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Classic Years of Merle Travis

Merle Travis

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Album Review

Rhino's The Best of Merle Travis may contain all of his big chart hits, but it's a misleading collection. Instead of focusing on Travis' revolutionary playing, the set runs through his hits and novelty songs, which all emphasize his vocals. Therefore, it isn't quite as comprehensive — or essential — as it initially appears. The album hints at his greatness, but never shows why Travis' playing was so groundbreaking.

Biography

Born: 29 November 1917 in Rosewood, KY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Merle Travis was virtually without peer as a guitarist and songwriter. A unique stylist, he was respected and prominent enough to have an instrumental style ("Travis picking") named after him, and only Chet Atkins even comes close to the influence that Travis had on the way the guitar is understood and played in country music. (Indeed, Atkins was initially signed to RCA to be that label's Merle Travis.) As a songwriter, he wasn't far behind, with originals such as "Sixteen Tons" crossing over as...
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Classic Years of Merle Travis, Merle Travis
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