VariousRoots Of The Blues

Label:New World Records – NW 252
Vinyl, LP, Compilation, Stereo, Mono
Genre:Blues, Folk, World, & Country
Style:Field Recording, Gospel, Country Blues


A1Henry Ratcliff / Bakari-BadjiLouisiana / Field Song From Senegal2:45
A2John Dudley (2)Po' Boy Blues2:36
A3Tangle Eye (2)Katie Left Memphis3:00
A4Leroy Miller And A Group Of PrisonersBerta, Berta2:53
A5Fred McDowell And Miles PratcherOld Original Blues4:09
A6Ed Young And Lonnie YoungJim And John2:10
A7Alec AskewEmmaline, Take Your Time1:03
A8Miles Pratcher And Bob PratcherButtermilk3:17
A9Leroy GaryMama Lucy0:33
A10Miles Pratcher And Bob PratcherI'm Gonna Live Anyhow Till I Die2:32
B1Tangle Eye (2) And A Group Of PrisonersNo More, My Lord2:45
B2Rev. Crenshaw And The Congregation Of New Brown's Chapel, MemphisLiving Hymn And Prayer3:31
B3Fred McDowellDeath Comes A-Creepin' In My Room3:12
B4Congregation Of New Brown's Chapel, Memphis*Church-House Moan1:50
B5Bessie JonesBeggin' The Blues2:05
B6Rose Hemphill And Fred McDowellRolled And Tumbled2:52
B7Fred McDowell, Miles Pratcher And Fannie DavisGoin' Down To The Races4:13
B8Forrest City Joe*You Gotta Cut That Out2:56

Companies, etc.



Back cover bears the logo of the American Revolution Bicentennial (1776-1976), below which reads: "These recordings were made possible through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation."

Front and back covers list the title as "Roots Of The Blues", while labels and spine read "The Roots Of The Blues".

Pasted into the gatefold is a four-page insert with liner notes, lyrics, and an essay, "Roots of the Blues".

A1 contains two recordings on one band: "Louisiana" and "Field Song From Senegal" have been spliced together to show sonic similarities.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Matrix / Runout (Side A): NWS 252 A-2 #2
  • Matrix / Runout (Side B): NWS 252 B #2
  • Other (Library Of Congress Card No.): 77-750356

Other Versions (1)

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Title (Format)LabelCat#CountryYear
Roots Of The Blues (CD, Reissue)New World Records80252-2USUnknown



  • cheap_suit's avatar
    A nice, but inessential, repackaging of recordings from Alan Lomax's 1959 travels through the South. If you can find a cheap copy, it's worth picking up for the field recordings of prisoners and churchgoers, and Fred McDowell is wonderful as always. But it's hard to recommend the album as a whole, due to some questionable curating choices which occasionally become intrusive.

    For example, the first track is a splicing together of two worksongs -- one from Louisiana, one from Senegal -- designed to show their sonic similarities. This is a bizarre choice; those of us who love field recordings love them because they are in some sense "pure," and (relatively) free of the meddling of dilettantes and businessmen. Here we get a hybrid that would be better suited to a radio documentary than a record album. Why not just put them side-by-side and let us compare for ourselves?

    The last tune, Forrest City Joe's "You Gotta Cut That Out", is essentially an example of commercialized latter-day electric blues and feels totally out of place alongside the other material. Lomax's liner notes acknowledge this, calling it "amusing but not memorable music." Again, the idea is to show a narrative, whereby the blues starts in Africa, moves on to the American countryside, and eventually finds its way to the mainstream. Such focus on documentary value at the expense of listener enjoyment would make sense in a completest's box set, but doesn't work at all on a 50-minute LP.


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