For a long time, Roy Acuff was poorly represented on CD but this box released in 2004 finally provided us with what his fans wanted - the complete recordings from his early years. Everything here is presented in nearly chronological order beginning with Great speckled bird from 1937 and ending with It's all right now in 1950. Two 1936 tracks appear as tracks 3 and 4 on CD 1 to disturb the chronological sequence slightly. Within this box, you can find all of Roy's famous tracks from the years when he was at the peak of his popularity. The box includes an extensive booklet that tells you, among other things, how Bashful Brother Oswold got his name; his real name is Beecher Kirby, though he prefers to be known as Pete.
Of course, Roy maintained a successful career for the rest of his life and even wrote a few great songs in later years, most notably Blue eyes crying in the rain, the song with which Willie Nelson revitalized his career in the late seventies. Following the success of that song, interest in Roy's own music increased for a while and he had some success with his own music on the country charts. Aside from Blue eyes crying in the rain and the hits that followed, every Roy Acuff song that really matters can be found here, and then some.
Roy recorded several train songs during this period. It is particularly interesting to note that the original 1936 versions of two of them (Wabash cannonball, Freight train blues) featured band member Sam Hatcher as the singer. Roy re-recorded them with his own vocals in 1947. You'll find both versions in this box. Other train songs to be found here are Streamlined cannonball, Fireball mail, Night train to Memphis, Tennessee central #9 and Midnight train. Roy also sang about other forms of transport as you can hear on Steamboat whistle blues, Autombile of life and Wreck on the highway.
Roy sang plenty of songs about love and heartache including Blue ridge sweetheart, Broken heart, Be honest with me, I know you're saying goodbye, Lying woman blues and You are my love, but he seemed to have a fascination with eyes, writing and singing Bonnie blue eyes, Answer to sparkling eyes, Beautiful brown eyes and Eyes watching you. Roy alkso recorded several gospel songs. Apart from Great speckled bird, they include Will the circle be unbroken, Drifting too far from the shore, When I lay my burden down, Waiting for the call to glory and Jesus died for me. Roy was not afraid to comment on social issues when he felt strongly, as in Old age pension cheque.
Among the classic songs that I haven't mentioned so far are Precious jewel, Prodigal son, Pins and needles, Our own Jole Blon and I'll forgive but I can't forget. If you like country music at its most traditional, you'll love Roy Acuff - and this is by far the best compilation out there.