(back) - All Music Guide - Portrait of a seminal American artist.
Long John Baldry
came of age as a singer during the British Blues boom, and it's obvious that his love of the music hasn't left him. As he explains in the interview track at the end,
Leadbelly was his first musical inspiration, and here he has his chance to pay homage to the man. In his sixties at the time of this recording, Baldry's voice has improved with age, deepening a little and sounding more gravelly -- just perfect for the grittiness of Leadbelly's songs, which ran the gamut from Blues to Folk, Gospel, and beyond. It's an intelligent selection. 'Goodnight Irene' and 'In the Pines,' while keeping defining moments like 'Rock Island Line', 'Birmingham Jail,' and 'We're in the Same Boat Brother' - it's remarkable just how familiar so much of the material is.

The version of 'Gallows Pole' (much better known for its subsequent incarnation as a Led Zeppelin piece) roars with power and urgency. 'Lining Track' and 'John Hardy' (whose unusual arrangement centers around pump organ) are definitive railroad songs, while the hymns 'Mary Don't You Weep' and 'We Shall Walk Through the Valley,' though springing from an older well, were very much a part of the Huddie Leadbetter repertoire. There's even a children's song, 'On a Christmas Day', showing yet another facet of the big man. Add in an interview with Alan Lomax, the folklorist who discovered Leadbelly and helped his career, and you have something that stands as more than a tribute, but a full portrait of a seminal American artist. - by Chris Nickson - All Music Guide


Vintage Guitar Magazine - Remembering Leadbelly - Stony Plain Records
The Brits, in at least as far as the Blues is concerned, have always been our archivists. With a few exceptions in the '60s, including John Hammond, Butterfield and Bloomfield, Taj Mahal, and a select few equally articulate (but lesser-known), it wasn't until the 80s and the re-emergence of the West Coast and Texas and Gulf Coast schools that we really rejoined the Blues roots party. It took perhaps a number of British invasions to hand back to the USA what we at least take for granted. It comes as no surprise that Chris Barber disciple Long John Baldry, would choose
Leadbelly as a vehicle to whom he would repay a musical debt. This effort is obviously a labor of love from someone whos musical career has been significantly influenced by Huddie. One doesnt need to read the liner notes to realize Bill Broonzy and Huddie Leadbetter were certainly strong influences on the early British interpreters. Young enthusiasts that included Alexis Corner, Lonnie Donegan, John Mayall, and even Page and Plant have recognized the inspirational credentials that those two American artists wielded. This release represents one man's tribute to an artist he loves and respects, and the affection comes shining through.-by Dave Hussong -Vintage Guitar

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