Roy Acuff

The Essential Roy Acuff [Columbia]

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Roy Acuff is a pivotal figure in country music, standing clearly at the crossroads of what had been termed hillbilly music and what would soon become modern country. A no more than adequate singer and fiddle player, Acuff still managed to hit just the right tone of sincerity with his spare and simple songs (most of which were carefully chosen covers), making him one of the first real stars of country music. This brief collection has his biggest hits, including the classic original versions of Reverend Guy Smith's "Great Speckled Bird," A.P. Carter's "Wabash Cannonball" (although actually sung by Dynamite Hatcher, one of the members of the backing band, "Cannonball" became Acuff's signature tune), and Dorsey Dixon's powerful and maudlin "Wreck on the Highway." Acuff's importance to the history of country music is huge, as much for his business and marketing acumen (which is still a viable career template for young stars today) as for his songs. Casual listeners will find this the perfect introduction to the first country superstar.

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