The brand new Elvis album: "Viva Elvis"

I never thought I was going to review a brand new Elvis release. Elvis was dead long before I started writing about music. The record industry cross every border. Time and space is not a limitation. The Viva Elvis is a kind of «what if» project. Someone has been toying with the idea of how a brand new Elvis album would have sounded if it had been recorded today.

Three months after Elvis could have celebrated his 75th anniversary a new album is on its way. The producer and the musicians have isolated Elvis vocal from old tapes. The vocal is then used as the basis for new and creative musical arrangements. The old songs are adapted to our modern musical language. We are talking about a pretty fundamental remake. The result is exciting. Elvis appears, despite his physical absence, as a very vital artist in 2010. The arrangements remind me of U2 with a new vocalist. The essence is floating guitars, lots of punch and a heavy and dynamic rhythmic foundation. The sound is also much more compact than the original Elvis Presley recordings. “Viva Elvis” feels like 100 percent 2010. And it is a very good 2010 production.

The album fully demonstrates Elvis excellent vocal. The strength and dynamics fully documents how timeless his expression is. Songs like “Blue Sued Shoes”, “King Creole”, “Love Me Tender” and most of the other songs on this album is already a part of the musical world heritage. The new versions are adding a new perspective. They are catchy and dynamic. The talented musicians and the brave producer have created one of the best remake retro albums t I can remember. The musicians have defined a clear distance to the original songs. Therefore they have managed to create a whole new sound. A good example is the remake of «Can` t help falling in love «. The new version is a beautiful duet. We’re talking about a great version with significant hit potential. In a facinating way «Viva Elvis» is true to Elvis heritage but also to our time. I can however understand that hardcore fan see this project as grave robbery. But I disagree. These old songs, Elvis’ amazing vocals and the new arrangements works together. The album has good sound and is well produced. Therefore «Viva Elvis» is a good and worthy album in my opinion.

Translated from Norwegian

Bob Dylan: The Witmark Demos & Mono recordings

Bob Dylan’s record company beats the big drum this fall. The first eight Dylan albums are retrieved from the old master tapes and restored by all rules of the art. They are now released in mono on CD and vinyl – and a package including both. At the same time, Dylan releases a new chapter in his Bootleg Series. This time historical recordings from 1962 to 1964 – the so-called Witmark demos. They are pure acoustic recordings with guitar, harmonica and sometimes piano. Total of 47 tracks, including fifteen never-before-released. The witmark demos documents an artist in the frantic development. All the songs are recorded before the man was 24 It starts with demo recordings of classic traditional tunes and ends with classics like «Blowin ‘In The Wind», «The Times They Are A Changin’,» Masters of War «and the drug influenced, but yet so poetic» Mr. Tambourine Man. «

Sony also releases a limited bonus CD with a concert recording «Dylan in Concert Brandeis University, 1963. If you want to get it, you have to purchase one of the other releases at selected dealers. Check out Play.com or the various Amazon sites. (http://amzn.to/dB6jAg)

In all, there is a wealth of offerings that include packages with all the releases, on CD, vinyl, both CD and vinyl t-shirts, posters, bonus CDs, etc. At Bobdylan.com there are six different products. If you include the bonus CDs, the number of product combinations are more than ten. It’s expensive to be a Dylan fan and Sony Music have really understood how MP3 ghost should be avoided by developing must have products for fans.

It can of course be the question of whether such major initiatives like this are worth the money. Personally, I think the Witmark demos are the highlight. Sony Music has over time developed the knowledge on “how to” extract good sound from old master tapes. Witmark demos is not an exception. We meet a early version of rough and tough acoustic Dylan. Yet the digging so deep in the archive, is perhaps more for special interests than for the general public. Some of the tracks hold such a bad recording quality; technically they just appear to be bootlegs. On the other hand, there are tracs that fully demonstrates the complete Dylan was as an artist in 1964. It’s pretty obvious that he had to develop a new musical direction. In 1964 he was at complete and perfect acoustic artist. In many ways he is the Picasso of music.

