Best of the Best of the Best

The Essential Roy Acuff (Columbia Legacy)
Roy Acuff

By Bob Mitchell

The Acuff name is a guarantee for the absolute best in traditional country music and this project is pure gold from start to finish from the first super star in country music. Fourteen tracks recorded between 1936 and 1949 capture, as the title suggests, the essential Roy Acuff. Many readers can rely only on releases such as this one to experience the sound and feel of Acuff's work. This reviewer, however, actually attended a concert featuring Acuff as well as Mother Maybelle and the Carter Family, an unforgettable event. Thanks to compilations like this one, those thrilling sounds from the 1930s and '40s are preserved forever.

Acuff, known as the "King of Country Music," approaches every song with simple honesty. Most tracks feature his extraordinary vocals and acoustic stringed instruments. However, in the mid '40s bands began to use an electric guitar and this project contains several examples: "Pins and Needles In My Heart," and "Wabash Cannonball."

Essential is a bountiful celebration of the man and his music. Some of my favorite selections include classics like "Great Speckle Bird," "The Precious Jewel," "Fireball Mail," "Night Train To Memphis," and "Wait for The Light To Shine." In summary, this release is a vital slice of musical history that deserves a place on the shelf of anyone who loves real country music.