- Released: November 24, 2003
- Label: Ace Records UK
Uncut - 3/04, p.1053 stars out of 5
- "ONCE MORE rounds up his primitively recorded hillbilly 45s:skeletally arranged, sharpening the edges of Acuff's trademark lonesome whine."
- 1.Once More
- 2.Searchin' for Happiness
- 3.I Don't Care (If You Don't Love Me)
- 4.One I Love (Is Gone)
- 5.So Many Times
- 6.Come and Knock (On the Door of My Heart)
- 7.They'll Never Take Her Love from Me
- 8.(Today) My Love Came Back to Me
- 9.Don't Know Why
- 10.Nero Played His Fiddle
- 11.Thanks for Not Telling Me
- 12.Write Me Sweetheart
- 13.Great Speckled Bird
- 14.Fireball Mail
- 15.Precious Jewel
- 16.Pins and Needles (In My Heart)
- 17.Wreck on the Highway
- 18.Unloved and Unclaimed
- 19.Wabash Cannonball
- 20.Don't Make Me Go to Bed and I'll Be Good
- 21.Old Age Pension Check
- 22.Night Train to Memphis
- 23.Beneath That Lonely Mound of Clay
- 24.Automobile of Life
2 LPs on 1 CD: ONCE MORE IT'S ROY ACUFF (1961)/KING OF COUNTRY MUSIC (1962).
Liner Note Author: Chris Bolton.
Arranger: A. Carter.
This two-fer combines two early-'60s Acuff LPs, Once More It's Roy Acuff and King of Country Music (also sometimes known as All Time Greatest Hits), onto one CD. Once More It's Roy Acuff was his first album for the Hickory label and was, as was often customary at the time, not so much a deliberately assembled full-length project as a collection of singles. It gathered the A-sides and B-sides of six singles he issued on Hickory between 1957 and 1960, none of them bearing the influence of rockabilly or the onset of the increasingly smooth and sophisticated Nashville production of the late '50s. It's to-the-bone hillbilly music, fiddle aboard and drums absent, though the Smoky Mountain Boys play with energetic fullness, and Acuff's lead singing is bolstered by plenty of strong backup harmonies. In addition to several of Acuff's own compositions, the selections included covers of tunes by first-rate writers like Don Gibson and the Louvin Brothers. And although Acuff was in his mid- to late fifties by this time, it's his vocals that stand out the most, with an almost raw naked vibrato-laden passion that never stoops to gratuitous sentimentality. It's not all solid-as-a-tree-trunk stoicism (though there's plenty of that), with catchy country swing coming into the mix on Gibson's "So Many Times," and even deadpan humor on "Nero Played His Fiddle" ("Nero played his fiddle while Rome burned, he liked his music hot"). King of Country Music has a dozen early-'60s re-recordings of songs Acuff first recorded in the 1930s and 1940s, including tunes that are about as well known as any in country music ("The Great Speckled Bird" and "Wabash Cannonball"), as well as lesser-traveled items like "The Old Age Pension Check." Re-recordings of familiar hits are always a dicey proposition, and from a purely historical point of view, the original versions of these are a better place to start to get an appreciation of Acuff's impact on country music in his early career. To its credit, though, these remakes don't suffer from any unnecessary contemporary studio gloss, which is probably the single biggest problem on projects of this kind. It's just straight well-played no-frills hillbilly, albeit with recording technology allowing greater clarity than the equipment of the 1930s and 1940s had. Acuff's vocals are good, strong, and committed as well, with a lonesome, at times soaring tower-of-strength quality that few others pulled off as well. ~ Richie Unterberger