Roy Acuff

King of Country Music: All Time Greatest Hits

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This 1962 album is also sometimes known by the title "All Time Greatest Hits," which also appears on the front LP sleeve, though the lettering on "King of Country Music" on that same LP sleeve is bigger. It has a dozen early-'60s re-recordings of songs Acuff first recorded in the 1930s and 1940s, including tunes that are about as well-known as any in country music ("The Great Speckled Bird" and "Wabash Cannonball"), as well as lesser-traveled items like "The Old Age Pension Check." Re-recordings of familiar hits are always a dicey proposition, and from a purely historical point of view, the original versions of these are a better place to start to get an appreciation of Acuff's impact on country music in his early career. To its credit, though, these remakes don't suffer from any unnecessary contemporary studio gloss, which is probably the single biggest problem on projects of this kind. It's just straight, well-played, no-frills hillbilly, albeit with recording technology allowing greater clarity than the equipment of the 1930s and 1940s had. Acuff's vocals are good, strong, and committed as well, with a lonesome, at times soaring tower-of-strength quality that few others pulled off so well. King of Country Music was combined with another of Acuff's early-'60s Hickory LPs, Once More It's Roy Acuff, on a single-CD reissue on Ace in 2003.

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