Since I got loads of positive reactions to a recent post on the Louvin Brothers, here´s another installment about my favorite country brother team. And as it´s Easter Monday, what else can I do but put the spotlight on their amazing gospel album Satan Is Real? Released in ´59, it´s their concept album avant la lettre about the everlasting rivalry between God and the Devil, or - as the liner notes put it so enthusiastically - a personal crusade against the Prince of Darkness. The album sleeve is an amazing classic: Ira and Charlie are pictured in their white Sunday suits on a pile of blazing rocks, the red silhouette of Satan towering in the background. The plywood Lucifer was built by Ira himself by the way. The photoshoot took place in a rock quarry, and the duo barely escaped serious injury when the kerosine-soaked rocks got so hot they blew up and red hot fragments started flying around.
The music is just as great as the cover shot and sounds as fresh as if it was recorded yesterday. Thanks to a full band, the sound is a bit more robust than on your average Louvins session, with the subtle gospel organ being an especially nice touch. Ira´s mandolin isn´t in the foreground as much as usual, but when you do hear him it´s a treat.
The material is a mix of original compositions and covers, and it´s all killer. No mean feat in a time when most artists were still single minded and regarded their albums merely as a showcase for a couple of their hits, extended with substandard filler. The Louvins´ trademark harmonies are incredible throughout, with Are You Afraid To Die being a perfect example of the voices of the two brothers blending together perfectly. The same goes for The Drunkard´s Doom, a heartbreaking tale that becomes a bit poignant when you consider Ira himself had a drinking problem as big as Jack Daniel´s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. The idea behind the title song came from firsthand experience. Ira and Charlie once attended a country church somewhere in Alabama, when an oldtimer stood up in the middle of the service and started preaching just like Ira does here. "It´s sweet to know that God is real... but Satan is real too!"
The Louvin Brothers - Satan Is Real MP3
The Louvin Brothers - Are You Afraid To Die MP3
The Louvin Brothers - The Drunkard´s Doom MP3