Various Artists

Howdy! 25 Hillbilly All-Time Greats

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Howdy! 25 Hillbilly All-Time Greats Review

by Alex Henderson

To say that country has evolved considerably over the years would be an understatement. Play some of the '20s recordings of Jimmie Rodgers, Riley Puckett, and the Carter Family right after hearing something that Patty Loveless or Trisha Yearwood provided 70 years later, and you'll receive a dramatic demonstration of just how much country has changed since its old-time era. Regrettably, old-time country hasn't always been treated respectfully by labels; there are plenty of poorly assembled collections that suffer from lousy sound quality and a lack of liner notes and recording dates. But this British release deserves applause for getting it right. Assembled by the London-based ASV label in 1995, Howdy! 25 Hillbilly All-Time Greats spans 1923-1942 and takes a thoroughly rewarding look at vintage country. The 76-minute CD gets into early honky tonk with Ernest Tubb's "Walking the Floor Over You" and Western swing with Bob Wills' "New San Antonio Rose" (both from the early '40s), but most of the material is from country's pre-Hank Williams, pre-honky tonk, old-time era -- and that includes hillbilly classics like the Carter Family's "Foggy Mountain Top" (1929), Jimmie Rodgers' "Blue Yodel" (1927), and Wendell Hall's "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'" (which goes back to 1923 and is the oldest track). Overall, ASV's digital remastering is impressive; the label has filtered out a lot of the noise and scratchiness associated with 78-era recordings, which is why Patsy Montana's "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" (1936), Gene Autry's "Atlanta Bound" (1931), and Riley Puckett's "Red Wing" (1927) sound much better on Howdy! than they have on other CDs. From decent sound quality (certainly by pre-'50s standards) to Peter Dempsey's informative liner notes, this excellent compilation gives old-time country the respect it deserves. Howdy! is enthusiastically recommended to both novices and serious collectors.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:46 Amazon
2 Wendell Hall 03:02 Amazon
3 Vernon Dalhart 03:09 Amazon
4 Vernon Dalhart 03:13 Amazon
5 Riley Puckett 02:41 Amazon
6 Jimmie Rodgers 03:31 Amazon
7 Jimmie Rodgers 03:10 Amazon
8 The Carter Family 03:17 Amazon
9 The Carter Family 03:04 Amazon
10 Alabama Barnstormers 03:16 Amazon
11 03:01 Amazon
Phil Crow / Frank Luther / Carson Robison 03:09 Amazon
13 03:17 Amazon
14 Gene Autry 02:50 Amazon
15 Aaron Sisters 03:01 Amazon
16 Marc Williams 03:09 Amazon
17 Hill Billies 02:53 Amazon
18 Patsy Montana 03:06 Amazon
03:02 Amazon
20 Roy Acuff 02:52 Amazon
21 Montana Slim 02:46 Amazon
22 Tommy Duncan / Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys 02:34 Amazon
23 Ernest Tubb 02:38 Amazon
24 Ted Daffan 02:41 Amazon
25 Carson Robison 03:11 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick