by carl wilson

One Liners

poole.jpg

I have a brief review of the excellent recent box set on early country-music pioneer Charlie Poole in today's Globe and Mail. (See below.)

Daphne settles the fiction-writer-as-critic debate (sparked by this) quite handily and with a fairly unique lack of snottiness, while managing to send chills through me about the low ceiling on a critic's prospects.

The Dears are having a baby, or specifically Natalia and Murray are, and are thus taking a touring break.

Meanwhile some-ones in der Broken Social Scene seem to have been busted for pot purchasing in New York - Aaron is tracking developments so I don't have to.

Goodbye Joe we gotta go me-oh-my-oh.

CD of the WEEK

The original country music star

CARL WILSON
15 July 2005
The Globe and Mail

You Ain't Talkin' to Me:
Charlie Poole & the Roots of Country Music
Box Set, Sony/Legacy

★ ★ ★ ★

Perhaps no instrument has a history so muddled in pride and spite as the banjo, appropriated from African-American slaves as a minstrel-show instrument, then damned as the musical weapon of choice for white rural rednecks, and later sanctified as an emblem of folk-revivalist idealism.

A chapter in that chronicle has to go to 1920s singer and banjoist Charlie Poole, a truly proud and spiteful character. He pioneered the three-finger-roll picking that became Earl Scruggs's classic bluegrass style, but out of necessity rather than choice — having broken and bent his fingers catching a baseball bare-handed on a drunken bet. Poole also had his front teeth knocked out one night by a half-dodged bullet and died at age 39 after a two-week alcoholic binge.

Brawler and wastrel that he was, though, he was the first country-music star. If it hadn't been for the 100,000-plus sales of his 1925 record Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues, a record exec like Roy Acuff might never have gone hunting for hayseed hit-makers such as the Carter Family.

Some say Poole is to country what Robert Johnson is to the blues, but despite his mill-worker roots, Poole was a more cosmopolitan figure. He blended old-timey fiddle music, Victorian parlour songs, white gospel, minstrel “coon songs” and the pop ballads of the day, buttoning them all into a suit and tie (usually with his North Carolina Ramblers string trio) and seeding a half-dozen subgenres of the future.

This three-CD set creatively matches Poole's best recordings with tracks from his influences and imitators. Housed in an ersatz battered cigar box with a sharp Poole portrait by cartoonist (and old-time 78 collector) Robert Crumb, and accompanied by an award-worthy 50-page booklet, it's the most rollicking graduate course in early musical Americana you could demand.

Caution: The 80-year-old recordings are lovingly restored, but inevitably there's a little scratchiness. Don't let it cheat you out of such a lively listen.

Read More | News | Posted by zoilus on Friday, July 15 at 4:52 PM | Linking Posts

 

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Zoilus by Carl Wilson