Skillet Lickers The Complete Recorded Works, Volume 3: 1925-1929
- Released: April 3, 2001
- Label: Document
- 2.A Day at the County Fair
- 3.Pretty Little Widow
- 4.Never Seen the Like Since Gettin' Upstairs
- 5.Show Me the Way to Go Home
- 6.Cotton Baggin'
- 7.Back up and Push
- 8.Smoke Behind the Clouds
- 9.The Rovin' Gambler
- 10.Going on Down Town
Full title: Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Vol. 3 (1925-1929).
The Skillet Lickers include: Gid Tanner (vocals, fiddle); Hugh Cross, Riley Puckett (guitar); Fate Norris (banjo); Clayton McMichen, Lowe Stokes (fiddle).
Although it's Gid Tanner's name in front of the band, the real star of the show in this period was guitarist and singer Riley Puckett. Within the framework of the string band, he was essentially playing a kind of proto-bluegrass guitar, adding curious little syncopations and bass runs to fill out the sound -- playing in a manner that was far ahead of its time. The Skillet Lickers were popular entertainers (as shown by the inclusion of tracks like "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'" and "Show Me the Way to Go Home," albeit with Tanner's inimitable comic touch), but they also had something extra that set them apart. Tanner himself made a funny frontman, but it was Clayton McMichen and Puckett who made them fly, sparking perfectly off each other; it's easy to see why they had a reputation as a powerful live act. Some of this is over the top, like both parts of "A Day at the County Fair," but in the main, it's absolutely irresistible, with the picking and fiddling of the highest quality. And when Tanner turns serious, lending a falsetto harmony to the songs, you can see how seminal the Skillet Lickers really were in the development of country music -- as it would become. Bear in mind that much of this was recorded before either the Carter Family or Jimmie Rodgers committed anything to disc, and the importance of this group is self-evident. Kudos to Document for assembling these sides. ~ Chris Nickson
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