The Essential Louvin Brothers 1955-1964: My Baby's Gone CD
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Charlie & Ira Louvin were the link between earlier duos such as The Delmores, The Monroes and The Blue Sky Boys, and emerging pop/rock sensations The Everly Brothers. They preserved old time country flavour with the newer sounds of the 1950s. Their sublime harmonies and hard-driving take on traditional country provided the blueprint for many generations of country and rock musicians that continues to this day. From the enigmatic Gram Parsons ("The Christian Life", "Cash On The Barrelhead") and his protégé Emmylou Harris ("If I Could Only Win Your Love") to a long list of contemporary adherents, the legend of the Louvins continues unabated. This 30 track compilation concentrates on their essential recordings for Capitol and includes all of their US chart hits and many other important songs.
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Raven have provided here 30 tracks, and it is a fine disc, not that there isn't competition for the best one disc overview, but this is the latest, and it is very good indeed.
The tracks cannot but help falling into a greatest hits sequence, but do listen carefully and you will hear in some of the older tracks like Katy Dear and Knoxville Girl the old mountain music that derives from Anglo-Irish folk music export to the Appalachians and Ozarks. You will also hear in tracks like I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby, the duo singing parts and harmonising on the chorus, punctuating with their instrumental runs. Ira played the mandolin, Charlie the guitar.
Whilst they played old songs from their childhood, their strength was their ability to write and perform original material like When I Stop Dreaming, that sounds timeless and enables them to sing impeccable harmony. Another important element of their music was sacred material, which reflects both the tastes of their rural audience and their own beliefs, although Ira probably stretched his a little towards the end.
And end it did, in 1964 when Ira quit and within a year was dead in a car crash.Charlie survives, still records, but nothing ever will take the place of these great, great recordings. Treasure them, we won't see the like of the Louvins again.
If you really get a taste, invest in the Bear Family Box, 9 CDs of the most wonderful music, with a book that tells the story and provides pictures of those magical times when talent took you to Nashville.
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As for those still here, this album is simply incredible. I purchased it on a whim, as I love to explore all forms of American music, and somehow the Louvin Brothers have eluded me for many years, although I have been peripherally aware of them for some time now.
I guess the recent passing of Charlie Louvin finally caught my attention enough to seek out their music, and boy, am I glad I did. This album is truly essential for anyone that likes harmony vocals, good bluegrass, gospel, murder ballads, upbeat funny songs, and oh so much more.
One of my favorite Allison Kraus songs. I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby, is actually a cover of the Louvins original included herein. Also, when you listen to this music, you can't help but notice how many of the great harmonizers must have been influenced by these guys. Unfortunately, Ira Louvin died all too young, and the duo ceased to exist, although the late Charlie Louvin performed up until his recent passing.
This truly is an essential album, and thus deserves 5 stars.
PS: I think this book Satan Is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers combined with the CDs (Nearer My God to Thee and My Baby's Gone) makes a fairly complete package for any serious fan who might want to get into the nitty gritty behind the brothers.