Mono releases, be it the Beatles or Dylan, is a new experience for stereo grownups. But the differences are quite marginal. It’s a little more punch, a little less sense of space and a more logically sound. On the pure acoustic songs the voice and guitar are coming from the same point. I must however admit that the difference between the original CD releases and stereo remaster editions, released a few years ago is more stunning than the difference between the remaster and mono versions. On the other hand, the mono releases are true to original releases as they were meant to be. Therefore, they have a documentary value. They are now in my shelf and hence Sony Music has succeeded to sell the same old material to me at least five times. No matter. The mono box contains two of the ten best releases of all time according to Rolling Stone. It feels good to listen to the masterpieces «Blonde on Blonde» and «Highway 61» in mono – as they were released. The six others are masterpieces as well, so the box is worth buying.

To be published in Fidelity 48 by Stein Arne Nistad (translated from Norwegian)

Christmas Eve with “Christmas in my heart”

by Stein Arne Nistad


I must say I feel a little proud these days. I was the first (or possibly the second) journalist in the world who reviewed Christmas In The Heart. I wrote my preliminary review on September 17th. based on the samples housed on Amazon.uk for a short period. Unlike Michael Gray and the rest of the Dylan community, I was incredibly positive about the album. After playing the samples twenty or thirty times, I felt like I did understand the true nature of the Christmas In The Heart project. In my review I wrote: ‘

Despite the fact that some of the arrangements and songs definitively is not my ball game, I recognize an underlying quality in almost every one of them. It’s strange, but I feel Dylan’s genius comes true and I believe most of the songs on the record will grow on me. ( http://bit.ly/H9iPS)

Over the next few weeks I observed how the album was written off by critics and Dylan fans around the world – indeed, before it even was released! When the album finally was released, I had no need to change my review, but to reinforce the positive description. In my final review I wrote:

This album is not a new Dylan record. It is a very funny and entertaining Christmas album from Mr. Dylan. He has made a classical Christmas album – in some way or another. This is probably the most interesting Christmas record ever released and Dylan has put a lot of effort and energy in doing this right. I love “Christmas in the Heart” and I tend to define it as a holyday Dylan masterpiece. It‘s that good! ( http://bit.ly/8VaSON )

The reviews were more differentiated, but the album received a lot of negative reviews. Christmas In The Heart is obviously a album that you either love or hate. At that time I was thinking Christmas In The Heart might be the best Christmas album ever released. I honestly did not understand what was going on. Had I lost all my critical sense and was I completely mistaken about the project?

Fortunately, things have changed. From being described as a total failure, has Christmas In The Heart received more and more positive reviews! Finally, on Sunday, December 20, 2009 I was kind of Saved. The English writer Michael Gray, the author of Song & Dance Man, The Art Of Bob Dylan and The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia etc. wrote a very good review of the album on his web site:

Christmas In The Heart. OK. Here goes… I love it! And admire it. ( http://bit.ly/7scZy0 )

Mr. Grey was as I mentioned among the people who had written the album off completely based on the samples published by Amazon.uk. He might have (as many Dylan fans) been caught by the Kubler-Ross model:

When there is some sort of shock in one’s life, there is a theory that one goes through five stages of grief, also known as the Kubler-Ross model. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. (Dylan, ‘Christmas In The Heart,’ and the Kubler-Ross model (http://bit.ly/6qqyYZ ) )

Dylan is a genius, and he is always a step ahead of us. History tends to repeat itself. Dylan was written off so many times. In my blog post Last thought on Christmas In The Heart I wrote:

You either hate or love it. But “Christmas in the Heart” is about far more than emotions. The pieces fit perfectly in the puzzle. Dylan is completing his musical testament. (http://bit.ly/6T1cD8)

I look forward to Christmas Eve with Christmas In The Heart.

Merry Christmas to everybody!

Last thoughts on Bob Dylan’s Christmas In The Heart

By Stein Arne Nistad, Fidelity

You either hate or love it. But «Christmas in the Heart» is about far more than emotions. The pieces fit perfectly in the puzzle. Dylan is completing his musical testament.

