The Louvin Brothers – When I Stop Dreaming: The Best of the Louvin Brothers
Its easy to hear hints of the Louvin Brothers sweet, high harmonies in the music of the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Jayhawks and others. Now its easy to hear the Louvins themselves on this 24-cut best of collection. The Louvins Ira on vocals and mandolin and Charlie on vocals and guitar played a gospel-tinged version of hillbilly country, eschewing a band in favor of an upright bass and occasional piano. The magic is in the blending of the brothers voices, weaving in and over each other, finding harmonies seemingly without effort.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Louvins and their sound is their steadfastness of purpose. The last work represented here comes from 1962, a scant five years before Gram Parsons ushered in the new era of country-rock with the International Submarine Band. The Louvins sound positively Appalachian compared to the backbeat driven honky-tonk of Parsons and Co., yet they sound anything but dated.
This collection gathers tracks from 1952 to 1962, drawing on both secular and gospel releases. Finding The River of Jordan next to While You’re Cheating on Me may seem an odd juxtaposition, but whether singing about women or God, the Louvins invest their songs with a passion that is undeniable. Fans of modern alternative country will recognize such gems as If I Could Only Win Your Love, The Great Atomic Power and Cash on the Barrelhead. Those willing to dig will find several more. Informative and entertaining liner notes by Marshall Crenshaw, who also compiled this collection, round out a lovingly-rendered and essential package.