STYLE: Country RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 177303-28766 LABEL: Not Now Music NOT2CD280 FORMAT: CD Album
Reviewed by Lins Honeyman
Formed in 1927 in Southwest Virginia, the Carter Family - then consisting of husband and wife AP and Sara Carter and the latter's cousin Maybelle - are widely recognised as being one of the first groups to make it big on the then formative country and western scene. This budget-line two disc anthology was released in 2008 but you'll still find it in many a record store and website. 'Wildwood Flower' charts the Carters' early years with recordings dating from the trio's inception right through to 1941 with a range of sub genres being covered within this compilation's 50 songs. For instance, murder ballads and cowboy songs sit next to hillbilly numbers whilst a hefty dose of gospel-related tunes including "River Of Jordan", "On The Rock Where Moses Stood" and "No Telephone In Heaven" are of particular interest. Whilst the sound of this early version of the Carter Family stays pretty much the same throughout the 14 years covered here, AP and Sara offer up classic Appalachian vocal performances whilst Maybelle's tendency to pick out the melody on the bass notes of her acoustic guitar would go on to surreptitiously influence the many rockabilly guitarists who would follow a couple of decades later. In addition, a number of tracks on this collection also form the bedrock of pop music with "Wabash Cannonball" becoming a skiffle standard, the barely-recognisable "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" becoming a celebrated Elvis song and the Clapton reading of "Motherless Children" from his seminal '461 Ocean Boulevard' album having obvious roots in the Carter version. A reshaped Carter Family would go on to gain more recognition following the divorce and departure of AP and Sara, with Maybelle's three daughters (amongst them the future Mrs Johnny Cash, June Carter) joining the ranks but this progenitor version deserves to be celebrated for starting it all off - not forgetting Ralph Peer of the Victor record label for being the first to capture this hugely influential group on record.
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