The Louvin Brothers

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AllMusic Review by

While the Bear Family label in Germany has accomplished many formidable feats -- four Johnny Cash box sets, six Hank Snow boxes, four Flatt & Scruggs boxes, and on and on -- the accomplishment in putting together this eight-CD 219-track collection of Louvin Brothers recordings may be the label's finest hour. If there were ever a duo that embodied the entirety of the country tradition from its folk music and gospel roots through the development of bluegrass and into honky tonk music, it was the Louvins, who have inspired virtually everyone who has come after them. Charlie and Ira took harmony singing to a new level and the creation of full-length albums far out of the sphere of one or two singles and filler. Whether it be in the duets of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, or the alt-country band Freakwater, the Louvins are in the stem. Here are contained all of their Capitol, Decca, MGM, and Apollo sides. All of the concept recordings, such as Satan Is Real, Tragic Songs of Life, and the rest, are here in chronological order, with complete session notes. In merely listing the personnel, the reader will be awed at who performed with them: Owen Bradley, Pete Drake, Don Helms, Chet Atkins, Grandpa Jones, Dale Potter, Buddy Harman, Jimmy Capps, and the Jordanaires, to name just a few. Fred Rose was their producer, along with Bradley. And then the songs -- whether they be traditional Christmas songs like "O Little Town of Bethlehem," broken-hearted love songs such as "I Hear You've Been Cheatin' on Me" and "Love Is a Lonely Street," patriotic anthems such as "I Died for the Red, White and Blue," or gospel songs like "Mother I Thank You for the Bible You Gave Me," the restless, lonesome ghostly sound of sweetness itself is present. It's true that this is mainly for the fanatics, but it's also for libraries and historians of the music, and for those who can't get enough of Gram and Emmylou or real country music. This set is a treasure. Period.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 03:02 Amazon
2 02:53 Amazon
3 02:52 Amazon
4 02:48 Amazon
5 02:36 Amazon
6 02:55 Amazon
7 02:41 Amazon
8 02:53 Amazon
9 02:27 Amazon
10 03:03 Amazon
11 02:39 Amazon
12 02:48 Amazon
13 02:41 Amazon
14 02:44 Amazon
15 02:35 Amazon
16 02:32 Amazon
17 02:56 Amazon
18 02:37 Amazon
19 02:23 Amazon
20 02:55 Amazon
21 02:25 Amazon
22 02:28 Amazon
23 02:51 Amazon
24 02:37 Amazon
25 02:24 Amazon
26 02:23 Amazon
27 02:33 Amazon
28 02:39 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:55 Amazon
2 02:50 Amazon
3 02:48 Amazon
4 02:38 Amazon
5 02:36 Amazon
6 02:37 Amazon
7 02:40 Amazon
8 02:37 Amazon
9 02:55 Amazon
10 02:31 Amazon
11 02:08 Amazon
12 02:46 Amazon
13 02:23 Amazon
14 02:34 Amazon
15 02:09 Amazon
16 02:35 Amazon
17 02:17 Amazon
18
02:37 Amazon
19 02:41 Amazon
20 02:18 Amazon
21 02:42 Amazon
22 03:15 Amazon
23 03:15 Amazon
24 03:03 Amazon
25 03:14 Amazon
26 03:51 Amazon
27 02:41 Amazon
28 02:32 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 03:18 Amazon
2 02:49 Amazon
3 02:57 Amazon
4 02:34 Amazon
5 02:29 Amazon
6 02:44 Amazon
7 02:18 Amazon
8 02:23 Amazon
9 02:28 Amazon
10 02:41 Amazon
11 02:48 Amazon
12 02:32 Amazon
13 02:33 Amazon
14 03:02 Amazon
15 02:26 Amazon
16 03:15 Amazon
17 02:57 Amazon
18 02:46 Amazon
19 02:20 Amazon
20 02:14 Amazon
21 02:27 Amazon
22 03:06 Amazon
23 02:55 Amazon
24 02:44 Amazon
25 02:37 Amazon
26 02:42 Amazon
27
02:34 Amazon
28 02:21 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:30 Amazon
2 02:20 Amazon
3 02:26 Amazon
4 02:35 Amazon
5 02:40 Amazon
6 02:46 Amazon
7 02:23 Amazon
8 02:15 Amazon
9 02:03 Amazon
10 02:30 Amazon
11 02:04 Amazon
12 02:32 Amazon
13 02:04 Amazon
14 02:23 Amazon
15 02:23 Amazon
16 02:16 Amazon
17 02:28 Amazon
18 02:31 Amazon
19 02:21 Amazon
20 02:08 Amazon
21 02:14 Amazon
22 02:41 Amazon
23 02:24 Amazon
24 03:19 Amazon
25 02:20 Amazon
26 02:21 Amazon
27 02:49 Amazon
28 02:59 Amazon
29 02:17 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 03:13 Amazon
2 02:54 Amazon
3 03:03 Amazon
4 02:19 Amazon
5 02:37 Amazon
6 02:16 Amazon
7 02:24 Amazon
8 03:17 Amazon
9 02:42 Amazon
10 02:57 Amazon
11 02:15 Amazon
12 02:48 Amazon
13 02:28 Amazon
14 02:26 Amazon
15 02:25 Amazon
16 02:44 Amazon
17 02:55 Amazon
18 02:42 Amazon
19 02:34 Amazon
20 02:37 Amazon
21 03:25 Amazon
22 02:19 Amazon
23 03:11 Amazon
24 02:58 Amazon
25 02:46 Amazon
26 02:52 Amazon
27 02:57 Amazon
28 02:02 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 6

