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Prison Worksongs

Various Artists
Prison Worksongs

In the late 1950s, ethnomusicologist professor Dr. Harry Oster made a series of field recordings at state penitentiaries in Louisiana. This collection focuses on the type of prison work songs sung by inmates performing physically demanding labor. Of note is a version of the African American ballad “John Henry” sung by a trio with Robert Pete Williams and two songs sung by Odea Matthews, a female inmate at the state penitentiary in Angola. The liner notes are written by Dr. Oster.

Track Listing

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101
Berta Big Louisiana (Rodney Mason), Rev. Rogers, & Roosevelt Charles 3:51
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102
Take This Hammer Guitar Welch, Hogman Maxey, & Andy Mosely 3:27
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103
Stewball Rev. Rogers, Big Louisiana, & Jose Smith 2:25
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104
Five Long Years for One Man Odea Mathews 1:29
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105
Alberta Let Your Bangs Grow Long Guitar Welch, Hogman Maxey, & Andy Mosely 3:28
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106
I Had Five Long Years James Russell 2:16
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107
Early in the Mornin' Johnny Butler 5:28
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108
All Teamed Up in Angola's Mule Lot Roosevelt Charles, Arthur Davis, & Big Louisiana 3:32
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109
I Got a Hurtin' in My Right Side Willy Rafus and Work Gang 2:13
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110
Let Your Hammer Ring Big Louisiana, Willy Rafus, & Arthur Davis 7:20
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111
Cleaning This Highway Willy Rafus, Andy Mosely, & Johnny Butler 3:58
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112
John Henry Guitar Welch, Hogman Maxey, & Robert Pete Williams 2:42
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113
Something Within Me Odea Mathews 2:38
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114
Jesus Cares Murray Macon 1:55
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115
Working on the Levee Pt.1 (Good Morning Captain) Emanuel Dunn 9:37
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116
Working on the Levee Pt.2 Emanuel Dunn 3:53
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117
Take This Hammer Big Louisiana 5:27
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118
Pickin' Cotton All Day Long Creola And Ceola Smith 1:35
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119
My Mule Grey (A Plowing Song) Emanuel Dunn 5:18
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