Ever since Amazon.uk by a mistake (?) published 30 seconds sound clips from «Christmas in the Heart» September 17.th, the release has received much attention. Hardcore Dylan fans carpet bombed the discussion thread on ExpectingRain.com with their negative opinions about the project, and Dylan’s artistically mistake. Music reviewers around the world have either loved or hated the album. The same applies to the general public. It seems that they either understand and love the concept or simply don`t get it. I however, still stick to my review published tSeptember 18th: «Christmas in the Heart» is a masterpiece and possible one of the best Christmas album ever released! (http://jeveitetstelle.blogspot.com/2009/10/review-christmas-in-heart.html)

Still the album classifies as one of Dylan’s more obscure releases. Dylan has always preferred to do the unexpected. «John Wesley Harding» from 1967 did not represent a natural continuation from «Blonde on Blonde». It was a complete change in musical direction. The next albums from that period «The Basement Tapes» the country crooner album «Nashville Skyline» and «New Morning» are a mix of different musical styles. «New Moring» includes songs like «If Dogs Run Free» and «Three Angels» introducing a more jazz inspired side of Bob Dylan.

Then came «Self Portrait» in 1970. The album was received by the Dylan fans much in the same way as this year’s Christmas effort. As time goes by «Self Portrait» manifests itself as a good but not great album. It also makes a kind of sense in the Dylan catalogue. It is Dylan’s «White Album». It includes a variety of genres, expressions and musical styles, covers and originals. Greil Marcus wrote in his Rolling Stone review: «What is this shit». He did not get it at that point in time. The statement feels today as an absurdity. «Self Portrait» is simply far better than its reputation.

Dylan’s religious period is also an important and neglected chapter. Again, the members of the Dylan church went black. My first concert ever with Dylan, was in Drammen, Norway in 1981. The audience did throw stink bombs in the middle of the concert. Many of them had written Dylan off completely after he released and performed his new religious songs. The concerts got poor reviews in the papers. In retrospect, the concert was amazing. The bootleg documents an intense and well performing artist.
«Slow Train Coming» and the fundamentalist gospel album «Saved» were, and still are ground-breaking releases in its genre. «Saved» is perhaps the strongest gospel record ever made. The lyrics are certainly not easy to accept though. But it is still well written songs, given a «Born Again Christian» approach. It therefore makes perfectly sense that some of the world’s finest gospel artists joined forces to make the celebration album, «Gotta Serve Somebody, the gospel songs of Bob Dylan». Bob Dylan’s own versions of the songs, are in my opinion however far better than the cover versions.
In the late eighties and early nineties he released the beautiful album «Oh Mercy» and then the following low point «Under The Red Sky». His next step represented a complete change in direction. «Good As I Been To You» and «World Gone Wrong» are two brilliant releases. They are documentations of Bob Dylan’s historical songbook, and in many ways the inspiration to the wonderful Johnny Cash project «American Recordings». This was, except his first album Bob Dylan, Dylan’s first serious attempt to document his musical Heritance (I do not count Self Portrait and Dylan)
I see a direct line from these two albums to Dylan’s documentation project in the 21st century. «Love and Theft», «Modern Times» and to a degree «Together Through Life» are from my point of view mostly about re-creating musical inspiration from his youth and childhood. Dylan has repeatedly expressed the love and respect for this musical tradition.
In this perspective, it is appropriate and important that Dylan releases a Christmas album. The album is true to the songs origin. Dylan performs them with love, respect and he is in my opinion true to the songs values and intentions, just as he was on «Good As I Been To You» and «World Gone Wrong». Dylan obviously loves this Christmas project. It is expressed in the hilarious video – but most of all in the way he performs the songs.
A lot of people simply love this album. When you first has broken the code, and learned to love it, it`s no way back. From that moment, «Christmas in the heart» it is the ultimate Christmas album. It can be played two again and again and again.
Dylan has given us a wonderful Christmas present. He has already released the best rock, folk, protest, blues, love song, country, roots, traditional and gospel album ever. His charity Christmas album, will give millions of poor people meals through the Holliday season. Can it be any better than that?
Dylan is a genius. «Christmas In The Heart» is a masterpiece and one of the best Christmas albums ever. It documents another part of Dylan’s musical inspiration and tradition. The pieces fit perfectly in the puzzle. Dylan is completing his musical testament.

