Darby & Tarlton- Complete Recordings
"Let's start by saying that there aren't any other collections of Darby and Tarlton's work currently available, so if you want any of it, you've got to take it all. Having said that, one should add that there isn't a bad song among the 70 surviving tracks (among 84 recorded) included on these three CDs, and anyone who enjoys white country-blues should seriously consider saving up for it. The duo's first recording features the kind of spirited vocal and guitar interplay that would characterize their subsequent work together. The appeal of the double-barrel hit "Columbus Stockade Blues"/"Birmingham Jail" is obvious -- drawing on several strands of Kentucky-based folk material that will be familiar even to casual listeners, but the harmonizing and the distinctive sound of Jimmie Tarlton's steel guitar give it several fresh twists. By the end of the disc, the duo and their recording managers had enough expertise at capturing their sound in the studio that their harmonies and paired guitars were outstanding on record, and they were transcending the work that made them famous. Disc Two shows off generally better sound and better blues. The duo returned to more pop and country-oriented material in the sessions that followed these, as though searching for the formula that would bring them new success. The sound quality of all three discs is generally very good, although a few tracks, where surviving source material is limited, retain considerable surface noise. Disc Three's real highlights are the straight blues, though pop music also makes its influence felt. By the dawn of the 1930s, the duo -- who never really liked each other personally -- began working independently of each other, and this part of their careers make up a section of the third disc. This is followed by a series of Jimmie Tarlton solo numbers that are almost all stunners -- listening to these songs, it becomes clear that the playing of either of these men was good enough that their vocal harmonies were almost distractions. Tom Darby and Jesse Pitts' jaunty recordings under the name of the Georgia Wildcats, are among the best numbers here. The booklet is, as usual, very thorough, although as there is astonishingly little known about Darby and Tarlton, much of the booklet is given over to Tarlton's career revival in the 1960s and to a song-by-song analysis."
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