Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Otherwordly harmonies


For the most gorgeous, almost otherwordly harmonies in country music, look no further than the Louvin Brothers. Taking their clue from earlier country brother teams such as the Delmore Brothers and the Monroe Brothers, Ira and Charlie Louvin more or less perfected the genre during the fifties.

Their sound (soaring melodies and that trademark mandolin) was a big influence on the Everly Brothers in the early days of rock ´n´roll. Johnny Cash was a big fan too, and they toured extensively with Elvis, who namechecked them as his favourite country duo. A great anecdote about these heady days: when Elvis was playing some gospel on a backstage piano once, saying "This is really my favorite kind of music," Ira shouted at him "If that´s your favorite music, why don´t you do that out yonder, instead of that trash".

Later Gram Parsons carried the flame for a new generation, recording Louvin material with the Byrds and during his solo career. And these days many so-called alt.country groups are not entirely unfamiliar with the Louvins either. Only last year the eighty year old Charlie Louvin (his hothead brother Ira tragically died in a car crash back in ´65) duetted on record with Jeff Tweedy, Lambchops Kurt Wagner and Will ´Bonnie Prince Billy´Oldham amongst others.

For those interested in the Louvins, there are two excellent compilations in print without too much overlap: My Baby´s Gone 1955-1964 on Raven and When I Stop Dreaming on Razor & Tie. The freaks among you should hunt down the Bear Family boxset Close Harmony (with a staggering 219 songs on 8 cd´s!). There´s also an interesting biography of Jim and Ira by Charles Wolfe: In Close Harmony - The Story Of The Louvin Brothers (University Press Of Mississippi). Still in print as far as I know and much recommended. Now without further ado: here are some Louvin Brother gems to get you in the mood.

The Louvin Brothers - I Don´t Believe You´ve Met My Baby MP3
The Louvin Brothers - Kentucky MP3
The Louvin Brothers - Katie Dear MP3
The Louvin Brothers - The Angels Rejoiced Last Night MP3

8 comments:

wolff said...

I always get into a sentimental dream when I listen to the Louvin'Brothers. Especially when they sing "I wish it had been a dream" So much sorrow over a love and still trying to make out the best of it, amazingly beautifully!

jwroblewski said...

Great post. I'm a big Louvin Brothers fan as well.

Keep up the great posts!

-Joe (www.joedevivre.com/music.html)

Ramone666 said...

Thanks for the heads-up amigos!

brendan said...

their voices go together in that magic way i can only hear elsewhere from the beach boys. such good songs too. do not forget to check out SATAN IS REAL

great material on your site, ramone. ;)

Jordy said...

Nice post. I'm glad to see that the Louvin's are getting more attention in the blogosphere these days.

Dawn said...

Hey! A friend just sent me a link to your blog with your post on Hank and Bob and Jack...a convergence of three of my personal favorites. I can't seem to stop reading though now that I've begun.

My husband is an alt. country/folk/rock singer-songwriter and is a huge Louvin Brothers fan. He's been working on an original song written in their style and has thought about covering one of their songs for a show.

Of course, I grew up listening to the Louvins, Ralph Stanley, Hank among others so hearing others appreciating their music makes me happy down to my toes.

ululator said...

Thanks for informing/reminding people about the great Louvin Brothers.
BTW, what is the lovely picture at the top of the page (title, artist, etc.)?

Ramone666 said...

Thanks for the compliment Ululator. It´s a painting by my grandfather.