Friday, January 5, 2018

Slack It For Awhile

I recall Tia Blake appearing on my radar through a thorough feature on the always inspiring Aquarium Drunkard some years back, which told the remarkable story of an unknown singer from Pinehurst, North Carolina who recorded a breathtaking folk album in early seventies Paris. Since then, Tia's Folksongs & Ballads has never been far from the stereo at FTSOTS headquarters. Here's a fine example of her style.

Tia Blake - Hangman

Did Hangman ring a bell somehow? Could very well be. Maybe not because of the first recorded version from 1920 by one Bentley Ball, but if you've got some Leadbelly, Charlie Poole and/or Zep in your collection, as you should, chances are you've heard Child Ballad 95 before.

Bentley Ball - Gallows Tree
Leadbelly - The Gallis Pole
Charlie Poole & The North Carlina Ramblers - Hangman, Hangman, Slack The Rope
Led Zeppelin - Gallows Pole

Stop press: with reader Marie coming to the rescue, we now have a fine version by Odetta, too. And I found I had yet another wonderful take on it, courtesy of John Jacob Niles, the 'Dean of American Balladeers'. Enjoy!

Odetta - Gallows Tree (Gallows Pole)
John Jacob Niles - The Maid Freed From The Gallows


Anonymous said...

It was very interesting to hear Bentley Ball's 1920 version, Ramone. I have to find out more about how he came to be recorded so early on and where.

Could I ask where you found the Charlie Poole version? I have the Bear Family (supposedly) "Complete" box and it's not included.

Thanks so much for posting these.

Ramone666 said...

Hi, the Charlie Poole is on an album called "Chronological Works 1927-1928". Strange it's not on the Bear Family set.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ramone. I'm sitting here with a red face because I must have been having a whopping "senior's" moment. It turns out that my box set isn't "complete" and it wasn't put out by Bear Family; rather, it's the Columbia 3-disc set. It's the Complete Recordings of Darby & Tarlton that I have on Bear Family.

I'm very glad that you posted "Hangman" today, as "The Maid Freed From the Gallows" is one of my favourite Child ballads and it's fascinating to listen to all of the variants. The Leadbelly version is terrific!

Ramone666 said...

Glad you like 'em! Do you have Odetta's version perhaps, as I can't find that one anywhere and it's supposed to be great.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Ramone, but I don't have the Odetta version. On a completely different track, a while back I mentioned in a comment on your Pharoah Sanders post that I liked his "Jewels of Thought" LP. I've posted a track from it (December 18, 2017) if you feel like checking it out. (There's a player, but click on the box link if you fancy it.)

Ramone666 said...

Thanks a mil, digging it as we speak!

Spence said...

Wonderful. This is what blogging is/should be all about. Bringing 'stuff' to wider attention, illuminating, educating. So much here for me to dig away at and investigate further. Many many thanks for posting these tracks - vaguely aware of Charlie Poole, thanks to Loudon Wainwright and Leadbelly of course but Tia Blake and Bentley Ball both new to me. It was the Zeppelin track (my fave of theirs) which drew me in in the first place. Cheers

a.merskumsvik said...

A lovely blogpost, man.

Ramone666 said...

Thanks for your kind words all, and glad you liked it.