Ernest Tubb

Walking the Floor Over You [Box Set]

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Okay, it's eight 70-minute-plus CDs and over $200 retail, and that would dissuade even loyal fans from springing for this set. But there's not a bad cut here, nor more than a dozen tracks that have been heard in 50 years, or are ever likely to be heard elsewhere. And most of the 200+ songs, covering 1936 until early 1947, never showed up on LP. The first six songs on Disc One are of special interest, since they feature Tubb with only his own guitar as accompaniment -- since his voice is the dominant instrument, before age and smoking hardened it, the stuff is all worthwhile. The first Decca sessions from 1940 are also of extraordinary interest -- the playing is sharper and anticipates his later recordings with a band, and Tubb's newly narrowed, deeper voice has a freshness that his later singing gradually lost. His subsequent sessions were even more successful, accompanied by Dick Ketner on electric guitar, which gave Tubb a more assertive sound and a backing against which his voice worked even better -- here are the roots of honky tonk music. Disc Two is where honky tonk comes into the world fully formed, with a comparatively loud, jaunty backup and Tubb's vocals acquiring the smooth, deep, emotive quality that characterized his peak performance. This disc is Ernest Tubb lean and mean, creating a popular music genre as he goes along. Disc Three and the three that follow are made up of the rarest, largest body of work in Tubb's entire career -- the World Broadcasting Service recordings, made during the musicians' strike. Disc Seven returns to Tubb's formal Decca recordings, while Disc Eight contains 26 previously unreleased cuts. The notes, photos, and sessionography on this volume are as overwhelming as the musical contents.

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