Picks and Pans Review: Lead Belly's Last Sessions

updated 01/30/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/30/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

Lead Belly

Billed as the king of the 12-string guitar, Lead Belly wowed '40s audiences in New York, Chicago and other U.S. cities with his raw country blues. A year before his death from Lou Gehrig's disease in 1949 in his early 60s, Lead Belly, a former convict, recorded the bulk of his repertoire and chatted about his hard life in three intimate sessions at a friend's home that are replayed in their entirety on this four-CD set. Such Lead Belly classics as "Rock Island Line," "Goodnight Irene" and "Midnight Special" are all included in this mother lode of music from a true American original. (Smithsonian/Folkways)

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