Thursday, October 1, 2009

Favorite roots albums : Doc & Merle Watson : Ballads From Deep Gap

Doc & Merle Watson - My Rough and Rowdy Ways (buy) (1967)

Doc & Merle Watson - The Lawson Family Murder (buy) (1967)

I'm a list maniac. There is no cure for that. So I spend a lot of time hanging out on the Acclaimed Music forum with my list maniac (and music nerd) friends.
I'm running a poll this month called "list you 200 favorite albums of all time" (all genres) and if you're a list maniac don't hesitate and participate !

So this month I will post about my favorite roots albums and the first of all (#8 in my all-time list which contains a lot of "non-roots" material).

I doscovered this forgotten gem by chance at the library while looking for some Doc Watson stuff. To this day, no folk-country album (I'm not counting compilations) has had such an effect on me.
The 12 songs encompass some of the best styles in traditional American music : old Appalachian ballads (a great rendition of Clarence Ashley's "The Cuckoo"), hillbilly music (a cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "Rough and Rowdy Ways"), bluegrass (Lester Flatt's "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms"), blues (a wonderful version of Mississippi John Hurt's "Stackolee") or murder ballads, with the "Lawson Family Murder", a terrible story sung in a gentle manner, which makes it even more stunning. The only other song on this subject that could pair it might be Suicide's "Frankie Teardrop", which tells the same story in a completely opposite manner.

And of course there is Doc and son's performance. Doc Watson is one of the best acoustic guitar players of the century, taking picking to unbelievable heights. Not only is he a technical virtuoso, but his playing is almost laid back and seems effortless. Everything is done at home, the sound is incredible, and the music is fast, fun and unpretentious.

I do hope I have convinced you to get that masterpiece. If you love the music I post here, you will love this album.

Track list :

1 Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms
2 My Rough and Rowdy Ways
3 The Wreck of the Old Number Nine
4 Gambler's Yodel
5 The Cuckoo
6 Stack-O-Lee
7 Willie Moore
8 Travelin' Man
9 The Tragic Romance
10 Texas Gales [instrumental]
11 The Lawson Family Murder
12 Alabama Bound


pbilly80002 said...

Doc's amazing and a legend, but my favorite from that era is Norman Blake's "Whiskey Before Breakfast"... a flat pickin' tour de force.

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Nicolas said...

pbilly : I looked at the Norman Blake album's critic in AMG and it looks terrific ! I'll check it out !

adriana : ¡Hola, gracias por tu comentario! Hoy visto tu blog, me gusta y ahora es en mi blogroll. Keep the good work !

Anonymous said...

muchas gracias,
ya estas en nuestra lista de amigos.

hasta otra!