The Legend of Lead Belly Lives On With New Documentary and Releases

Posted by Billyjam, February 25, 2015 12:50pm | Post a Comment
He may have died 66 long years ago but the highly influential Delta blues artist Lead Belly's music is very much alive and well, as witnessed by the two new Lead Belly releases having dropped this month (Black History Month) - two CD releases whose content overlaps somewhat. A few weeks ago the Lead Belly / Woody Guthrie 1940 New York City radio station session WNYC Radio New York 12th December 1940 CD arrived in Amoeba via Keyhole Records. And this week the fine folks at the Smithsonian unleashed the 5CD set Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection which includes some of the same Lead Belly WNYC recordings found on one of the five CDs. The five CDs total include a total of 108 Lead Belly songs most of which are culled from the Folkways' deep archives - much previously released and found at Amoeba's online store. Sixteen of these tracks, collectors will be pleased to learn, are previously unreleased Lead Belly recordings.  Also included in the Smithsonian set is an engaging accompanying 140-page booklet that contains various essays, lots of photographs of the blues legend born Huddie Ledbetter in Louisiana in 1888, whose influences run long and deep with fans including the likes of John Fogerty, Kurt Cobain, Van Morrison, Tom Jones, Tom Waits, Robert Plant, Lonnie Donegan, and Ben Harper.

The fifth disc in the 5CD set is culled from towards the very end of Lead Belly's life from  a series of sessions he did in 1948 (he would die a year later as a result of A.L.S. - better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) that were fittingly originally released under the title of the Last Sessions.  To coincide with both Black History Month and their 5CD Lead Belly collection's release the Smithsonian, via their Smithsonian Channel, this month aired the documentary entitled “Legend of Lead Belly” that can be viewed in full on YouTube. The documentary, which is just under an hour long and for which a trailer appears below, is highly recommended viewing for new and old fans alike, and is as much a slice of African American history as it is a biopic on Lead Belly and his ever-troubled life. Also go digging in the LP and CD blues sections of Amoeba for many more Lead Belly releases that include the 1996 Smithsonian/Folkways release Where Did You Sleep Last Night Vol. 1, The Rough Guide To Blues Legends: Lead Belly, and the 18 track Lead Belly Masterworks CD collection.

                                                         Sneak Peek: Legend of Lead Belly

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Bhm (3), Black History Month (134), Black History Month 2015 (3), Lead Belly (1), Leadbelly (2), Smithsonian (2)