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Various Artists

Always Lift Him Up a tribute to Blind Alfred Reed – 2007 (Proper)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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Blind Alfred Reed was a West Virginia musician/songwriter who died in the mid-1950's. Though not well-known today, his music was popular in his home state in the late '20s. This album is a tribute to Reed and his songs, all performed by fellow West Virginians. Featured performers include Ray Benson (of Asleep At The Wheel), Tim and Mollie O'Brien, Kathy Mattea, Larry Groce of Mountain Stage and Opry legends Connie Smith and Little Jimmy Dickens (inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2007). The album is worth a listen if only to hear new recordings by Dickens (though his "Women Been After Men Ever Since" clearly has an outdated point of view) and Smith (with husband, Marty Stuart and band backing her up). In addition, there are other fine performances from regional artists including Ann Magnuson, Bare Bones and Everett Lilly and the Songcatchers.

Reed's lyrics reflect the time that he lived, and provide an insight into the Depression and to a deeply religious community.

Though fellow musicians of his time and geographic region like the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers ended up with more acclaim, Blind Alfred Reed left behind a fairly substantial stable of songs as evidenced by the 19 here. The treatments of Reed's songs are mostly strong, though rootsy in some cases. They help paint a nice tribute to one of the early contributors to country music.