Jealous Haters Since 1998!
Home | News | Reviews | Day In Rock | Photos | RockNewsWire | Singled Out | Tour Dates/Tix | Feeds

The Harry Smith Project (2 CDs, 2 DVDs) Review

One thing struck me immediately when I began watching the concert DVD. The sound on the concert DVD is incredible. I truly felt like I was there watching all these performances. It certainly is a sweeping collection of music with performances by Beck, Sonic Youth, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, and many others. A lot of the performances are very spare with the singer stationary in front of the microphone. Beth Orton has one of the spare performances including her acoustic guitar, bass and a backing vocalist. Beck and his band give another sort of stark performance of Robert Johnson's "The Last Fair Deal Gone Down." It's one of my favorites on the disc.

Another one of my favorites is "This Song of Love" performed by Don Byron, Percy Heath and Bill Frisell. Bon Byron introduces the song by saying that when he first heard it, he couldn't understand the vocals because they were in a language he didn't know. As he listened closer, he realized it was a gospel song in which at least the chorus was in English. Long story short, these three gentleman made it into a jazzy instrumental tune that is just outstanding.

One of the funniest things on this DVD is the introduction of "Fishing Blues" by David Thomas. He says the song is about a man lying in bed hearing the men and women in the streets shouting at each other and the man thinks, "I want some of that." Then he takes a kind of awkward pause and sips from his flask.

This DVD includes some strange continuity things. One track is a non-sequitur of Harry Smith on the telephone in 1986. Eventually, he says they're making his legs too big and needs to get off the phone.

Another thing that struck me as unusual was the placement of The Folksmen (Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Christopher Guest) singing "Old Joe's Place" right after Roswell Rudd and Sonic Youth's version of "Dry Bones." It's a pretty odd sequence, don't you think? Going from the discordant sounds of Sonic Youth to simple folk and comedy of The Folksmen. I never would have thought to put those together.

What's impressive about this concert DVD isn't just the performances of so many different legends. The sweeping scope of this project is also pretty impressive, particularly since all the songs compiled by Harry Smith were written and released between 1927 and 1934. This feels like a comprehensive history of American folk music. I will say this much. When you sit down to watch this DVD, make sure you've got a good block of time. The DVD runs a little longer than two hours, but it will take longer than that to absorb it all.

And the concert DVD is one of two DVDs in this collection. Another DVD provides the backstory of Harry Smith and his legendary folk anthology. This DVD provides clips of performances from the various concerts that comprise this collection, performances from old-time performers like Son House and commentary about Harry in general and the music he compiled.

One very interesting thing on the DVD was Harry Smith talking about how he learned to look for records in Bellingham where he lived. It may not seem like something that requires explanation, but it's an interesting story. He would seek out stores that were going out of business and pore over their records, looking for records that "sounded odd." More than that, he wanted to challenge convention and get people to listen to things that might sound different or tackle difficult subject matter.

In this DVD, various people say that Harry loved looking for quirky performances of traditional music. I think that's exactly what has been accomplished with this collection of CDs and DVDs. This is a collection that Harry Smith would probably be proud of because it does challenge the listener and certainly goes beyond the realm of the music that fills the airwaves today.

CD Info and Links

The Harry Smith Project (2 CDs, 2 DVDs)

Label:Shout! Factory

Preview and Purchase This CD Online

Visit the official homepage

More articles for this artist

tell a friend about this review



News Reports
Day in Rock:
Journey's Neal Schon Wants To Work With Steve Perry Again- Serj Tankian Addresses System Of A Down Issues- Jack White Does Rockin' Jam With Pearl Jam- Rolling Stones- more

Day in Pop

Yesterday's Day in Rock: Taylor Swift Reveals Her Mother Has Cancer- Rich Homie Quan Surrenders To Police Over Alleged Nightclub Assault- Justin Bieber Duets With Ariana Grande- Mumford & Sons- more

 Subscribe To Day in Rock


Ladies Only: Jennie Abrahamson- Rachel Garlin- Nneka- More

Album of the Week: Led Zeppelin's When The West Was Won

Karyn Crisis' Gospel Of The Witches - Salem's Wounds

The Blues: John Mayall's Bluesbreakers- Arlen Roth, Mike Henderson Band- Slam Allen

Trauma Interview

December in Red - The Way Out

Battleaxe - Power From the Universe Reissue

SOKO Interview

The Compulsions - Dirty Fun

Rock Reads: Morbid Tales! A Tribute to Celtic Frost

Death Penalty - Death Penalty

On The Record: The Wild Beyond

RockPile: Minutian- Odin's Court- THEO

Michael Ubaldini Interview

Root 66: Cameron Mitchell- Stacy Jones- Greg Shirley


Search for Tickets

Or Browse For Tickets

Today's Rock News

Ozzy Sets Home On Fire

Santana, Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie Reunite at Journey Show

Ted Nugent's Wife Arrested

Iron Maiden Tops Billboard's Hot Tours Chart

Pop Star Fergie Names Son After Guns N' Roses Frontman Axl Rose

Jack White Recording New Songs With The Dead Weather

Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington Reveal EP Details

The Who Releasing Massive Super Deluxe Edition of Tommy

Paul McCartney Talks New Song and His Plans Never To Retire

August Burns Red Announce Special Screening of Documentary

The National Curating Grateful Dead Tribute Album

KISS' Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons Announce Book Signings

Mike Portnoy Reveals Full Progressive Nation At Sea Lineup

Saxon's Biff Byford Explains Evil Look Was Down To Illness

Astrid Kirchherr's Early Beatles Photos To Be Exhibited Next Month

Gene Simmons and Engelbert Humperdinck Footage Goes Online

Red Fang Streaming New Song ' Blood Like Cream' Online

Sammy Hagar Compares Les Paul Guitars To Muscle Cars

What Do Crocheting And Rock 'N' Roll Have In Common? Deap Vally

Classic Rock Going Country

Subscribe to Day in Rock Report by Email

Today's Pop News

North Korea Reportedly Execute 12 Musicians

Jay-Z Releases Holy Grail Video Featuring Justin Timberlake

Big Sean in Fall Out Boy's New Video

Thousands of Justin Timberlake Fans Flood 'Take Back The Night' Filming

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O Unplugs

Miguel Covers Pink's Just Like A Pill

Eric Church Going In A Different Direction With 'Chief' Follow Up

Kip Moore Has Almost Finished New Album

Juicy J Twerk Tweet Ends Up As Scholarship Competition

Danny Brown's On Stage Sex Act Was Not Planned

Bastille Trace The Best Of British Rock, Including Morrissey's Pompadour

Singled Out: Dulcinea Renee's Pictures Of You

More News

anti Worthy Links
The Screen Door superLOUD A Journal of Musical Things Lloyd Zeffler blog Demolish Mag Nightwatcher's House of Rock CJ Chilvers Deja Voodoo The 1st Five Hard Rock Memorabilia Day in Rock @twitter

New Mystery Book from
antiMusic's Dawn Marie Fichera!

Click Here to Buy T-Shirts!
Click Here to Buy T-Shirts!


Tell a Friend about this page - Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2013 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved. antiMusic works on a free link policy for reprinting of our original articles, click here for details. Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.