Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Louvin Brothers - The Christian Life - The Definitive Louvin Brothers Story

I first encountered the Louvin Brothers due to the incredibly kitchy album artwork for there record Satan Is Real. For the longest time I thought of them as simply a joke band but have since realized that they were a very serious and very popular country act with many hits to their names. This 4-CD set is a collection of tunes from the very beginning of their career all the way through to their breakup.

They started their recording work while still playing with singer/guitarist Eddie Hill, and while the brothers take center stage on the first numbers here, it is with Eddie & his band, that included none other than Chet Atkins on guitar! My favorite country music is where it shows its bluegrass roots and blends the wonderful bluegrass-styled harmonies and instruments (fiddle, mandolin, banjo) with a somewhat more modern sound, and that is what the brothers do here. The Louvins always took older tunes - some as far back as early British and Celtic songs - and made them their own. But even their original material had that "older" sound - something that I enjoy quite a bit.

The brothers' genetic harmonies, and their creative use of them, is one of their major calling cards, but instrumentally they were quite talented, as well, especially Ira on the mandolin. The learned their lessons from the older musician, from Roy Acuff to the Blue Sky Boys to Delmore Brothers and more and learned how to create their own sound. While they were known mostly as a gospel duo, they did quite a bit of secular music, as well, from the afore-mentioned "old-country" tunes, to songs of the day to r'n'r-styled numbers.

Many artists were highly influenced by the Louvins, from Johnny Cash to Emmylou Harris to Gram Parsons, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, James Taylor, Merle Haggard and many more. Their songs have been hits for many of these singers as well as lots of others throughout the decades. This set shows them in their strengths and weaknesses, but most of it is high quality. If you appreciate the roots of country & bluegrass, this is a fine collection.