If Alan Lomax made field recordings on another planet, it might sound something like the new Clothesline Revival album, The Greatest Show on Mars.
“Oh, won’t you steal up young lady, oh, happy land,” sings a voice that probably sounds familiar to those who know Lomax’s “Southern Journey” recordings from the late ’50s and early ’60s. It’s Bessie Jones from the Georgia Sea Islands Singers, one of Lomax’s greatest discoveries (who I think should have become as big as Leadbelly), singing a children’s game song. There’s some crazy percussion behind her and what sounds like some electronic bass lines. But Jones keeps singing, and a dobro or slide guitar comes in. The percussion gets louder. It’s irresistible, and “O Happy Land” is only the first song on the album.