Carter Family

When the Roses Bloom in Dixieland, Worried Man Blues – 1996 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

The Carter Family (A.P., Sara and Maybelle) represent the roots of country music. This pair of CDs represent their 1929-30 recordings, some of them their best known. The uninitiated should not expect the polished sound of most of today's music, although technicians did a great job removing the hiss and scratchiness of the original recordings. Instrumentation is the Carter standard: guitar and autoharp.

The 1930 songs feature an unusual amount of trio work along with some of the Carters' more standard duets. While all songs are credited to A. P. , many were in fact written and even recorded earlier by others. Many came from A. P. 's song hunting trips into the mountains. Be prepared for a lot of repetition in sound. Given they only used two instruments and no special effects, there is certain to be a sameness. But listen closely to the lyrics. They represent powerful sentiment and the overwhelming problems of the times. Favorites include "Wabash Cannonball," "Jimmy Brown the "Newsboy," "Worried Man Blues," and "Lonesome Valley." This is an important addition for any collector. Listen carefully, and you might just come to understand country music.