Few records hit with the impact of the recordings of Harry Smith's Anthology. Released at a time when folk music was largely dominated by academics, and when copyright law was considerably less sophisticated, Smith's six-volume set was an authoritative, exceedingly quirky departure. His take on folk music didn't focus on exotic field recordings from faraway places buried in the Library of Congress archives. Instead, he culled Anthology from his own treasure trove of commercially released recordings, revealing folk music as a popular, not exotic, phenomenon. The three two-record sets gathered here as four CDs are loosely subdivided into the categories "Ballads," "Social Music," and "Songs." Some of the pieces are widely known today in one version or another -- "John Hardy," "John Henry," "Stackalee," "Frankie," and others -- as are some of the performers, including the Carter Family, Mississippi John Hurt, Dock Boggs, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Sleepy John Estes. The greater part of the artists and their songs, however, emerged from the shadows on Anthology. And there, hopefully, they shall remain, thanks to this brilliant and extensively annotated reissue of the set. Anthology also remains one of the most influential releases. The cornerstone of the folk revival of the '50s and '60s, it inspired performers like Bob Dylan and Dave Von Ronk, who knew its songs chapter and verse. Over and above that, it presented a vision of American music that had gone largely unheralded. Smith, an eccentric record collector, revealed the country's half-forgotten musical history to itself.