The American Epic Series
The Best Of The Carter Family
The Best of Mississippi John Hurt
The Best Of The Memphis Jug Band
The Best Of Blind Willie Johnson
The Best Of Leadbelly
The Best Of Country
Third Man Records is intent on making sure we do not leave the past behind. Their contributions to the Music Industry over the past few years have made this quite clear. They’ve refurbished ancient machinery and helped increase the manufacturing of vinyl. They’ve put together some beautiful reissue campaigns of various early blues pioneers, for which we remain indebted to Jack White, and have made sure that lesser known recording artists of the past are not totally forgotten.
Regardless of whether or not Third Man has a current roster that impresses you, it is certainly hard to dispute their dedication to the process of making music available. Their latest project is both a documentary film and a reissue series of the same name, American Epic. The film focuses on the birth of modern music in America, or “America's greatest untold story ... an account of the cultural revolution that ultimately united a nation”. The film tells the story of how the industry was forced out of recording studios and into ordinary people’s homes. The vinyl reissue series documents the same incredible story. Broken up into multiple volumes, the series includes The Best Of The Memphis Jug Band, The Best Of The Carter Family, The Best Of Blind Willie Johnson, The Best Of Mississippi John Hurt, & the various artist compilation The Best Of Country. The roots of American music can be found in the grooves of these LPs and Third Man’s attention to detail helps ensure they don't lose the power of the original performances. It truly is a gift for those of us who have searched for high quality versions of these gems. The Best Of Country compilation is especially exciting, including cuts from Dock Boggs, Jimmie Rodgers, Frank Hutchinson and many more. Some of the selected artists have recorded discographies so sprawling that to see them all on one disc makes breaking into this territory both easy and pleasurable.
Although the music of this era is usually recorded quite crudely, it retains an intensity that can break through and once it hits you, it can truly become an obsession (as it has for many of us here at the shop). I can easily admit that when I first heard Mississippi John Hurt, I was intimidated by the simplicity of his approach and that of his contemporaries. I couldn't hear the emotion because it was such an unfamiliar palette of sound. But when it hits you, it hits you hard, and you suddenly become feverish in finding more music of its kind searching for the lesser knowns that have been captured over time, sometimes with only one single recorded song. It's authenticity cannot be denied. More amazing is that many of these people were simply sitting on their front porch when a man with a microphone came by and asked if they had a story to tell. That sort of immediacy remains endearing almost 100 years later. The American Epic series is an invitation to become familiar with the foundation of traditions that our country and our culture has relied upon ever since. (Adam)
Check out a track here.