I can’t believe it was ten years ago I first heard it. This album has seeped into more happy memories than any other I’ve ever purchased. It also holds the record of being the most stolen album I have ever owned and is the only album I have ever seen performed in order and in it’s entirety by a bunch of drunken folk musicians twice… maybe three times… but definitely twice.
From the smack of the first wooden mattock of the Fairfield Four to the last chord and high wailing harmony of the Stanley Brother’s ‘Angel Band’ the original album is pure class. By verse two of Dan Tyminski’s version of ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ you, and everyone else in the room, will have joined in the chorus. Your spine will tingle as Ralph Stanley begs Death to spare him for another year and then that trio with Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss. Remember the sirens scene?
For the 10th Anniversary Deluxe edition Producer T-Bone Burnett and Universal have allowed us a twelve track sneak preview of what might have been. No different takes or remixes in evidence here. Some of classic songs like ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ are there performed by different singers and bands. There are also a handful of songs that never made it to the film or the equally incredible ‘Down From the Mountain’ concert. Standouts include Ed Lewis and The Prisoners singing ‘Tom Devil’ and Robert Hamlett (Fairfield Four) collaborating with The Peasall sisters on a small but perfectly performed fifty three second snippet of Angel Band.
I should have been honest from the outset. This wasn’t really a review. It was really a thinly disguised rant on why you need to buy this album. What more can be said about an album that’s already won three Grammy’s, is the number one selling soundtrack of the 21st Century (and in the top 10 of all time. Pause and put that into perspective for a moment we’re talking Ennio Morricone and John Williams territory here) and is the 17th highest selling album of the 21st century. If you’ve never owned it or, like me it’s constantly being stolen, just go and buy it. It will change your life.
PS: It’s not standard procedure to add postscripts to reviews but when looking for my current copy of this album I found the box minus the tray card and CDs. Asked one of my mates who had a copy. His copy is missing too!
I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow – The Soggy Bottom Boys
In The Jailhouse Now – Harley Allen
Keep On The Sunny Side – The Cox Family
The Lord Will Make A Way – Fairfield Four