Review: Bob Dylan`s Christmas In the Heart

By Stein Arne Nistad, Fidelity

When I first heard about Dylan’s Christmas project, I must admit I thought it was a joke. First of all, Christmas In the Heart is not a new Bob Dylan CD. It`s a charity project. Dylan and the musicians do not get a single penny according to Dylan’s web site. The record does not include any original Dylan tunes. All the tracks are Dylan’s interpretation of traditional Christmas songs. The fifteen tracks are picked mostly from the American Christmas tradition and include songs like “Here Comes Santa Claus”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” among others. Hence, this is not a record for Dylan fans, which I believe tend to hate Christmas carols in general. The record is obviously targeted for the general public. The whole idea is to sell records, generate money and to give poor people free meals during Christmas. This is important facts to keep in mind.

Dylan has loosened up over the last few years: He has finally stopped fighting his own legend. He recent records exposes humor, irony and is more playful than ever. It`s like he is thinking that life isn`t that serious after all. Dylan`s inspiration from traditional blues, jazz and music hall songs from the 1920 to 1950 is obvious. It`s manifested on “Love & Theft” from 2001 and is also the inspiration for “Modern Times” and is also recognizable on his more bluesy 2009 effort “Together through life”.
Dylan’s Christmas album is in an odd way inspired from the same tradition. It gives me a kind of Dylan meets Disney, Sinatra and Andrew Sisters feeling. Dylan has simply made a Christmas record true to a musical heritage from the forties and fifties. The arrangements have a traditional and somewhat old aged sound. The choir arrangements remind me of Disney’s “zippi du dua”-song. In fact, I never expected to associate any of Dylan’s work with that kind of music. Still it makes a kind of sense. American Christmas songs and records from that period sounded like that. He doesn`t try to convert them to Dylan songs. He just sings and arranges them in a way that is true to the songs musical origin. Still the album has a modern touch. The sound and production is good. Dylan is singing nice and is really into it. His rusty voice filled with patina and age makes a very interesting contrast to the in many ways well known arrangements. His voice gives a new and sometimes unexpected feeling. If Santa has a voice, Dylan is probably the closest we ever get to hear it.
Obviously Dylan had a good time in the studio. It’s a lot of energy in the band and in Dylan’s performances. The record is packed with instruments spanning from accordion, steel guitars to strings, bells and drums. The band is based on his current touring band. Tony Garnier on bass, George Receli on drums and percussion, Don Herron on steel guitar, mandolin, violin and trumpet. Bob Dylan is playing guitar, electric piano and harmonica. The touring band is extended by David Hildalgo (Los Lobos) on guitar, accordion, mandolin and trumpet, Phil Upchurch on guitar and finally Patrick Warren on piano, organ and celeste. The band is backed by the four men and three women strong “Mixed Voice Singer”. They do a fantastic job bringing this record sounding like it was recorded back in the fifties.
Despite the fact that some of the arrangements and songs initially sound a bit strange, I soon recognize an underlying quality in almost every one of them. It’s strange, but I feel Dylan’s genius comes true and all of the songs on the record grow on me. As a Dylan fan I think “Christmas Blues” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is the highlights of the album. “Must be Santa” is probably the only polka and the most up-tempo song Dylan ever has recorded. It`s great fun and is also expected to be the soundtrack for the video from the album. However the quality of this record is so high, that I am not able to spot one weak song, if you buy the idea and intention with this project.
Releasing a Christmas album is in my opinion the most unexpected, weird and surreal thing Dylan ever has done. When Dylan decided to enter the snowman-reindeer–Santa Claus business – what could we expect? I think it is important to keep in mind that Dylan is singing these Christmas songs for charity and fun, not for creating another masterpiece. Many Dylan fans will claim that this is the worst Dylan record ever. I disagree. I think it is a hilariously funny record, based on good musical craftsmanship. Some of the songs express a kind of enjoyable madness. It works in a mysteriously way. I believe “Christmas In the Heart” will find it’s natural place in many people’s Christmas tradition, also among Dylan fans after the first shock.

