When it comes to great and hugely influential old country (and gospel) harmony singing acts Charlie and Ira Louvin are optimy of the words; great, awesome and sublime when it comes to describing their talent. As for the four albums (1956 – 1960) found here on this twin-cd package the material, songs and music could hardly be better!
With Ira on mandolin and singing lead and Charlie on guitar and the purveyor of flawless harmony vocals the collection opens with ‘Kentucky’ followed by Carter Stanley’s ‘I’ll be All Smiles Tonight’ and shortly after ‘Alabama’. That they wrote in homage to their home state as the benchmark is set. One that I hasten to add is met on countless occasions as the likes of the tragic ‘Katie Dear’ (Bolick), traditional favourite ‘Knoxville Girl’ and their hits ‘My Baby’s Gone’ and ‘You’re Running Wild’ plus the wonderfully uplifting gospel pieces ‘There’s A Higher Power’, ‘The River Of Jordan’ (arguably the duo’s finest work highlighted by a set of vocal exchanges, mesmerising!) and, their fabulous compositions ‘Christian Life’, ‘The Angels Rejoiced Last Night’ and playful country ode ‘Plenty Of Everything But You’ figure. While to top it all off not only is there Ira’s Bill Monroe-inspired mandolin but the session men’s work is just great too.
Their great songs have long since become the fabric of the music performed by the likes of Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller (‘There’s A Higher Power’), Gram Parsons, Ricky Skaggs Gail Davies and The Wilburn Brothers. All gained much impetus from the music of the duo, while The Byrds featuring Parsons included ‘Christian Life’ on their famed country rock album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo album. Like Ira and Charlie it could and righty so claim in doing so they were ahead of their time! File under essential listening.
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