Various Artists

Mountain Music Collection, Vol. 4: Farm & Home Hour

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The final chapter in the ambitious four-volume Mountain Music Collection brings it all home with 20 selections reminding the listener of the joys derived from down-to-earth rural life. Rarely has the allure of traditional Americana been as precisely presented in a single compendium as it is on the aptly titled Farm & Home Hour. These quaint and light-hearted ditties recall a much simpler era when the subject matter of popular songs was drawn out of instances familiar to the self-sufficient working man. Nowhere is this more evident than the opening Grandpa Jones knee-slapper, posing the age-old question "Are You From Dixie?" or the Mac Wiseman query "I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home?" Wiseman is joined by the Osborne Brothers, who provide their sweet trademark harmonies throughout. In terms of instrumental prowess, few can best the high-octane fiddle of Chubby Wise on "Chubby's Cacklin' Hen," which is rendered at an astounding breakneck pace. While certainly no match for Wise, Arthur Smith holds his own on the spirited "Pig at Home in a Pen," a vintage side that dates back to 1937 and features Alton and Rabon, better known as the Delmore Brothers. Bluegrass and country enthusiasts will also be thrilled by the set's other rare archival performances, including Ashley & Foster's "Ain't No Use to High Hat Me" circa 1934 and Asa Martin's "There's No Place Like Home" documented the same year. It was thanks to the success of tunes like the 1935 hit "Old Woman and the Cow" that Gene Autry garnered his moniker as the one and only "singing cowboy." Comparatively, more recent favorites courtesy of Lester Flatt & the Nashville Grass ("Hot Corn, Cold Corn"), Paul Warren ("Tennessee Wagoner"), Don Reno ("Limehouse Blues"), and the Stonemans' ("Whippoorwill Song") fill out this disc of music depicting life in America's breadbasket.

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