The original liner notes from this record are rather special, so special, in fact, that I just had to scan them digitally. They were written by Neil V. Rosenberg from the Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada) on April 15th, 1973. I did this because they provide such incredible insight, not only into the songs, but also a brief and ugly insight into the written definition of Bluegrass music from the 1960s. I thoroughly recommend reading those below after you finish with my fantastic flat-pickin’ paragraphs.
To begin, I was blown away by the sheer force of Hazel Dickens’ and Alice Foster’s vocals on this record. There is so much forward, mid-range focused control over every syllable sung by these women. In Michigan, where I broadcast and write from, there is a distinct and tightly-knit bluegrass society of sound that I was raised around. I’m drawn to bluegrass by the Irish influence, the acoustic instruments in perfect intonation with one another, and the nasally (yet polite) vocal harmonies that are impossible to ignore. As a musician myself who leans in favor of acoustic instruments, this record calls to me. The first time I listened to this album, my dog, Zuma, started to bark her tail off thanks to my foot slamming on the floor to the beat of Hazel’s bass groove. Advantageous abrasiveness—that’s an excellent way to describe this record.
I really enjoy romanticizing about how this recording session went. Whatever the engineer, Peter Siegel had going on in his head must have been intense! These performances are recorded SO hot that I wouldn’t be surprised if Van Halen’s “Brown Sound” was actually influenced by this very record! The vocal compression is exceptionally unique to my ears. First of all, they cut through the mix like a saw. There is no razor blade precision on this album, and thank goodness for that. It’s gritty, dirty, raw, and impossible to overlook. Yet, there is no sibilance, plosives, or gasps of breath that would distract any listener from the artists’ message. Finding that balance as a recording engineer is super-tough. Peter Siegel deserves a great deal of credit. Still, to capture a performance like this, the ultimate credit goes to the musicians for understanding their craft.
This record is essential listening for any fan of acoustic music. It provides a fine example of what American music truly is. “Won’t You Come & Sing For Me” sounds like a template for what bluegrass and Americana musicians strive to release in 2020. The track, “A Distant Land to Roam”, originally written by The Carter Family, is my favorite song on this record. I think it best exemplifies the tempo, headspace, and relationship between the spirits that were all together within this recording session. Hazel Dickens is a monster of a bassist. Alice Foster sings and strums herself raw. Good luck not wearing a hole in your jeans from tapping too hard while spinning this gem.
CLICK HERE to read the original liner notes written by Neil V. Rosenberg from the Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Title: Won’t You Come & Sing For Me
Pressing Reviewed: 1973 on Folkway (FTS-31034)
Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 73-750706
- Hazel Dickens – Bass, Vocals
- Alice Foster – Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
- Lamar Grier – Banjo
- David Grisman – Guitar, Baritone
- Billy Baker – Fiddle
- Mike Seeger – Guitar
- Fed Weisz: Mandolin, Bass Vocals
Recorded by: Peter Siegel
Photo / Design: Betsy Siggins
Who Writes Liner Notes?
Liner Notes is written by Mitch Anderson, Founder and Host over at Black Circle Radio. Now in their tenth year, Michigan-based Black Circle Radio (BCR) are celebrating a full decade of all-vinyl programming. Their eclectic display of music and impeccable dedication to music on wax has earned them a strong reputation across the vinyl community.
We’d love to hear what you think of this months record, do leave your thoughts in the comments section.