- Released: February 1, 2008
- Label: Sbme Special Mkts.
Entertainment Weekly - 12/4/92, p.65
"...Acuff sang about subjects that helped define country--and delivered his songs in a high, emotional tenor that was later imitated by Hank Williams...a classic of bedrock country music..." - Rating: A
- 1.Great Speckle Bird
- 2.Steel Guitar Blues - (previously unreleased, alternate take)
- 3.Just to Ease My Worried Mind
- 4.Lonesome Old River Blues - (previously unreleased, alternate take)
- 5.The Precious Jewel
- 6.It Won't Be Long (Till I'll Be Leaving)
- 7.Wreck on the Highway
- 8.Fireball Mail
- 9.Night Train to Memphis
- 10.The Prodigal Son
- 11.Not a Word From Home
- 12.I'll Forgive You, But I Can't Forget You
- 13.Freight Train Blues
- 14.Wabash Cannon Ball
- 15.Jole Blon
- 16.This World Can't Stand Long - (previously unreleased, alternate take)
- 17.Waltz of the Wind
- 18.Sinner's Death, A (I'm Dying)
- 19.Tennessee Waltz
- 20.Black Mountain Rag
Includes liner notes by Colin Escott.
Digitally remastered by Larry Keys (1992, Sony Music Studios, New York).
Roy Acuff is the link between the traditional pre-war country sound of Jimmie Rodgers and the honky-tonk style of Hank Williams. Rodgers's influence can be clearly heard on "Just to Ease My Worried Mind," where Acuff emulates Rogers's patented train whistle imitation, and on "Wabash Cannonball," the Carter Family song strongly associated with Rogers. The old-timey/bluegrass feel of the Carter Family is a touchstone in Acuff's work as well, particularly on spiritually oriented numbers like "I Didn't Hear Nobody Pray" and Acuff's signature tune "The Great Speckle Bird," an allegory about the church.
Still, Acuff was a relative modernist--his singing style veers from the simple, folkie style of his forebears to incorporate a more emotive, stylized pop sensibility, as heard on "Tennessee Waltz." It was this distinctive tenor approach that played a key influence on Hank Williams's sound. This excellent compilation makes a strong case for Acuff's importance in the development of country music.