Anyone who saw the recent American Folk trilogy of programmes was in for a treat: a magnificent journey through the heartland of American traditional music in the 20th Century, awash with interviews, archive clips and an engaging narrative. All of which won’t hurt this 50-track roundup of music from folk/country royalty The Carter Family. Their all-pervasive influence has been felt via everyone from The Everly Brothers and Bob Dylan to Steve Earle and Alison Krauss.
In a nutshell, during their purple patch in the late 20s and early 30s, AP Carter (accompanied by wife Sara and sister-in-law Maybelle) wrote or adapted songs which all but defined the emergent folk style, such as Wabash Cannonball, Wildwood Flower, Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Keep On The Sunny Side. Where other acts were content to simply keep old songs alive, The Carter Family took music to a new place during a boom in the embryonic recording industry, which saw the yet-to-be-named folk genre enjoy a brief spell of popularity. The trio continued till the early 40s, whereupon the family tradition was passed onto a new generation, leaving behind a musical legacy which all but defines the spirit of American folk and its evolution into country.