Q, May 09
When it comes to country music, in its various shames and guises, all roads lead back to The Carter Family. Between 1927 and 1941, AP (Alvin Pleasant) Carter, his wife Sara and sister-in-law Maybelle recorded close to 300 songs whose influence – the trio’s harmonies and Maybelle’s thub-driven guitar-playing, especially – continues to be felt to this day. Backing that up is this 50-track compilation, including such signature items as Wildwood Flower, Can The Circle Be Unbroken?, Wabash Cannonball and Worried Man Blues. More detailed sleevenotes would have been handy, but at the price a fine introduction to their arcane world.
Record Collector, May 09
Family values give country music its good name
Anyone who saw the recent American Folk trilogy of programmes was in for a treat: a magnificent journey through the heartland of American traditional music in the 20th Century, awash with interviews, archive clips and an engaging narrative. All of which wont hurt this 50-track roundup of music from folk/country royalty The Carter Family. Their all-pervasive influence has been felt via everyone from The Everly Brothers and Bob Dylan to Steve Earle and Alison Krauss.
In a nutshell, during their purple patch in the late 20s and early 30s, AP Carter (accompanied by wife Sara and sister-in-law Maybelle) wrote or adapted songs which all but defined the emergent folk style, such as Wabash Cannonball, Wildwood Flower, Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Keep On The Sunny Side. Where other acts were content to simply keep old songs alive, The Carter Family took music to a new place during a boom in the embryonic recording industry, which saw the yet-to-be-named folk genre enjoy a brief spell of popularity. The trio continued till the early 40s, whereupon the family tradition was passed onto a new generation, leaving behind a musical legacy which all but defines the spirit of American folk and its evolution into country.