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:44 Amazon
2 02:15 Amazon
3 03:00 Amazon
4 03:00 Amazon
5 02:43 Amazon
6 02:11 Amazon
7 02:28 Amazon
8 02:26 Amazon
9 02:37 Amazon
10 02:25 Amazon
11 03:21 Amazon
12 01:58 Amazon
13 03:13 Amazon
14 03:32 Amazon
15 02:31 Amazon
16 03:30 Amazon
17 02:09 Amazon
18 02:30 Amazon
19 02:39 Amazon
20 02:21 Amazon
21 03:06 Amazon
22 02:23 Amazon
23 03:01 Amazon
24 02:28 Amazon
25 03:30 Amazon
26 03:05 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 7

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:48 Amazon
2 02:31 Amazon
3 02:57 Amazon
4 01:55 Amazon
5 01:51 Amazon
6 02:25 Amazon
7 02:36 Amazon
8 02:42 Amazon
9 02:27 Amazon
10 03:08 Amazon
11 02:13 Amazon
12 03:09 Amazon
13 03:00 Amazon
14 03:32 Amazon
15 03:07 Amazon
16 02:59 Amazon
17 02:41 Amazon
18 02:43 Amazon
19 03:21 Amazon
20 02:37 Amazon
21 03:16 Amazon
22 02:53 Amazon
23 02:38 Amazon
24 02:39 Amazon
25 02:50 Amazon
26 02:38 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 8

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 03:03 Amazon
2 03:01 Amazon
3 04:00 Amazon
4 03:26 Amazon
5 02:11 Amazon
6 02:16 Amazon
7 02:37 Amazon
8 03:54 Amazon
9 03:38 Amazon
10 02:02 Amazon
11 02:26 Amazon
12 02:18 Amazon
13
03:03 Amazon
14 01:51 Amazon
15 02:26 Amazon
16 03:31 Amazon
17 01:56 Amazon
18 02:39 Amazon
19 02:06 Amazon
20 02:16 Amazon
21 02:11 Amazon
22 02:44 Amazon
23 02:17 Amazon
24 02:48 Amazon
25 02:54 Amazon
26
03:23 Amazon
27
03:22 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick