The Carter Family
Country Folk (Proper Records - Properbox 127 )
This is a 4 CD box set and with a retail price of £12 represents
excellent value. There are in total 103 tracks and it comes with a 44
page book giving masses of biographical details.
The original group consisted of Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter, (AP), who
played fiddle and sang bass, his wife Sara Dougherty Carter who played
autoharp and sang alto lead and Maybelle Addington Carter who played guitar
and sang harmony. Maybelle was married to AR's brother.
They operated out of their homes in Virginia until 1938, when they moved
to Texas for three years, and then to Charlotte, North Carolina. They
did their last radio show together in 1942. Maybelle Carter continued
the tradition with her three daughters, Anita, Helen, and June (who married
A. P, the family patriarch, collected hundreds of British/Appalachian
folk songs. Many of them they made their own and they started recording
in 1927. During the next 17 years they recorded some 300 old-time ballads,
traditional tunes, country songs, and Gospel hymns.
The Carter's were immersed in the tight harmonies of mountain gospel music
and shape note singing. Maybelle's distinctive and innovative guitar playing
style made "Carter-picking," the dominant technique for decades.
The songs were recorded during The Great Depression and reflect those
times. Many became classics -'Worried Man Blues," "Wabash Cannonball,"
"Will the Circle Be Unbroken," "Wildwood Flower,"
and "Keep on the Sunny Side." The performances were earnest
and serious - almost dour. Production values were much lower then and
it's amazing these recordings have been preserved so well.
Many of the songs have been reinterpreted. For instance Woody Guthrie
took the tune for 'This land is Your land'. They even predated Elvis's
'Are You Lonesome Tonight?'