Ernest Tubb

The Legend and the Legacy

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The highest possible rating for this project reflects its brilliance as a grand statement about country & western music, especially the incredible loyalty its artists have toward historic figures in the genre. In this case, the giant being saluted is Ernest Tubb, a colossus who had such vast influence on country music that they probably had to barricade the studio doors just to keep all the performers in Nashville from trying to get in and pay their respects. In terms of an Ernest Tubb record, this is a very, very good one, although one certainly could argue that albums he cut in his prime with the finest versions of his bands should stand as the high points in his career. Yet again, the power of this album extends beyond the Tubb career and includes performances by many big names in country music, all done on the sly. The history of these sessions and their subsequent releases, reissues, and repackagings is long and confusing. At the center of it all is guitarist and producer Pete Drake, another country music giant who really loved Tubb. He got his idol to record a bunch of his old songs in the late '70s, during a period when the aging Texan was beginning to think his career was about over. Figuring it to be a solo project, Tubb about went through the roof with excitement when he heard the finished mixes. Suddenly there was Willie Nelson, singing the second verse of "Waltz Across Texas." Then there was the surprising presence of Loretta Lynn, Tubb's singing partner from years back. As the playbacks rolled on, each song revealed an exciting guest shot, including performances by Johnny Cash, Johnny Paycheck, and many others. The listener who has never heard a bit of country & western except for whatever got through the radio scan can be directed to this album as an example of the genre's great qualities. It is all here, from the stellar instrumental playing done in a confident yet relaxed manner to the many different vocal styles, each soaked through and through with personality. The production itself achieves its various glories through a rare combination of traditional musical approaches and relationships and the modern studio art of overdubbing, which allows artists who weren't even in the same room together at one time the chance to sing a duet. The contents of the album's initial release represent a shortened version of the entire session output, thus "Vol. 1" was attached to the Legend and the Legacy title. However, the first pressing on the Canadian Cachet label joined the list of album releases that were given a first volume number, only to never be followed by a subsequent edition. As well as Drake did with the artistic production, he appears to have floundered with the business of this album, resulting in a variety of pressings and more confusion than there are potatoes in a Texas breakfast burrito. There was at first a long delay in release as Drake begged for a major label to put out the project, all in vain. Tubb was considered too old for the big-shots in the country music industry by this time. The initial self-produced album that came out was badly distributed, and, in fact, when Cachet got a Canadian option on this material, there were many consumers in the United States who found it easier to get the release from Up North than the domestic issue. In the '90s, the material was finally repackaged in its entirety, meaning suckers who had the first volume and had been waiting for the second had to buy everything all over again. One repackaging from Intercontinental includes just enough of the first volume and the other material to irritate all those attempting to complete their collections. The Cachet set may be a case where less is more, as some Tubb fans feel the best material from these sessions was all packed onto the first volume.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:37 Amazon
feat: Vern Gosdin
3:09 Amazon
3 3:07 Amazon
feat: Loretta Lynn
2:29 Amazon
5 2:43 Amazon
6 2:04 Amazon
feat: George Jones
2:37 Amazon
feat: Johnny Cash
2:01 Amazon
9 3:14 Amazon
10 2:15 Amazon
11 2:45 Amazon
feat: Charlie Rich
feat: George Jones
3:09 Amazon
14 2:43
15 3:03 Amazon
feat: Loretta Lynn
2:40 Amazon
17 3:10 Amazon
feat: Justin Tubb
2:56 Amazon
feat: Cal Smith
3:04 Amazon
feat: Johnny Cash
3:29 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick