THE EARLY YEARS (4CD BOX SET)
The recordings of Mainer's Mountaineers, Wade Mainer and Zeke Morris, Daddy John Love, The Dixie Reelers, The Morris Brothers.
J E Mainer and his brother Wade were playing fiddle and banjo for fun around the hills near Ashville, North Carolina until they met guitarist Zeke Morris in the early 30s and formed the Mountaineers. In 1935 they hit pay-dirt when they got a regular slot on the Crazy Water Crystals radio show where their popularity drew the attention of Bluebird Records who took them into their Atlanta studios to record eleven titles. One of the songs "Maple On The Hill" was a massive hit kick-starting a career for JE Mainer that was to last into the nineteen sixties when he was still recording for Arhoolie and Rural Rhythm, appearing on a TV documentary on Earl Scruggs and still performing for thousands at the Newport Folk Festival!
The most likely reason for their longevity was Mainer's belief that their material should be as diverse as possible, so for recording purposes, he turned the Mountaineers into several different bands and used ‘em to peddle almost every form of country music. Over the years these bands performed as vocal duets, trios and traditional string bands whose repertoires featured fiddle breakdowns, mountain ballads, minstrel songs, rural skits and popular songs of the day. They wrote wagon loads of tunes and plundered the song books of the Blue Sky Boys, the Carter Family, the Georgia Yellowhammers, Blind Alfred Reed and Vernon Dalhart in their search for new and commercial sounds.
The 100 tracks on this 4CD set stand testament to the fact that no matter what the format of the band, the music remained constant and the songs that, for decades thrilled the people of the southern mountains, still delight connoisseurs of real old time music today. Sit back and soak up these wonderful songs about Little Maggie, Charlie Lawson, Johnson's old grey mule, homeless children, little red Fords, dobie shacks, train 45 and the fatal wreck of the bus! They'll transport you back to the golden age of American country music.
This wonderful collection runs chronologically through the career of some of America's finest old-time musicians and we should be grateful to Pat Harrison for his enlightening sleeve notes and to Chris King for making his 78s available and producing transfers which are fantastic - you've never heard this music sound so pure and vital!
Ask for JSP77118. Usual nice low price for this and all JSP boxes only £14.50 plus p&p
Review Date: March 2009