Monday, June 04, 2007

We Sure Got Hard Times

Many years ago, I guess probably sometime in the mid-seventies, I used to catch some music documentaries on TV in the afternoons they were often hidden among the schedules so most viewers wouldn't know they were actually on. Most of the films shown were made by Les Blank. They were amazing documentaries based around the Cajun and Southern music scenes in the late 60's and early 70's but one other film really caught my attention and it was about the Reverend Pearly Brown a blind street singer from Americus, Georgia. Pearly had recorded an album on Rounder Records in 1973 and I picked up a copy in 1975 and I still have it today. It is a compelling LP with strong simple vocals and effective guitar playing.

Reverend Pearly Brown - It's A Mean Old World To Try To Live In

Blind Alfred Reed - How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live

This track is much better known and has been covered by such artists as The Del-Lords and probably the definitive modern recording is by Ry Cooder. Alfred Reed was a fiddler who lived most of his life in West Virginia although he recorded this classic tune on 4th December 1929 in NYC with his son Arville Reed on guitar. You can find most of Blind Alfred's recordings on Document Records but I have taken this track from the CD 'Hard Times Come Again No More, Vol. 1Rural Songs of Hard Times and Hardships Classic Recordings from the 1920s and 30s' on Yazoo Records (no 2036), a collection of classic recordings of early American rural songs about hard times - crop failures, joblessness, the Depression.

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