Live Classics From The
Country Music Hall Of Fame
Review by Steven Stone
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CD Stock Number: CMF Records A52158 8121
Nowadays Marty Robbins is more respected than appreciated. Much of his studio material sounds dated because of syrupy string arrangements and slick backup singers. But a new release from the Country Hall of Fame brings the real live Marty Robbins to us in a way that even us young'uns can appreciate. Culled from years of live performances on the Grand
'Ol Opry, this CD features twenty selections that showcase not only Robbin's fine voice, but his ability to change his musical styles to fit with the times.
Beginning with a 1951 performance of "Ain't You Ashamed", Robbins' early material is pure western swing. His 1955 rendition of Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right" puts a corn-fed country twang on this Elvis Presley classic. The guitar solo (which I believe is Robbins) is a virtual encyclopedia of classic early R&R guitar licks. By the late 50's Robbins' style had evolved into a countrified pop style complete with a whistling chorus and perfectly executed three-part back-up harmonies. The Burt
Bachrach/Hal David tune "The Story of My Life" typifies this kind of song.
Robbins is best known for his cowboy songs. These cinematically influenced ditties captured the imagination of a public that was clamoring for John Wayne westerns and Davy Crockett coonskin hats. Live performances of Robbins' own "El Paso" and Tompall Glaser's "Running Gun" provide a suitable finale to this recording.
Besides a fine selection of live performances, you'll discover thoughtful and historically detailed liner notes from the Country Music Foundation's Ronnie Pugh. He helps put Robbins' work within the social context of his times. My only complaint with the packaging is the lack of musician's credits. It would be nice to know who was responsible for some of the great solos peppered throughout the disk.
The sound on this CD is better than you'd expect considering it is taken from radio broadcasts. It isn't as full-fidelity as modern recordings, or even Robbins' studio work, but the sound is good enough so that it never gets in the way of the music. Fortunately there was no attempt to add stereo effects or artificial reverb to the original sound. The final result is a clear sonic picture of what Marty Robbins sounded like when he played live. What more could a music-lover ask for?
Sound Quality: 70