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The Alan Lomax Collection
Big Brazos - Texas Prison Recordings, 1933 and 1934

Rounder Records (

cd cover This volume of The Alan Lomax Collection continues his authoritative recordings of and research into American folk music - particularly prison work songs. These recordings were made on a prison farm situated on the Brazos River in Texas.

The 20 songs on this CD are vocal renderings of traditional verses, spiritual influences, and lyrical improvisations, all brought together in the work song. Comprehensive liner notes explain the context for and provide the lyrics to the songs, which were recorded for posterity on old equipment and are somewhat noisy. But surface noise melts away when the combined effect of the soulful harmonies and the stark brutality of the scenes described are felt by the listener.

Sit back, relax, and listen to the soundtrack of oppression - of hard labor in an institutionalized system of slavery. These men sang to keep pace with work, and one step ahead of the whip. - Robert Seiden

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