Agony Shorthand

Monday, February 23, 2004
V/A : “TIMES AIN’T LIKE THEY USED TO BE, VOLUME 3”…..Did you know that Yazoo’s already up to an eighth volume of this series, as of 2/23/04? That’s a lot of repackaging, reshuffling and remastering going on, but John Q. Public keeps demanding to hear more rural hillbilly & country blues 78s, both obscure and celebrated, and the Yazoo marketing department always finds a way to step up to the plate to deliver the goods. See, if you bought the entire Yazoo compilation discography once over, you’d probably find yourself with the same tracks repeated at least three times (I believe I have my hero SKIP JAMES’ “I’m So Glad” scattered on various comps about 6 times now – and it’s not even one of my favorite tracks from the Mississippi master, just the one CREAM happened to popularize). This 3rd volume of “Times Ain’t Like They Used To Be” is chock full of – as they put it – “fiddle tunes, rags, banjo songs, religious selections, old ballads, blues, etc.”, all from the 1920s and early 30s. It holds together real well, and there are certainly a good dozen I’ve never heard before elsewhere, most notably UNCLE DAVE MACON & HIS FRUIT JAR DRINKERS (!), WILMER WATTS & HIS LONEY EAGLES and, that’s right, the FRUIT JAR GUZZLERS and their “Steel Driving Man”. Ultimately I’d recommend this entire series as a terrific introduction for the rural 78rpm beginner; it’s hard to picture where you’d get a better sense of the multiple styles and charcters of the era than here (my own 78rpm education was furthered most notably by the “ROOTS AND BLUES” box set a decade ago, but I don’t see those around much anymore). For the rest of us, it’s a good one to buy used and spend the bigger dollars on some Old Hat comps instead.