Here's a fascinating listen from beginning to end - in fact compiled with that kind of listening in mind - so while there's all kinds of music from many different decades, this compilation has an even flow to it.
Compiled and produced by photographer John Cohen, this cd spotlights artists that Cohen photographed throughout the years - some of these photos are found in the liner notes but all of them can be found in a companion book of Cohen's photographs titled 'There Is No Eye'.
Included here are unreleased tracks from Bob Dylan and Rev. Gary Davis, as well as crucial tracks from Woody Guthrie, Bill Monroe, Elizabeth Cotton, Roscoe Holcomb, Carter Stanley, and Muddy Waters. In fact several of the tracks were recorded by Cohen himself.
From his travails with the Beat writers in the 1960s NYC Greenwich Village scene (check out track 15 for some beat jazz scat), his fascination with Reverend Gary Davis in 1953 Harlem (amazing guitar picking on track 2), and a village band from Sacsamarca, Peru in 1964 (the band doing it up Andean hillbilly style on track 22), this compilation brings to the forefront the kind of folk music not so easy to come by in the record shops or radio, but easily found in someone's living room, church or front steps.
If you're popping in a Smithsonian Folkways Recordings compilation you know you are in for a treat - and this one is all the more interesting thanks to the variety - and the added pleasure of reading the personal liner notes by Cohen and seeing the photos of the artists.
For the Bob Dylan track alone this is worth checking out - but couple that track with all the authentic and captivating recordings and the photographs, and this cd is a genuine find.