American Epic Sessions 3Lp180g20page Photo Booklettrifold Jacket
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Vinyl, Import, 16 June 2017
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- Product Dimensions : 31.34 x 31.17 x 1.24 cm; 889.04 Grams
- Manufacturer : THIRD MAN RECORDS
- Manufacturer reference : american-epic-sessions
- Label : THIRD MAN RECORDS
- ASIN : B071DTKRB7
- Number of discs : 3
- Best Sellers Rank: 43,739 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Triple 180 gram vinyl LP pressing. American Epic is a threepart documentary that tells the extraordinary story of the trailblazing era when countrywide, the music of ordinary Americans was recorded for the very first time. The series culminates with The American Epic Sessions, the featurelength film showcasing contemporary artists in recording sessions using original recording equipment from the era. American Epic: The Sessions is an album of exclusive new recordings produced by Jack White and T Bone Burnett of music legends and contemporary artists including Alabama Shakes, The Americans, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Frank Fairfield, Ana Gabriel, Rhiannon Giddens, Merle Haggard, Bobby Ingano, Elton John, Auntie Geri Kuhia, Pokey LaFarge, Bettye LaVette, Los Lobos, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Taj Mahal, Steve Martin Edie Brickell, Fred Martin and The Levite Camp, Ashley Monroe, Nas, Willie Nelson, Charlie Kaleo Oyama, Blind Boy Paxton, Raphael Saadiq, and Jack White. The artists have recorded both new compositions and songs from the 1920s and 1930s that are featured in the PBS documentary, American Epic. For the American Epic: The Sessions segment, the producers reassembled a recording lathe from the late 1920sthe last of it's kind in existenceand replicated the atmosphere of America's seminal 1920s field recordings down to the smallest detail. The artists recorded straight to wax, using all the original microphones, amplifiers, and other equipment from that era. It was the first time that any performer has been able to use this machinery for over 80 years.
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From the opening track, the Alabama Shakes’ storming version of Memphis Minnie’s “Killer Diller Blues” this sounds like a winner and the second track, the unlikely combination of rapper Nas and the Memphis Jug Band’s ‘On the Road Again”, is even better as it perfectly demonstrates a continuing thread running through black music from the earliest times until the present day. I was a bit uncertain about the combination of blues and country material that forms the bulk of the tracks here but actually it makes for a pleasing variety of music, with several of the artists - Rhiannon Giddens, Pokey Lafarge, Frank Fairfield – already bridging the two genres in their own work.
Everyone will have there own favourites here – for me one of the real highlights was Betty Lavette, her wrecked shell of a voice has been heard to great effect in recent years on beautifully produced soulful versions of modern pop classics but here she is a revelation singing the blues very movingly over an acoustic backing. Elton John also steps up to the plate together with Jack White with his own and Bernie Taurpin's song “Two Fingers of Whiskey” – the best thing I’ve heard him do for years - Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard do what they do, albeit with a slightly more old-timey vibe, ditto Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. And Blind Boy Paxton with his very authentic rendition of Mississippi John Hurt’s “Candy Man” takes you right back to the 1920’s as if the last 90 odd years had never happened.
This is an interesting project that for me is mainly successful, I thought that some of the tracks didn’t quite come off but in general there is a nice variety here from the blues to gospel, from country to Cajun, as well as Hawaiian and Mexican music. The CDs come with a booklet featuring hard-to-read acknowledgements, details of players and pictures of some of the performers.
When the American music business went hunting for larger, rural audiences, they went out with the latest tech, a remote recording studio, to capture the real thing, back in the 1920's. They discovered country, blues, work songs, Hawaiian music, you name it, the most wonderful, vibrant music ever made. Attempting to recapture this, the producers invited modern artists into the studio to record old and sometimes, new songs in this original way. One take mono, on a metal disc, no mixing, no messing. The result is some wonderful work.
The eclectic mix of artists includes Jack White, Elton John (wonderful, surprisingly), Pokey LaFarge (St Louis Blues, superb), Rhiannon Giddens (showstopping), Nas (truly excellent) and many others. Songs like the Reverend Gary Davis's Candyman and Like a Rose are lost gems, and are captured brilliantly in this format. My favourite initial tracks are Beck's original 14 Rivers, White's Matrimonial Intentions, and Gidden's One Hour Mama.
This is not for everyone. Some of the tracks are a bit rough (Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard's) and others are less interesting (Hawaiian hula music, and Mexican torch songs) but the project is still an amazing success.