Friday, March 2, 2012
Leadbelly - Good Night Irene (Allegro - ALL 786)
Leadbelly is stated on the album cover, but according to himself, his moniker is actually Lead Belly while his name is Huddie Ledbetter. Lead Belly is one of the best voices of Folk and Blues. Actually his voice is exceptionally suitable to Blues including all the quarter tones. Another exquisite talent of his is the twelve string guitar which can be called his signature as well. He cannot be really distinguished between Folk and Blues. However, one reason for this is the standards he has brought up into the world of both musical genres. To be honest, Folk for the AfroAmericans are Blues itself, thus a distinction is not very clear anyway.
The album is dated 1965. It is a UK press and a collection of his previously released songs. Actually all LPs featuring his songs are compilations since he only released so called singles during his times and these are on 78 rpm records. One significant thing about the album is that it is somewhat more concentrated on the Blues songs of Lead Belly. This suits me perfectly fine, but can give an incomplete version of him to a new listener.
The album includes personal interests of mine including the track which gave it's name to the album "Good Night, Irene" where Lead Belly's vocal reaches the utmost limits of performance. It is such a beauty that later on many artists tried to perform this song in their albums while all were left in the shadows. The other one was a song that I've been introduced by Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) during their Unplugged performance for MTV. The original name of the song is "Black Girl", but it is also known as "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?". With all due respect to a multi talented man like Kurt Cobain, listening the original version beats everything. However, I should point out that Cobain's version is the second best I've heard.
As always, the songs on the album are about racism, poverty, and unsurprisingly the prison life. Being one of the idols of todays gangster rap artists who love taking a periodical trip to the prison, Lead Belly was actually the creator of this genre as well. His irregular temperament has caused him several visits to state penitentiaries and this also helped him earn a big recognition. He was a regular performer in prisons. He has also noted that prison life has helped him build an unseen repertoire of Folk and Blues songs. Whatever the reason, he has been a unique artist in the Blues world and is worth each drop of respect he gets.
To buy this record: