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FIDDLIN' ARTHUR SMITH 'Give Me Old Time Music' BACM-215-CD

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Perhaps the most prominent country fiddler of the 1930s and early 40s, Arthur Smith recorded extensively for the Bluebird label, and most of his best recordings appear on a great County label release (COU-3526, $ 13.99). To the credit of England's BACM label, they have mostly avoided duplicating the County album, with the result that the performances and material here are generally not as strong --though there are some great pieces like SMITH'S BREAKDOWN, IT'S A WEARY WORLD, ACROSS THE BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS and GIVE ME OLD TIME MUSIC. Most of the 24 cuts here feature vocals rather than Smith's trademark fiddle tunes, but of added interest are some good pieces taken from rare McGregor radio transcriptions. As it turns out, Smith was the featured fiddler in Jimmy Wakely's Hollywood-based band at the time, and it is Wakely's group that backs him up on these 7 tracks, which include good versions of WALKING IN MY SLEEP, BEAUTIFUL BROWN EYES, CRAZY BLUES, WHY SHOULD I WONDER and IT'S HARD TO PLEASE YOUR MIND --plus a version of ORANGE BLOSSOM SPECIAL