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An Historic Reunion: Sara and Maybelle The Original Carters
Sara & Maybelle Carter
An Historic Reunion: Sara and Maybelle The Original Carters
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Sara & Maybelle Carter
Title: An Historic Reunion: Sara and Maybelle The Original Carters
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Koch Records
Release Date: 4/22/1997
Genres: Country, Folk, Pop
Styles: Classic Country, Traditional Folk
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 099923792529

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CD Reviews

History Captured on a CD
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 12/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have cherished this album, first on vinyl and then on CD, for years. I have an original vinyl copy of the Columbia issue, which I purchased from a rare record dealer in the late 1970's.

Now this is what I call music.

For the unfamiliar, Sara and Maybelle were two thirds of the original Carter Family. Together with Sara's first husband, A. P. (Alvin Pleasant) they made some of the very first country records. They were discovered on the same day and at the same amateur audition as Jimmie Rodgers, long dubbed "the Father of Country Music". I often say that if Jimmie was the father of country music, Sara and Maybelle were surely its mothers. They made their first records in 1927, when the recording industry was in its infancy. Their partnership lasted until about 1943, when they ceased recording completely. By performing and recording with her three daughters, June Helen and Anita, Maybelle kept the Cater Family name alive for years after the original trio broke up. In the original liner notes for the vinyl LP, June's husband, Johnny Cash, says that, for him, the first time he met Mother Maybelle Carter was like meeting the Queen of England. Country royalty, indeed.

Many people find the vocal style of the original Carter Family rather jarring. Their sound is totally non-commercial, and the "arrangements" to their songs are minimal, stark and simple. Unlike commercial superstars, whose sound is molded by the demands of the record buying public, the Carter Family sang pretty much they way the did the first time A. P. heard Sara singing on her family's porch in the mountains of Virginia. Theirs is a professional, but not polished, sound; true, original and home-grown, and the charm and simplicity of their heartfelt vocals are both consistent and sincere.

The reissue of these tracks are exciting for folk and country music enthusiasts alike. I am always thrilled to hear anything by Mother Maybelle, and I suspect the presence of her character in the film "Walk the Line" will pique the curiosity of many about her life and music. The actress who plays Maybelle in the Johnny Cash biopic is positively spooky in her resemblance to the real Maybelle, and one colorful incident related in the film (there's a scene where Maybelle - shotgun in hand - and her husband chase a drug dealer from Johnny Cash's property) is sure to generate renewed public interest in her story.

But the music is the point, of course. Let me point out just a few highlights.

The album opens with a rousing gospel number, Higher Ground. Of course, country gospel is far more subdued than that of the African American variety, but just as spirited, nonetheless. Higher Ground boasts a wonderful melody, but any melody that passes through Sara's guitar or Maybelle's autoharp has to come out sounding wonderful. Sara handles the lead vocal on this and all the other tracks, with Maybelle filling in harmony and background vocal as appropriate. "Lord, lift me up, and let me stand, my faith on Heaven's stable hand. A higher plain than I have found, Lord plant my feet on higher ground". Their simple, heartfelt sincerity will send chills though you with each guitar chord. Sara plucks her guitar with the famous Carter lick, a sound often imitated but never improved by anyone. And Maybelle plays her autoharp with all the skill she showed in 1927, and then some. Maybelle is credited with being the first musician to pick individual notes on the autoharp, rather than simply strumming the melody. The autoharp is a totally charming instrument, whose popularity has waned since the 1920's. Reese Witherspoon reportedly took autoharp lessons for her role as June Carter in Walk the Line, which made we wonder exactly where one would go to get autoharp lessons in the 21st century. Sara and A. P.'s son, Joe, also sings harmony on several tracks, "To fill in the gap left by his father". Another highlight is another favorite original Carter Family recorded in 1941, The Happiest Days of All.

But the standout of the album, for me, is a tune called "While the Band is Playing Dixie (I'm Humming Home Sweet Home)" an old-fashioned piece about a soldier dying in battle after penning a farewell to his sweetheart. It will no doubt be labeled hokey by some, but it gave me chills the first time I heard it, and it still gives me chills today. The songs borrows a device that Sara used on the Carter's original recording of The Homestead on the Farm (another of my favorite songs from the hundreds they recorded between 1927-1943). During the instrumental portion, Sara blends the melody to "Home Sweet Home" into the chorus of While the Band is Playing Dixie, so skillfully that you're almost unsure of where one starts and the other leaves off. Meanwhile, Maybelle's harmonizing on the chorus is absolutely breathtaking.

They found it in his pocket, a blood-stained little note
A bullet hole had pieced it through and through
It began with, "Darling Mary, if I don't come back again
Just remember that my last thoughts were of you".
While the band is playing Dixie, I'm humming Home Sweet Home
It takes me back to Georgia, though I'm far across the foam
Once again beside the river with my Mary dear I roam
While the band is playing Dixie, I'm humming Home Sweet Home
Be it ever so humble, no place like home...

And there's no sound quite like Sara and Maybelle, the original Carters.

Highly recommended."
One of the greats!
Eva Beaton | 01/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While I haven't listened to the CD I have the record, and played it for years. I enjoy the Carter Family and this one was a very special one my mother bought. She grew up with the Carter Family in the Depression and had a lot of the recordings on 78's. I am buying the cd so will enjoy many more years of this fantastic music and these lovley sounds of home.
My grandparents all came from the US to Canada, and were all from Missouri and the Ozarks, so this was very familar style of music to the family, It is one of my favourite musical experiences, as well as the Scottish music which is another heritage musically.
Mountain Music and what would be called Hillbilly in my family Rules!"
Perhaps the best recording of mountain music I've heard
Eva Beaton | 07/27/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As one whose heritage stems from the Appalachians, I can say it was a real find to come across this album at I am reminded over and over again of my own roots and this comes especially from the language, both usage and pronounciation, not to mention the wonder of the music."