The Best of Merle Travis — Sweet Temptation (1946-1953)
Razor and Tie
No musician has ever been, or will ever be, as influential as Merle Travis has been on guitar players as a whole. Think of the finest country or folk pickers who ever lived, and two names would have to be among them — Chet Atkins and Doc Watson. Both are men who held Merle Travis in such high regard that they named children after him (despite the fact that Chet’s child was a girl!). Both of these men’s playing styles have always carried very heavy Travis influences. Couple this with the fact that these two men are probably two of the most influential guitar players who ever lived, and reason will tell you that Merle Travis’ trickle-down influence is immeasurable. Heck, other than “The Carter Scratch” from that Carter Family gal, how many people will ever have a pickin’ style named after them? Merle Travis does.
As it says in the title, this release covers Travis’ best from 1946-1953. It’s not his slickest work — I’d probably look for a release that came out a few years ago called Walkin’ The Strings for that — but this is a good bit of his finest. His own rendering of his best known song, “Sixteen Tons” — the song that gave Tennessee Ernie Ford his career — cuts right to the heart of what it was really like for the early coal miners. His sense of humor and playfulness about the gentler sex are fully evident throughout. His classics “So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed,” “Divorce Me C.O.D.” and “Dry Bread” are a couple of the best examples of this side of him, but he shines brightest during the “Travis Style” pickin’. This also includes a number of his most famous rags, including “Steel Guitar Rag,” “Guitar Rag,” and “Cannon Ball Rag.” A mighty fine collection, all in all. Anybody ought to appreciate this release on some level.
Razor and Tie, P.O. Box 585, Cooper Station, New York, NY 10276, http://www.razorandtie.com