As with all histories, context and an appreciation for the times are essential. In 1958, when the earliest of these recordings were made there were probably no more than a handful of reissues of pre-war country blues 78s available on record in the United States. The long-playing 33 1/3 record was, itself, only a recent invention. Today, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pre-war blues and hillbilly reissues available and in print, when it’s possible to walk into any halfway decent record store (to the extent record stores, halfway decent or otherwise, still exist) and find the complete recordings of Charley Patton or Blind Willie Johnson, it may be difficult to comprehend just how obscure and how otherworldly this music once was. — Glenn Jones, from the Introduction
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