Merle Travis

Merle Travis 1944-49

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A dazzling collection of 22 radio recordings by Travis, some solo and some done backed up by the likes of Johnny Bond, done for such shows as Hollywood Barn Dance, The Melody Roundup and Dinner Bell Roundup, The Grand Ole Opry, The Country Barn Dance, and The Cliffie Stone Western Party. The earliest of these sides date from immediately after Travis' 1944 discharge from the Marine Corps, and show him establishing himself in Los Angeles in association with producer/emcee Cliffie Stone, who later brought Travis to Capitol Records. The later stuff, from 1946 on, overlaps with Travis' early period at Capitol, including things like his Grand Ole Opry performance of "John Henry," which he had also cut for Folksongs of the Hills. Travis preferred the radio performances to his studio recordings because of radio's less-formal requirements and easier-going approach to music-making, which allowed him to improvise as he pleased within the time available -- you could joke around on radio in ways that no one was allowed to in the studio. Among the notable songs is Travis' cover of "Old Rattler," a dog song that he learned from Grandpa Jones during their period playing together in the Brown's Ferry Four; his cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "T for Texas"; and "Roll on Mississippi," an old Boswell Sisters harmony number played by Travis in a subordinate position to Johnny Bond. Some of the stuff is very short, but all of it is worth hearing and owning by anyone who presumes to like Travis. The sound quality is uniformly good, and the notes are excellent.