A mere six of these 28 tracks were previously issued (in 1965-1968, on the Milky Way and Tell International labels); the rest were taken from unreleased sessions spanning 1959-1969, though it's all from 1964-1969 except for a couple of 1959 straight rockabilly sides. That's the sign of an archival project that might seem excessive given Carter's obscurity. Fortunately, though, the sounds are quite worthwhile and deserving of release, both for their pretty high quality and from a historical standpoint, as there were few, if any, other musicians following Carter's odd path in the late '60s. While there's much of the untamed rockabilly musician in Carter's vocal delivery and material, it's not quite rockabilly. It's more like rockabilly-garage-soul, rockabilly in spirit but with the production convincingly updated to absorb some mid-to late-'60s trends. Because of his strange cover of "Jailhouse Rock" (which leads off the CD), where the tempo is accelerated past 100 miles per hour and fuzz guitar fights it out with Morse code bleeps, pounding piano, and a careening dobro solo, one might think of Carter as a novelty if that's the only track you're familiar with (which is likely if you've ever heard of him at all). But this ain't no Hasil Adkins, or some idiot savant cherished more for his weirdness than his talent. It's actually solid if strange hard-chargin' rock mixing good '50s and '60s traits, delivered with considerable vocal power by Carter, embellished at some turns by inventive touches like orgiastic female soul backup vocals. "Rebel Woman," the somewhat more conventional flip side of "Jailhouse Rock," is here and is another highlight, though some of the unreleased cuts come close to that caliber. On "Midnight Sun" and "Dobro Pickin' Man," two of the latest cuts on the CD, Carter unveiled a more mature country-soul side that's quite interesting too, though apparently not an avenue he pursued at length.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger