Sunday, December 16, 2007

Unfortunate Brakemen, the Memphis Flu & Titanic Blues

Over the last couple of months, I've been reading rave reviews of People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs, 1913-1938 [Tompkins Square Records TSQ1875], so as a present to myself ('tis the season after all), I plunked down the cash for a copy.

On a purely visual level, the set is first rate. Packaged as a book, there are detailed notes about each track in addition to period photos, not to mention some of the lyrics in the event that you'd like to sing along with the Trial of Richard Bruno Hauptmann or the Ohio Prison Fire, although the latter's melodramatic interlude between the distraught Mother and the Warden is not reproduced.

On to the music, the cds are broken up thematically by producers/compilers Christopher C. King and Henry Sapoznik: the first disc's theme is Man Vs Machine, the second's is Man Vs Nature, and the third's is Man Vs Man (and Women too!). Some disasters loom large in the imagination of the hillbilly and blues performers: the Titanic, plagues of Boll Weevils , mining disasters, train wrecks, jealous rages, and tales of ruin.

Terrific stuff.

If this collection interests you at all, pick up a copy soon as only 5000 were made.

You can find interviews with King here and here.

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