Karl & Harty

Memories of the WLS Barn Dance

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Karl & Harty -- Karl Davis and Harty Taylor -- left their mark on country music even if few people today are aware of it. A few of the songs they wrote became country standards, and the Blue Sky Boys heavily incorporated Karl & Harty tunes into their act. "Gospel Cannon Ball," "I'm Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail," and "Kentucky" (recorded by the Louvin Brothers and many others) all originated with Karl & Harty. Memories of the WLS National Barn Dance Days is a 26-track CD that compiles a selection of Karl & Harty's Conqueror, Vocalion, Columbia, and Capitol label recordings from 1934-1947. The selections encompass a diverse group of songs, all of which are mastered from commercial 78s with good but not exceptional results. The duo sound like an early version of Homer & Jethro on their humorous and double-entendre songs like "Some Girls Do and Some Girls Don't." "Mercy on Your Soul" tells practically the same story as the better-known "Wreck on the Highway" (not included), and "When the Atom Bomb Fell" offers an unflinching description and endorsement of the bombing of Japan. Karl & Harty also sang a good number of songs about beer drinking, putting them at the forefront of country music's burgeoning honky tonk style. The anthology's one major flaw is that it does not include the duo's original recording of "Kentucky." The Blue Sky Boys adopted Karl & Harty's guitar and mandolin format and greatly improved upon their rough harmonies, but Karl & Harty's original recordings are enjoyable and historically significant.