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Various Artists

We Shall All Be Reunited: Revisiting Bristol Sessions 1927-1928

Review by Gary Hill

Bear Family is really one of the best companies for putting out these archival releases. This set is a reissue of an older set with new re-mastering. Given how long ago this music was recorded, it's amazing how good it sounds. Personally, I'm not a big fan of this kind of stuff, but there are several tracks here I really like, and very few I would skip. As with everything else these guys release, it's a very classy product with a great booklet. Particularly of interest to country music fans is the inclusion of the Carter Family on one track and Jimmie Rodgers (who is largely considered the father of country music) on another.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Ernest V. Stoneman & His Dixie Mountaineers - Sweeping Through The Gates
Country gospel music with a sea of voices is the order of business here. I really like the vocal arrangement on this quite a bit.
Blind Alfred Reed -The Wreck Of The Virginian (Take 2)
A violin is the musical backdrop for the voice on this cut. This old folk styled number is classy. It's one of the highlights of the disc as far as I'm concerned.
El Watson - Narrow Gauge Blues
This is a killer harmonica solo. The playing sometimes even resembles a train. This is another standout.
Johnson Brothers With Tennessee Wildcats - The Soldier's Poor Little Boy
Old-time, down-home country folk music is the concept here.
BF Shelton - Oh Molly Dear
While this is set in the same basic musical territory as the previous number was, I think this is more effective than that number. There is a dramatic, moody vibe to the tune that works well.
JP Nester - Black-Eyed Susie
There is a lot of energy to this cut. Multiple layers of sound paint this sonic tapestry. This is one of the standouts here.
Bull Mountain Moonshiners - Johnny Goodwin
We're back in the down-home zone here.
The Carter Family - The Poor Orphan Child
This isn't a big change from the song that came before it.
Alcoa Quartet - I'm Redeemed
This a gospel based number that is fairly effective.
Bill Henry Whitter - Rain Crow
Here we get another harmonica solo piece. While this isn't as strong as the other one, it has its charms.
Blackard's Moonshiners - Susanna Gal Dad
I like the energy and groove of this. It has a real hoedown vibe that works well.
Jimmie Rodgers - Sleep Baby Sleep
An intimate folk country number, this is one of the better pieces here. It features some of Rodgers' trademark yodeling.
Tenneva Ramblers - The Longest Train I Ever Saw
Very down-home in nature, this is not one of my favorites of the set.
West Virginia Coon Hunters - Your Blue Eyes Run Me Crazy
Bluegrass is what this would be called today, but there was no such thing then. Whatever you call it, it's very old-school.
Tennessee Mountaineers - Standing On The Promises
An acapella chorale styled piece, this is old gospel music.
My Name Is Ticklish Reuben Smyth - County Ramblers
I love the instrumental arrangement on this. The lyrics are playful, and so is the song in general.
Ernest Phipps & His Holiness Singers - Shine On Me
Down-home gospel music is the concept here. This isn't my kind of thing, but I'm sure that it probably works well for some people.
Howard – Peak (The Blind Musicians) - I Cannot Be Your Sweetheart
I like the fiddle playing on this tune. This is another standout piece.
Clarence Greene - Little Bunch Of Roses
Down-home country music is the concept here. This works pretty well.
Uncle Eck Dunford - Old Shoes And Leggin's
This is a fun little country folk tune.
Smith Brothers - My Mother Is Waiting For Me In Heaven Above
Down-home country gospel, this isn't my thing, but it's reasonably effective.
The Palmer Sisters - We'll Sing On That Shore
Nearly acapella, there is only some minor piano accompaniment. This is church styled music.
Tarter & Gay - Unknown Blues

I like this one a lot. It's a guitar based blues number that works so well. It's definitely one of the highlights.

Carolina Twins - New Orleans Is The Town I Like Best
With a lot of yodeling and some harmonica, this has a real down-home feeling to it.
Shortbuckle Roark & Family - I Truly Understand, You Love Another Man
Old-time country music is on the menu here.
Alfred G. Karnes - We Shall All Be Reunited
I like the guitar sound on this. The vocals are some of the best of the set, too. This has a much more modern folk music sound to it. This is another highlight.
 
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