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The Best of the Carter Family, Vol. 2

The Carter Family

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Album Review

While they may not have been the most dynamic of the Appalachian string bands of the early '20s, the Carter Family were certainly the most subtly innovative. Beginning with Maybelle Carter's bass string-heavy guitar playing, and combined with A.P. Carter's knack for spotting a good song (although he is listed as the composer of many of them, he simply collected traditional Appalachian songs and refined them) and the trio's clear, haunting vocal style, the music they made has given them a secure spot as country's first big stars. This collection, the second volume of Country Stars' two-disc series, features some of the best and most famous sides the Carters recorded for Victor Records, including "Wabash Cannonball," "Wildwood Flower," and "John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man" (quite likely the definite version of the song), making it the stronger of the two. The first volume does have "Keep on the Sunny Side," though, which is pretty much the Carter Family theme song.

Biography

Formed: 1926 in Virginia

Genre: Country

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s

The most influential group in country music history, the Carter Family switched the emphasis from hillbilly instrumentals to vocals, made scores of their songs part of the standard country music canon, and made a style of guitar playing, "Carter picking," the dominant technique for decades. Along with Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family were among the first country music stars. Comprised of a gaunt, shy gospel quartet member named Alvin P. Carter and two reserved country girls — his wife, Sara,...
Full bio

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