Album Review

You Ain’t Talkin’ to Me: Charlie Poole & The Roots of Countr [coll] – [Columbia/Legacy]

ArtCrimes   6/1/2011   CD, Country

Charlie Poole (1892-1931) was a hard living drunk with jug-handle ears with a wild performing style. ??He wrote no songs of his own, but absorbed influences ranging from then-current pop ditties, marches, spirituals, minstrel songs, vaudeville, novelty numbers, Civil War songs, fiddle tunes, and whatever else you got… mixing them all up into a repertoire he would take on the road with his three piece crew, the North Carolina Ramblers. ??In addition to his unhinged vocal style, the 5 string banjo style Poole used (despite his lack of virtuosity) helped set the stage for what eventually would become bluegrass, with finger picking and melodic inventions rather than the more rhythmic frailing style heard we know from old-time and rural sources. ??Poole’s recordings for Columbia in the late ’20s are still echoed today via contemporary artists who found Poole’s larger-than-life performances inspiring, with Loudon Wainwright III among them. ??This three-disc collection puts the Poole repertoire from those Columbia 78s in context with other artist’s recordings side by side with Poole’s versions of the same songs (although often retitled, rewritten, and rearranged by Poole). ??The result serves as a great overview of popular American music from around 1900 to 1930. A nice booklet with this set provides biographical detains on Poole and his influences. ??<crimes>

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