Leadbelly – Various Artists

Latest chapters in prestigious rock'n'roll roots series

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Various Artists

POOR MAN’S HEAVEN: WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN VOL 6

BOTH BLUEBIRD/RCA

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After The White Stripes, it’s normal for young bands today to treat the blues as if it were a fashion accessory. Shame on them, since, as both these impeccable discs reiterate, it was once a life-or-death catharsis for luckless social lepers without so much as a pot to piss in. Take This Hammer captures the great Leadbelly fresh out of stir in 1940 and wary of “TB Blues”, a common concern in the Depression era as also detailed on Poor Man’s Heaven. Poverty, plague, failed crops and the gamut of human misery abound, typified by Harry “Mac” McClintock’s divinely deadpan “Hallelujah, I’m A Bum”?75 years old but absolutely spellbinding.

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