The Maddox Brothers & Rose

1946-1951, Vol. 1

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Better than Hank Williams, Sr.? Some country fans might light a bonfire in order to burn at the stake anyone voicing such an opinion about a country recording. But many listeners may agree that as great as Hank Sr. was, the versions of his songs done by this wild family band are so energetic and over-the-top that they practically defy description. Every female country singer including the great Patsy Cline picked up on the Rose Maddox growl which makes the words "honky tonk" sound like so much more than slang for a lively roadside bar. Above and beyond Rose's efforts there is the busy instrumental back-up including terrific playing from steel guitar innovator Bud Duncan. Sound effects and crazy licks fly through the air thicker than the sounds at a Western swing convention. This is part of a series documenting the group's efforts, and if they are all as fine as this then the whole collection is worth having for sure. Highlights here, besides the Hank covers, include a medium-tempo take on "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," previously unreleased; Woody Guthrie's hysterical "Philadelphia Lawyer," complete with gun shots; and the equally manic "Careless Driver."

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