Musical Heritage Of The Carter Fa CD (2004)

Artist: Unbroken Circle

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Fine collection drawn from Carter Family songbook

by on 9/25/2004

The greatest of American songbooks gets another run-through from a variety of country music luminaries, and the results, unsurprisingly, are very good. In addition to four Cashes (Johnny, June Carter, Roseanne and producer John Carter), the album sports tracks from George Jones, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Ricky Skaggs, and many others. Like most such collections, it's not uniformly fine (nor, even in its fineness, uniform in how it achieves its quality), but there's a lot of great music here. ¶ Jones kicks off the album with a wonderfully loose take of "Worried Man Blues," buoyed by a deft, bluesy combination of guitars, bass, fiddle and drums. Sheryl Crow follows with over-the-top yowling on "No Depression in Heaven," and Emmylou Harris warbles somewhat unsteadily with the charming Peasall Sisters for "On the Sea of Galilee." From here, the album picks up with Johnny Cash's nearly-spent reading of "Engine One-Forty-Three" and really hits its stride with Marty Stuart's creepy march-time arrangement of "Never Let the Devil Get the Upper Hand on You." ¶ Additional highlights include Norman and Nancy Blake's string-rich (guitar, cello, bouzouki, fiddle, autoharp) "Black Jack David," John Prine's acoustic rockabilly "Bear Creek Blues," The Whites' (with Ricky Skaggs) "Will My Mother Know Me There," and Roseanne Cash's "The Winding Stream." Kris Kristofferson and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's close the album with "Gold Watch and Chain," successfully pitting the former's craggy voice against the latter's polished acoustic picking and smooth harmonies. ¶ These aren't definitive renditions (for that, original Carter Family recordings can be found), but like the Dirt Band's "Circle" albums, the reinvention and handing-down found among and between these generations say as much about the music as the songs themselves. Read More

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Product Overview


Label Dualtone
SKU 61702582
UPC 803020116221
UPC 14 00803020116221
Format CD
Release Date 8/24/2004
Author Unbroken Circle
Technical Info
Engineer Chuck Turner
Producer John Carter Cash; Sheryl Crow
CatalogID 01162
Lable Name Dualtone Music
Released 08/24/2004
Original Release 2004
Number of Discs 1
SPARE Code n/a
Mono/Stereo Stereo
Studio/Live Studio
UPC 00803020116221
Album Notes and Credits
Tributee: The Carter Family.
Liner Note Author: John Carter Cash.
Country musicians, be they alternative, traditional, or neo-traditionalist, never tire of singing praises to the Carter Family. Heck, even the occasional rocker will say a few kind words about the Carter legacy. With this type of enthusiasm, there's never a bad time to put together a tribute album like The Unbroken Circle. The album is packed with VIPs like Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Sheryl Crow, and Willie Nelson, and it even includes no less than three Cashes (Johnny, June Carter, and Rosanne). Despite this impressive list, The Unbroken Circle gets a very rocky start with lukewarm efforts by Jones, Crow, Harris, and Johnny Cash. Jones and Cash sound fairly rough, and Harris' outing, backed by the Peasall Sisters, is underwhelming. Crow's appearance on a country record is somewhat surprising, and perhaps it was meant to add a little pizzazz to the disc. Unfortunately, she sings "No Depression in Heaven" as though she were auditioning for Freakwater. While the album never quite recovers from this early stumble, there are bright spots after those first four songs. Marty Stuart offers a truly superb version of "Never Let the Devil Get the Upper Hand of You," filled with creepy ambience and a fine vocal, while Janette and Joe Carter's take on "Little Moses" sounds more old-time than the Carter Family. There are solid offerings by Nelson, John Prine, and the Del McCoury Band before everything comes to a crash landing with the less polished contributions of June Carter Cash and Kris Kristofferson. While fans of the artists on this compilation may want to check it out, there are better Carter Family collections (Bristol by Ginny Hawker and Kay Justice and Songs of the Carter Family by Jody Stecher and Kate Brislin), and there's always the option of listening to the Carter Family themselves. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford Jr.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (p.98) - 3 stars out of 5 - "Instead of putting their own egoistic stamp on the music, all the artists let the elemental power of the songs take charge."
Uncut (p.110) - 5 stars out of 5 - "[T]he finest moments come from unexpected quarters....If you've only room for one country compilation this year, look no further."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.102) - 4 stars out of 5 - "The most moving moments come from family members..."
Disc 1
1 Worried Man Blues - George Jones
2 No Depression In Heaven - Sheryl Crow
3 On The Sea Of Galilee - Emmylou Harris/The Peasall Sisters
4 Engine One-Forty-Three - Johnny Cash
5 Never Let the Devil Get the Upper Hand of You - Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives
6 Little Moses - Joe & Janette Carter
7 Black Jack David - Norman & Nancy Blake/Tim O'Brien
8 Bear Creek Blues - John Prine
9 You Are My Flower - Willie Nelson
10 Single Girl, Married Girl - Shawn Colvin/Earl Scruggs/Randy Scruggs
11 Will My Mother Know Me There? - The Whites/Ricky Skaggs
12 Winding Stream, The - Rosanne Cash
13 Rambling Boy - The Del McCoury Band
14 Hold Fast To The Right - June Carter Cash
15 Gold Watch and Chain - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band/Kris Kristofferson
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Fine collection drawn from Carter Family songbook by on Sep 25, 2004