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Songs of the Smoky Mountains [1955]
     

Songs of the Smoky Mountains [1955]

by Roy Acuff
 
Re-recordings of an artist's classic songs rarely pack the punch of the originals, but Roy Acuff managed that neat trick on 1955's Songs of the Smoky Mountains, reissued in 1966 as The Best of Roy Acuff -- and released once again in 2002 as Songs of the Smoky Mountains. On these cuts (many of them reprises of his groundbreaking sides for OKeh and

Overview

Re-recordings of an artist's classic songs rarely pack the punch of the originals, but Roy Acuff managed that neat trick on 1955's Songs of the Smoky Mountains, reissued in 1966 as The Best of Roy Acuff -- and released once again in 2002 as Songs of the Smoky Mountains. On these cuts (many of them reprises of his groundbreaking sides for OKeh and Columbia in the '30s and '40s), Acuff had two things going for him: a passionate and talented band, the Smoky Mountain Boys, and his own demanding work ethic. Certainly, the original versions of "The Great Speckled Bird" and "Wabash Cannonball" are country music essentials, but the new interpretations here are gripping, even transporting, in their own right. Acuff gives a gut-wrenching reading of Dorsey Dixon's powerful death ballad, "Wreck on the Highway," that brooks comparison with Ralph Stanley's monumental performance of "O Death" (from O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Elsewhere, he anguishes over lost love ("Pins and Needles (In My Heart)," recounts the final days in the vivid sung/spoken verses of "The Great Judgment Morning," and, on a lighter note, celebrates with the ebullient hoedown "Night Train to Memphis," which backs a spirited, driving vocal with a cheering background chorus, brisk fiddle solos, and buoyant rinky-tink piano solos. These re-recordings stand tall alongside the originals, assuring Songs of the Smoky Mountains a prominent place in this country music giant's estimable catalogue.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Greg Adams
Songs of the Smokey Mountains was the sole LP released by Capitol during Acuff's stay with the label in the mid-'50s. It contains remakes of his classics from the late '30s and early '40s, recorded in three sessions in 1954-1955. The original versions are definitive, of course, but it is interesting to hear Acuff reprise these songs under more modern recording conditions. His performances are generally slower but strong, and faithful to the originals. The practice of artists remaking their hits after changing labels so that their new label can offer a sometimes-deceptive "greatest hits" package seldom yields anything of great interest. Acuff's most dedicated fans will enjoy comparing these versions to the originals, and very casual listeners may be content with high fidelity re-recordings, but buyers should know what they're getting. The CD reissue on Dualtone is faithful to the original LP (except for the addition of new notes), but all of the tracks are duplicated on Bear Family's superior two-CD set, The King of Country Music.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/05/2002
Label:
Dualtone Music Group
UPC:
0803020110625
catalogNumber:
1106

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