This album is not a new Dylan record. It is a very funny and entertaining Christmas album from Mr. Dylan. He has made a classical Christmas album – in some way or another. This is probably the most interesting Christmas record ever released and Dylan has put a lot of effort and energy in doing this right. I love “Christmas in the Heart” and I tend to define it as a Dylan holyday masterpiece. It`s that good!

Norwegian magazine Fidelity #41

This article is a brief translation of the review written in Norwegian

Bob Dylan: Christmas In the Heart

Preliminary Review:
By Stein Arne Nistad

When I first heard about Dylan’s Christmas project, I must admit I thought it was a joke. But it proved to be true, and the official worldwide release is October 12th. Samples of all of the tracks on the record were probably by a mistake, available on the Internet September 17th. This preliminary review is based on these samples, not the CD.

First of all, Christmas In the Heart is not a new Bob Dylan CD. It`s a charity project. Dylan and the musicians do not get a single penny according to Dylan’s web site. The record does not include any original Dylan tunes. All the tracks are Dylan’s interpretation of traditional Christmas songs. The fifteen tracks are picked mostly from the American Christmas tradition and include songs like “Here Comes Santa Claus”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” among others. Hence, this is not a record for Dylan fans, which I believe tend to hate Christmas carols in general. The record is obviously targeted for the general public. The whole idea is to sell records, generate money and to give poor people free meals during Christmas. This is important facts to keep in mind.

In my opinion, Dylan has loosened up over the last few years: He has finally stopped fighting his own legend. He recent records exposes humor, irony and is more playful than ever. It`s like he is thinking that life isn`t that serious after all. Dylan`s inspiration from traditional blues, jazz and music hall songs from the 1920 to 1950 is obvious and manifested on “Love & Theft” from 2001 and “Modern Times” 2006. It`s also recognizable on his more bluesy 2009 effort “Together through life”.

In my opinion Dylan’s Christmas album is in an odd way inspired from the same tradition. It gives me a kind of Dylan meets Disney, Sinatra and Andrew Sisters feeling. Dylan has simply made a Christmas record true to a musical heritage from the forties and fifties. The arrangements have a traditional and somewhat old aged sound. The choir arrangements remind me of Disney’s “zippi du dua”-song. In fact, I never expected to associate any of Dylan’s work with that kind of music. Still it makes a kind of sense. American Christmas songs and records from that period sounded like that. He doesn`t try to convert them to Dylan songs. He just sings and arranges them in a way that is true to the songs musical origin. Still the album has a modern touch. The sound and production is terrific based on the samples I`ve heard. Dylan is singing nice. His rusty voice filled with patina and age makes a very interesting contrast to the in many ways well known arrangements. His voice gives a new and sometimes unexpected feeling. If Santa has a voice, Dylan is probably the closest we ever get to hear it.
Obviously Dylan had a good time in the studio. It’s a lot of energy in the band and in Dylan’s performances. The record is packed with instruments spanning from accordion, steel guitars to strings, bells and drums.

Despite the fact that some of the arrangements and songs definitively is not my ball game, I recognize an underlying quality in almost every one of them. It’s strange, but I feel Dylan’s genius comes true and I believe most of the songs on the record will grow on me. As a Dylan fan I think “Christmas Blues” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” is the highlights of the album.

Releasing a Christmas album is in my opinion the most unexpected, weird and surreal thing Dylan ever has done. When Dylan decided to enter the snowman-reindeer–Santa Claus business – what could we expect? I think it is important to keep in mind that Dylan is singing these Christmas songs for charity and fun, not for creating another masterpiece. Many Dylan fans will claim that this is the worst Dylan record ever. I disagree. I think it is a hilariously funny record, based on good musical craftsmanship. Some of the songs express a kind of enjoyable madness. It works in a mysteriously way. I believe “Christmas In the Heart” will find it’s natural place in many people’s Christmas tradition, also among Dylan fans after the first shock.
This album is not a new Dylan record. It is a very funny and entertaining Christmas album from Mr. Dylan. He has made a classical Christmas album – in some way or another!

