The cover is worth the sticker price alone. Truely, one of the great album covers of all time. As the liner notes will attest, the Louvins concieved & built it themselves, risking serious injury when the kerosene coated rocks began to explode behind them. Prophetic as that sounds, if this record were a book, you could judge it by the cover. The contents are truely as haunting, campy, beautiful & passionate as that manic expression on Brother Ira's face.
Sinners be warned, this is Gospel music. So yes, there is that cloying, BE SAVED OR DAMNED message behind it all. But these passive-agressive tactics are undermined by the Louvin's bittersweet sound. These guys sing like hell bent angels, clinging desperately to the darkest, lonely cloud in Heaven's outlands. Behind the unintentional camp of self penned ditties like, "Satan Is Real" is a deep rooted cry for mercy. The barnstorming glee of "There's A Higher Power" follows & is as infectious as Hank Williams' classic, "I Saw The Light".
Much has been said of this albums' influence on the late, Gram Parsons. His faithful rendition of "The Christian Life" is an obvious example. But I can't help but wonder what the Louvin's thought of the likes of GILDED PALACE OF SIN. Their sacred sound is all over it. So if you're a Burritos/Parsons fan---this is indispensible.
My personal favorite is "He Can Be Found". Not only does it represent this duo at their subtle best, but when each brother takes their solo, it's likely to stop you in your tracks. It's the waving grass over the fire & brimstone of "Satan's Jeweled Crown" & "Drunkard's Doom". Another standout is, "Are You Afraid To Die" which is as raw & honest as popular music gets in any genre.
Since hearing this, I've sought out a few other Louvin Bros. albums, but keep coming back to this one. Without a doubt SATAN IS REAL is their masterpiece. Brush your religious prejudices aside & dig down deep into the grave of this one. You're certain to be rewarded.