Q (8/95, p.145) - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...remains the most significant album of the early '60s American white blues boom....The instrumental interplay between Koerner and Ray's acoustic guitars and Glover's harmonica is never less than engrossing and often exhilarating..."
Down Beat (p.73) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "In concert segments and interviews, the three musicians reveal themselves to be free spirits hip to the zeitgeist of the time."
Down Beat (1/96, p.49) - 4.5 Stars - Good/Very Good - "...[Koerner and Ray] are gifted acoustic guitarists, creating an imposing lattice of embroidered scales and bends, and they bring personality and emotional honesty to their singing. Tony `Little Son' Glover informs his vocal and harmonica playing with a rare intelligence....fresh and vibrant music..."
Living Blues (5-6/99, p.103) - "...The depth of country blues knowledge, feeling, and expression displayed by these young white Northerners is startling, surpassing much of the work of today's acoustic revivalists..."
Sing Out! (8-10/95, p.139) - "...[Koerner, Ray & Glover] are remarkable in the instrumental and vocal skills they brought to a traditional music form that was not of their own culture, but which they had already made their own..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.67) - "[They] injected punk-style vim and humour into covering heroes Leadbelly and Sleepy John Estes, while firing up their own spirited homages."
This reissue of BLUES, RAGS & HOLLERS contains all of the original issue's tracks (4 of which were left off the prior Elektra reissue) and has been restored to its original stereo from the original masters.
Personnel: "Spider" John Koerner (vocals, 7-string guitar, harmonica); Dave "Snaker" Ray (vocals, 12-string guitar); Tony "Little Sun" Glover (vocals, harmonica).
Reissue producer: Eric Bain Peltoniemi.
Recorded at the Woman's Club, Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 24, 1963. Originally released on Audiophile (78). Includes liner notes by Tony Glover.
Personnel: Dave "Snaker" Ray (vocals, guitar, 12-string guitar); Dave Ray & Tony Glover (vocals, guitar, harmonica); "Spider" John Koerner (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Tony Glover (vocals, harmonica).
Liner Note Author: Tony Glover.
Recording information: Women's Club, Milwaukee, WI (1963).
Arrangers: Dave "Snaker" Ray; "Spider" John Koerner; Tony Glover.
When Elektra Records decided to reissue Koerner, Ray & Glover's debut album, Blues, Rags & Hollers, a mere five months after it had first appeared -- in a pressing of only 300 copies -- on Audiophile Records, there were technical problems. The 20-track Audiophile LP ran nearly 52 minutes and, as Tony "Little Sun" Glover later put it in his liner notes to the 1995 CD reissue, the tracks "filled the vinyl, right up to the label. (Some people's turntables rejected part-way through the last tune on a side.)" Further, Elektra "didn't like the wide stereo spread, so they wanted to put it out in mono." (That would affect the width of the grooves and thus also improve the playability of the LP.) As a result, the trio was asked to delete two songs from each side of the disc for the reissue. They decided to lose "Spider" John Koerner's "Ted Mack Rag" and "Too Bad," Dave "Snaker" Ray's version of Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom," and the concluding track, a trio version of Leadbelly's "Mumblin' Word." That still left 16 tracks and nearly 42 minutes of what constituted one of the defining albums of the folk revival. The Minneapolis, MN, trio, with Koerner and Ray on guitar and vocals, plus Glover on harmonica and vocals, were the quintessential young, white collegiate folk-blues enthusiasts from the North striving to play the traditional music as if they were old, black, uneducated musicians from the South. The thing was, they succeeded, not only in re-creating the sound of Leadbelly and Sleepy John Estes, among others, but also in writing their own original songs that sounded authentic. This was the essence of the folk revival at the time, an homage to what went before that paid tribute through sincere imitation, attempting to preserve a tradition and extend it into the future. The three musicians actually didn't play together throughout the record, only appearing as a trio on the opening song, "Linin' Track." In between, Koerner had six solo performances, Ray had five, Glover had one, and there were two duets between Ray and Glover and one between Koerner and Glover (plus a lot of sympathetic foot-tapping). This version was the only one available for the next three decades, but in 1995 Red House Records licensed the album from Elektra and released it on CD in its original stereo, 20-track form. ~ William Ruhlmann
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