The recorded performances of G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter are among the most evocative and the most influential in early country music, providing a major source for the styles and repertoires of the Stanley Brothers, Doc Watson, and other later performers. These recordings remain forceful and immensely enjoyable decades after they were originally made, and Document must be commended for finally making available to the public the complete works of the duo, issued in two essential volumes. An unprecedented number of Grayson & Whitter's songs grew into the standards of old-time, bluegrass, and country music, though the power of the originals has seldom been surpassed in subsequent efforts. This disc contains versions of "Train 45," "Don't Go Out Tonight, My Darling," "Ommie Wise," "Handsome Molly," and several other staples in their earliest recorded forms. Overall, the work of Grayson & Whitter is full of lonesome roads and false-hearted lovers, remorseful ditties, and moralizing tales with endless admonitions of "Take warning, boys," juggling themes of love, death, and reckless abandonment in masterful waltzes, ballads, and breakdown dirges. The vocal interjections of the duo only enhance the songs, with Grayson or Whitter occasionally musing, "I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way," or weirdly philosophizing, "Why is a man born to die, anyhow?" in the middle of an otherwise festive dance tune. Vol. 1 begins with the team's first recording session for Gennett in 1927, moving chronologically toward a Victor date in July of 1928. The sound quality is consistently good, despite the age of the original 78s and Document's typically unreliable remastering. Together with its companion disc, this set belongs -- prominently -- in any old-time collection.
AllMusic Review by Burgin Mathews