Norwegian magazine Fidelity #41
This is a brief translation of the review written in Norwegian

Comments? nistad@gazette.no

Narum: ”Samma hen du fær”

Det er sjelden jeg virkelig gleder meg til en utgivelse, men debutalbumet til søskengruppa Narum hadde jeg utrolig store forventninger til. Årsaken var forsmaken, ”Je veit et stelle”, som kom i vinter. Det er en utrolig vakker sang, hvor den sjeldent poetiske teksten synges på kav totning og med et smektende orgel og pianoarrangement som bakteppe. Hele sangen bar preg av et ekstremt godt musikalsk og poetisk håndverk. Jeg var rett og slett solgt!

Narum er et familieprosjekt, dog med en viktig krumtapp, Lars Christian Narum, som flyttet til Eina og fikk tak i et gammelt ærverdig piano. Pianostemmeren omtalte det som et håpløst tilfelle. Lars Christian er musiker på heltid. Han trakterer tangentinstrumenter i Hellbillies. Derfor måtte han uansett øve … og ut av det hanglete pianoet kom det låter. Han tok et nytt skritt og begynte å skrive tekster til. Han fikk søstera Benedikte til å gjøre en demo. Men det låt ikke riktig før Benedikte foreslo at det skulle synges på totning. Da funka det, og da bror og studioeier Jon Anders ble med, var trioen komplett – og Narum en realitet.

Debutalbumet til Narum er faktisk noe av det fineste jeg har hørt. Det er mange grunner til det. Musikalsk står albumet fjellstøtt og piano- og orgelarrangementene, som er det bærende musikalske virkemiddelet, er ren nytelse. Uttrykket ligger i roots- , vise- og countryland – og da i den beste betydningen av disse ordene.

Narums tekster er det verdt å trekke frem. De er poetiske, vakre og full av sjel og innhold. At de synges på totning tilfører en dimensjon som hever dem og underbygger det poetiske. Det er lett å forstå at bokmålsversjonene nok fremsto mye flatere.

Benedikte Narum Johansen har en uttrykksfull, var og vakker stemme som kler både låtene og tekstene. Lyden og produksjonen er flott. Det er lenge mellom hver gang klangen og sanseligheten i enkle pianoarrangementer formidles som her. ”Kolbu” er en nydelig låt. Den er et godt eksempel på hvor enkelt og flott det kan gjøres. Det samme gjelder ”Jeg veit et stelle” og radiohiten ”Samma hen du fer”. Norums debut er intet mindre enn en fantastisk utgivelse som jeg egentlig ikke kan få anbefalt sterkt nok! Får du anledning bør du få med deg gruppa live på høstens turne. Narum er definitivt et band som vil sette spor. En formidabel debut!

Se video: http://vimeo.com/5373971

Kommer i Fidelity 40

“The Definitive Leadbelly”

I musikkhistorien finnes det noen som har satt viktige spor og blitt legender. Leadbelly er en av dem. En legende verdig er det selvsagt uklart når han ble født. Og historien er ispedd både kjærlighet, rus og død. Leadbellys repertoar og formidling av både tradisjons- og eget stoff gjør han til en viktig musikalsk hjørnestein. Hans musikk påvirket mange artister og derigjennom hvordan moderne roots-, folk- og bluesmusikk har utviklet seg.

Huddie William Ledbetter som han het ble trolig født i Mooringsport, Louisiana, 23. januar 1888 og døde i New York, 6. desember 1949. Leadbelly skrev egne sanger. Det aller viktigste var likevel at han sugde til seg og kunne spille massevis av tradisjonelt stoff. Som musiker startet karrieren hans da han fulgte den blinde folkesangeren Blind Lemon Jefferson på turneer i Sørstatene. Begge forvaltet den samme musikalske arven i form av folkeviser, blues og negro spirituals. Leadbelly spilte enn haug instrumenter som piano, mandolin, munnspill, fele og trekkspill. Hovedinstrumentet hans var likevel akustisk 12-strengs gitar som han trakterte etter alle kunstens regler og han omtale seg selv som ” King among the world’s 12 string guitarists”.

Artistnavnet er på gravstøtten hans skrevet som Lead belly, og betyr egentlig blymage. Han levde i og for seg opp til navnet sitt. Leadbelly hadde en lang og litt mystisk historie med politiet. I 1918 fikk han en dom på 30 år for mord, men ble sluppet fri allerede i 1925. I 1930 fikk han en ny dom på ti år for mordforsøk.

I den Amerikanske musikkhistorien er det noen nøkkelpersoner som virkelig har bidratt til å dokumentere tradisjonsstoff. En av dem er Harry Smith, som samlet ”Anthology of American Folk Music” med 84 folk- og countryinnspillinger fra USA hentet fra 1920- og 1930-tallet. Denne Antologien spilte en viktig rolle for oppblomstringen av folkemusikk i USA på 1950-tallet og 1960-tallet. Like viktig som Smith er kanskje den amerikanske folkemusikksamleren John Lomax og sønnen Alan Lomax som kom i kontakt med Leadbelly.

Lomax gjorde de første opptakene med Leadbelly i fengslet mens han satt inne for mord. Han fikk benådet Leadbelly i 1934. Leadbelly tryglet Lomax om å bli hans sjåfør på hans reiser rundt i USA. Laedbelly fikk ja og sammen dro de på kryss og tvers gjennom Sørstatene, hvor de gjorde lydbåndopptak og møte folke- og bluessangere, mens Leadbelly spilte der det falt seg. John og Alan Lomax skrev en bok om Leadbelly og bidro til at han fikk spille inn plate. I de følgende årene opptrådte han både på nattklubber, universiteter og skoler. Leadbelly fikk etterhvert store alkoholproblemer. Det gjorde at Lomax fant det nødvendig å avslutte samarbeidet midt i en turne. Han sendte Leadbelley hjem, men ga det utestående honoraret til Ledabellys kone, slik at pengene bokstavelig talt ikke skulle drikkes opp. Dette gjorde at vennskapet med John Lomax tok en brå slutt. Det endte i stedet opp som en bitter strid om penger. Alan Lomax tok imidlertid opp tråden – og bidro til at Leadbelly kom seg på fote og opptrådte regelmessig på radio frem til sin død.

Noen av de mest kjente låtene etter Leadbelly er ”Good Night Irene” som ble en stor hit etter Leadbellys død. Andre av hans kjente sanger er ” Midnight special” og ”Cottonfields” som ble spilt inn av The Beach Boys. Nirvana spilte inn ”Where Did You Sleep Last Night” på sitt MTV Unplugged album og det ble en kjempehit. Også Abba og Stones har gjort suksess med Leadbellys sanger.

Etter hans død er Leadbellys sanger blitt standardlåter på visesangeres og bluesartisters repertoar. Derfor er Leadbelly å regne som en av gudfedrene til moderne blues, rock og folk.

Den helt nye samlingen ”The definitive Leadbelly” er en flott dokumentasjon av hans musikk. Innspillingene fra 1920 til 1949 har naturlig nok vekslende kvalitet selv om lyden er praktfullt digitalt restaurert. Likevel formidler både stemningen og sounden amerikanske folkemusikks opphav. Her fornemmes både tidsånden, naturen og til og med lukta fra den amerikanske landsbygda – omtrent slik Cohen-brødrene skildrer det i den fantastiske filmen ”O Brother, Where Art Thou?”. En del av Leadbellys låter danner faktisk bakteppet til denne filmen.

Leadbelly-samlingene omfatter over åtti låter samt en DVD med intervjuer og sjeldne fotografier. I tillegg er den utstyrt med et lite hefte. Samlingen er et historisk dokument, som gir musikalsk og biografisk innsikt i røttene til Dylans, Stones og en drøss av andre artisters musikk. ”The Definitive Leadbelly” er amerikansk blues og folk i sin mest originale tapning.

Kommer i Fidelity 40