Tangle Eye Voices From the Past, Grooves for the Present

There's an old legend that the Ledbetters weren't fond of the Lomax's. But no matter what you think about Alan Lomax's field recordings (that often reproduced the artist singing at the wrong speed) his place in American folk music is one step away from prime mover to many. Now it's Mr. Lomax's turn to have his music plundered, as Tangle Eye give it the remix treatment. Remixers Scott Billington and Steve Reynolds thankfully do far more than simply stick a drum machine under someone else's track and call it a club version. "John Henry's Blues" for instance, uses a vocal sample by Ed Lewis, a convict at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, and gives it a sparse jazz/funk accompaniment with Rhodes organ, piano and drums. The song never looses sight of its original mandate — to support Lomax's subject — and this renders it an immediately successful interpretation. "O Death" has an eerie fiddle line, courtesy of Dirk Powell, that drives the song so well the backing drummer almost seems like an afterthought. The Bright Light Quartet get one of the most complete makeovers with their song "Chantey." The group of fisherman take their catch to Caribbean waters with the help of Marley's "One Love"-style treatment and disintegration into sharky dub territory. "Rosie," as well, is morphed from a shouter’s gospel blues into a steady slide riff John Spencer might have dreamed up. Elsewhere Tangle Eye use a New Orleans brass band, Meters bassist George Porter Jr and bluesman Corey Harris, among others, to reinterpret these often forgotten examples of Americana. Ultimately though this remix job brings more to light than a few obscure artists. It is doubtful the original musicians ever saw a cent from the good white folks that recorded them either in the last century or the remixers that used them in this one. (Zoë)