The Carter Family

Country by the Carter Family

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This compilation combines recordings from 1940 by the original Carter Family -- A.P. Carter, his wife Sara, and his sister-in-law Maybelle -- with recordings made by an extended family of Carter-related performers including: the group the Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle (consisting of Maybelle and her daughters, Anita, Helen, and June Carter), who were sometimes billed as the Carter Family; Johnny Cash (whose second wife was June Carter); and Rosanne Cash (Cash's daughter by his first wife). All of these later performers wound up on Columbia Records in the 1960s and '70s, and they recorded together in various combinations so that, for example, "the Carter Family with Johnny Cash" made the country Top 40 in 1972 with "The World Needs a Melody," included here. Another country Top 40 hit was "A Song to Mama" from 1971, a narration by Cash with the Carters providing backup. Sara and Maybelle also got together for an album for Columbia, from which "The Ship That Never Returned" is excerpted. Of course, none of this material ranks with the handful of songs by the original Carters, and sometimes the segues can be jarring, as when the 1940 recording of "Behind Those Stone Walls" gives way to a Carter Sisters cover of Cash's "I Walk the Line." But the album gives a sense of the breadth of talent in the Carters, their progeny, and their in-laws and stepchildren.

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