Album Details

April 01, 2008
Country, Old-Timey, Traditional Country, Appalachian, String Bands, North American Traditions, Close Harmony

Album Review

While they may not have been the most dynamic of the Appalachian string bands of the early '20s, the Carter Family was certainly the most subtly innovative, beginning with Maybelle Carter's bass string-heavy guitar playing. Combined with A.P. Carter's knack for spotting a good song and the trio's clear, haunting vocal style, the music they made has given them a secure spot as country's first big stars. More importantly, A.P.'s collection of Appalachian folk songs (although he is listed as the composer of many of them, he simply collected and refined them) has given American country music a solid historical base and he undoubtedly saved countless songs from oblivion (songs like "Coal Miner's Blues," "No Depression," "Engine 143," and "The Little Black Train" can have their survival into the 21st century traced to the versions that the Carter Family recorded). The Carter Family's recording career officially ended on October 14, 1941 when the original line up of A.P., Sara, and Maybelle did a final session for Victor Records, but it wasn't really the end of the story. Sometime preacher and borderline con man Clifford Spurlock approached A.P. a dozen or so years later about reuniting the trio for a series of recordings for his Acme Record Company. Maybelle had established herself as an artist in her own right by this time, so A.P. took Sara and their children Janette and Joe Carter into the studio for sessions in 1952 and then again four years later in 1956, essentially tracking do-overs of previous Carter Family songs like "Keep on the Sunny Side," "Wildwood Flower," and "Wabash Cannonball" along with several religious and sacred titles and the occasional new song. Most of these "comeback" recordings were either never officially released or were distributed poorly and this two-disc, 58-track set is the first time they've all been compiled and assembled together. There's nothing startling here (unless you count the corny and intrusive train sound effects that someone thought would be a good idea to add to "Wabash Cannonball"), and while "new" songs like the "Railroading on the Great Divide" and "The Titanic" are minor treasures, these Acme sessions function more as an addendum to the earlier Victor material rather than as any kind of major restatement of the basic template. That said, collectors will love this set, and if the Carter Family didn't exactly invent the wheel with these 1950s recordings, they didn't really have to, since they pretty much perfected the wheel thirty years earlier.
Steve Leggett, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Pretty Raindrops
  2. There's a Bright Side Somewhere
  3. Climbing Zion's Hill
  4. Longing for Home
  5. Railroading on the Great Divide
  6. Live on Down the Line
  7. No More Goodbyes (At Home with Our Saviour Above)
  8. On the Rock Where Moses Stood
  9. Storms Are on the Ocean
  10. Soldier's Beyond the Blue
  11. Sweet Fern
  12. Wildwood Flower
  13. Keep on the Sunny Side
  14. Sow 'Em on the Mountain
  15. I'll Be Satisfied
  16. Room in Heaven for Me
  17. Gently Lead Me
  18. Ship Ahoy
  19. Hill Lone and Grey
  20. Beautiful Isle O'er the Sea
  21. My Wildwood Rose
  22. The Titanic
  23. When the Sunset Turns the Ocean Blue to Gold
  24. I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
  25. Little Moses
  26. Western Hobo
  27. Beautiful Home
  28. I Shall Not Be Moved
  29. My Dixie Darling
  30. Wabash Cannonball
  31. Meeting in the Air
  32. Ship Ahoy
  33. Wade in the Water
  34. Jesus Hold My Hand
  35. Fate of George Allen on Engine 143
  36. Anchored in Love
  37. Curtains of Night
  38. Angel Band
  39. Redemption Song
  40. Gold Watch and Chain
  41. Worried Man Blues
  42. Wayworn Traveller
  43. Homestead on the Farm
  44. Grave on the Green Hillside
  45. Waves on the Sea
  46. Wildwood Flower
  47. Keep on the Sunny Side
  48. Motherless Children
  49. Two More Years (And I'll Be Free)
  50. Broken Engagement
  51. The Last Letter
  52. On the Sea of Galilee
  53. Mrs Jimmie Rodgers Visits the Carter Family, Pt. 1
  54. Mrs Jimmie Rodgers Visits the Carter Family, Pt. 2
  55. I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
  56. Midnight on the Stormy Deep
  57. Railroading on the Great Divide
  58. Wildwood Flower
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