Although he has often been labeled a blues artist, Lead Belly
had a much wider palette than that, and routinely sang spirituals, work songs, folk ballads, and children's pieces, and he had an amazing affinity for material that would later find its way into the pop world. Songs like "Goodnight Irene," "Midnight Special," "Gallows Pole," "Rock Island Line," "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," and "Black Betty," whether he actually wrote them or simply adapted them (which is probably the case), have all had an enduring musical impact, to say nothing of his driving 12-string guitar style, which wasn't exactly pretty but sure was effective. This three-disc set is a wonderful introduction to Lead Belly's legacy. It doesn't include his later Folkways recordings, but does have a wide sampling of his ARC tracks and several live cuts from various concerts along with multiple takes of "Midnight Special" and "Rock Island Line," plus fine performances of "Grasshopper in My Pillow," "Alberta," "Fannin' Street," "Bourgeois Blues," and "Ain't Going Down to the Well No More."