Home Read Classic Album Review: Various Artists | Roots Music: An American Journey

Classic Album Review: Various Artists | Roots Music: An American Journey

Savour some of the finest moments from the seminal roots label Rounder Records.


This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Thanks to the runaway success of the award-winning soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, there are more roots, folk, country, blues and Americana music collections around than you can shake a hickory switch at. Here’s the lowdown on one:

No. of CDs: Four.
No. of Songs: 68.
The Concept: Coming ’round Rounder mountain. Roots Music collects the best moments from two decades’ worth of releases on the seminal roots label Rounder Records.
The Execution: Surprisingly good. This set has few household names — unless Boozoo Chavis is big in your house. But while many of these 68 cuts are unheralded, nearly all are indisputably superb. One quibble: How does An American Journey include Canucks Sarah Harmer, Natalie MacMaster and The Cash Brothers? Perhaps they mean North American Journey?
Names Dropped: Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sleepy LaBeef, Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, The Holmes Brothers, Beausoleil, Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore.
Choice Cuts: Almost every one — but standouts include Suzanne Thomas’s starkly gothic banjo lament Rain and Snow, James Booker’s piano stomper All Around the World and the funky blues of Gatemouth Brown’s cool Frosty.
Extras! Extras! A 48-page book with mini-bios, recording info and pictures.
Perfect For: The aficionado who wants to expand his horizons.