josh Dunson and Ethel Raim. It collects the musical tablature of the majority of the songs included in Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, as in addition to a number of photographs of the artists themselves. It also contains an interview with Frank Walker, in which he describes how the tracks for the anthology were chosen, as well as an interview with Moses Asch, who describes the birth and growth of early American folk music.

This book was scanned by Malcolm Lawrence. The downloadable file was nested within many folders, so I have taken the time to re-organize the contents and re-upload the file. An online version of the entire book which can be found on his website.

Download: Anthology of American Folk Music
Download Size: 15MB


Anonymous said...

Eagerly awaiting the last two discs! Thanks for the upload!

Zer0_II said...

@anonymous: I was beginning to wonder if anyone was going to comment on this. You're very welcome. I should have the remaining discs uploaded within the hour.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these! I have been listening to the first two discs all day long. This music brings back so many memories of my childhood growing up with my grandparents. I cant wait to listen to the rest now that they are up. Keep up the good work!

Zer0_II said...

@anonymous #2 I'm glad that you are enjoying these and that I could help bring back some early memories for you. I hope you enjoy the rest of the collection.

Unknown said...

Holy shit... You are a golden god, dude.


d said...


Wild Man Mikey said...

I downloaded and listened to these elsewhere some time ago - and keep going back to them. Thanks very much for the reading matter, I'm looking forward to relaxing with that later!

Marilyn Roxie said...

Digital Meltd0wn always seems to have want I'm looking for; I'm to teach a History of Rock Music class at my former school next semester, and this will definitely come in handy to have my students listen to when we discuss this genre, so thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome, simply awesome that you have made this stuff available. The time and care you take is clearly apparent. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I'm really excited to hear this. history!!!

Anonymous said...


thank you very much, these recordings are fantastic!

Zer0_II said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous said...


ALTCERF said...

What a great post, Zer0_ll..I was listening to The New Pornographers MYRIAD HARBOR this afternoon and (I believe) they mentioned this record in the song..It got me interested and curious again with this album (which I bought a couple of years ago and enjoyed /obsessed about very much..it's gathering dust somewhere buried underneath my books) This is just massive it introduced me to Patton, Furry Lewis, Uncle Dave Macon, Carter Family, Mississippi john Hurt, Dock Boggs, etc etc...This is an essential listening to anyone who loves Dylan's The Basement Tapes..Thanks again and glad it's still up. Truly amazing!

Zer0_II said...

ALTCERF: Thank you for dropping by and for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the Anthology and made a point to recommend it to others despite the fact that you already own it and have no need to download it. Take care.

Anonymous said...

"My exploration of Harry Smith’s Anthology"
not my blog, but a phenomenal collection of music directly related to the Anthology. Awe inspiring.
Volume Four http://grapewrath.blogspot.com/2009/05/harry-smiths-anthology-of-american-folk.html

Will said...

Thanks for this essential collection.

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, the first disc isn't available anymore on the various ShrBee mirrors.

Zer0_II said...

@Anon: Thank you for informing me that Disc 1 is down. I will add it to my list of items to re-up, although this will probably take priority due to the popularity of this post. Once I have managed to post my dedication to the victims from the disaster in Japan, I will start working on the list of items to re-up. Thank you once again and take care.

Anonymous said...

thanks for upload the booklet of this great collection.
i found the music lossless but without the notes is not the same.

Zer0_II said...

@Anonymous: I'm glad you enjoyed the liner notes. They truly do help to give one an additional level of insight into the collection. I wish that there was a site that specialized in collecting booklets and liner notes, although I'm sure the labels would have a problem with that also. I considered starting up such a site myself, but unfortunately I've already got my hands full with DM. Would you be willing to provide me with the download links to the lossless music?

Anonymous said...

this is such an important anthology, thank you for digitizing the liner notes which I have been searching for! I'm busily learning new songs for my ballad singing group.

DL Smith said...

Does anyone have a link to Vol. 4's liner notes? My copy got destroyed and I'd love to have one for reference. Thanks!

DL Smith said...

Does anyone have Vol. 4's liner notes on PDF they could post? Much obliged...