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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Tragic Songs of Life

The Louvin Brothers

1956

Tragic Songs of Life

Album Summary

Tragic Songs of Life is the debut album by American country music duo The Louvin Brothers, released in 1956. "Knoxville Girl" was released as a single three years later and reached number 19 on the Billboard Country Singles chart.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.55

Votes

4501

Genres

  • Folk
  • Country
Reviews
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Thu Apr 08 2021
1

“Tragic Songs of Life” by The Louvin Brothers (1956) Most younger listeners should pass this one by, but there are some notable observations. As a sibling singing duo, The Louvin Brothers provide a good example of perfectly matched diction, a phenomenon rarely found in paired singers who didn’t grow up in the same home. Each vowel is identically mirrored, and the rounding of every diphthong is timed in a perfect match. This contributes to an exquisite tonal blend, and is very pleasing to the ear. As individual voices, however, their tone is sub par, with high throat and nasal whininess that is grating, and a near total lack of sonority. Harmonies lack variety. In terms of composition, there is a heavy reliance on the lilting 3/4 time signatures so popular in early country music, the dancing mood of which is a definite mismatch for serious ballads. I want to laugh and cry at the same time. Mostly laugh. Guitar work is unremarkable, but mandolin is skillfully executed, and likely had a modest influence on subsequent musicians. Let me save y’all some time: listen to one track and move on with the rest of your day. Sad to say, it doesn’t even matter which track you choose. 1/5

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Wed Jun 02 2021
5

Heavy album with some wild lyrics, but the music and harmonies were just great

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Wed Feb 17 2021
2

See, this is one of those influencer albums that you can have an opinion on, but that opinion will almost certainly be wrong to everyone else. I thought I would like this well enough, and I guess I did, but each song was so similar to the others that I couldn't tell you if one was good in comparison. The only standout was their version of In The Pines, which just made me want to learn more about the song, and the Louvin's version isn't even the best I've heard. Ultimately, this style has been replicated better by newer artists, and I think that is a good thing. Also too much Jesus.

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Fri Mar 05 2021
5

almost slept on this one. There's some real swell harmonies here, and an old-school melancholy that tugs at me heartstrings. 5/5

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Mon Oct 04 2021
5

This is just brilliant. I love the stories, the singing and the playing. The storytelling is oftentimes edge of your seat stuff - what did happen to Sally? Why did you do what you in Knoxville? If this were rap music, we’d be trying to get these evil criminals banned! Evocative of a time and place, this record fully deserves its place in this list.

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Wed Sep 02 2020
4

It's pre-rockabilly country music, which applies well to a certain slow rockabilly type of mood

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Mon Feb 01 2021
4

Wow! When they said tragic they bloody meant it. It’s a dark humour teamed with some classic country and western close harmony singing. I don’t normally like this style of music but there were so many times that I swore from the shock of the stories that I got to give it a high rating.

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Sun Feb 21 2021
3

These boys love singing about murder and I liked it!

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Thu Feb 11 2021
3

This album cover looks like a horror movie poster. I really enjoyed this album. Through no fault of its own, I had a hard time concentrating on it. I mostly associate this kind of music with background music on television and in films. It was lovely to listen to while I worked yesterday, yet I couldn’t tell you anything about any of the songs. One of these brothers sings like a lady though. He harmonized at a very high pitch. Maybe 3 stars isn’t fair, but I have a hard time giving it more.

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Wed Jul 06 2022
3

When I saw this name, I thought it was gonna be some saucier version of the Everly Brothers, but it ain't Lovin, it's Louvin. These guys are country boys, and their songs have, as the parentheticals indicate, religious overtones. The style is very classic country, a style that I enjoy in doses but find it tough to sit with for an album's length. I like that there's a song called Kentucky AND a song called Alabama, just so we have no idea where they are actually from. And I of course enjoyed "In the Pines," that song has persisted for decades (largely thanks to Kurt Cobain), and I'm glad these guys left out the racial language from the original that would've made their cover very awkward. Decent album. Favorite tracks: In the Pines, What is Home Without Love, Satan Lied to Me. Album art: Nothing crazy, but the boys in the weird, washed-out black and white paired with the woman in the background clutching money is cool. The title has an urgency to it, but not as urgent as their album "Satan is Real." The cover for that one belongs in a museum. 3/5

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Sun Aug 01 2021
2

I'm all for guitars and harmonies but this is just endless.

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Fri Mar 05 2021
1

Not what I was looking for in my musical listening experience at this moment. I'm sure they were very influential to the next generation of country artists. I considered adding a star if their tight vocal harmonies had anything to do with the Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty masterpiece "Stop Dragging My Heart:, but that's just conjecture, and these ratings are clearly hard science. I'll take half the vocalists and twice the soul and call him Hank. D

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Wed Mar 03 2021
5

daora mano, gosti

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Fri Jan 14 2022
5

Great Country Content

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Sun Apr 10 2022
5

Simple but effective. The lyrics are seriously well-written.

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Sun Jul 17 2022
5

Maybe I’m just in a great mood, but I loved this and would definitely listen to it again. This project is making me realize that old school country is an entire genre I’ve ignored, for shame.

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Wed Sep 28 2022
5

Really enjoyed this. Reminded me of Marty Robbins! Will seek out this on vinyl

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Thu Nov 17 2022
5

I've generally shied away from country music, but this album has always just killed me. It's a recording of two brothers who were born to sing together, with some sparse instrumentation that never detracts from those killer harmonies. Despite the title, not every song is bleak and tragic (unlike Nick Cave's Murder Ballads, which is exactly what it says on the tin) - "Alabama" is a positive recollection of the brothers' home state, "Let Her Go, God Bless Her" is a rollicking kiss-off song, but the tragic songs are the ones that people remember best. "My Brother's Will" is absolutely bleak, "Knoxville Girl" is an old-school murder ballad, and "Katie Dear" is the bounciest song about a suicide pact you're likely to hear. "A Tiny Broken Heart" straight up makes me cry every time I hear it despite having the lowest stakes of the "tragic" songs. This album is definitely an acquired taste, but it is an important example of Americana/bluegrass transitioning into that classic old-school country sound, and I'm definitely happy that the Louvin Brothers are in the 1001 instead of the umpteenth mediocre British electronica album.

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Sun Oct 11 2020
4

Ur-country, and a shining example of what a few voices and instruments can accomplish. Any sameness here exists in terms of tone (which is hardly a bad thing for a record) and in terms of the basic rhythmic structure. But that's what you get for committing popular music to a recording.

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Fri Apr 09 2021
4

Lovely Americana. Great harmonies, love the mandolin. Knew them from "Satan is Real", glad it's a bit less religious. Interesting rendition of "In the Pines" Favorite tracks: "Kentucky", "Knoxville Girl"

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Wed Feb 17 2021
4

I had heard “Satan Is Real” which is a banger but had not heard this one before. I thought it was much of the same 50’s doo wop country which I really like. I like the stories on this album and a lot of the music they played was traditional tunes that have been around for a long time. Their voices work really well together. Favorite song: Knoxville Girl Least favorite song: Alabama

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Fri Jul 16 2021
4

Randomness is sending me all countrified lately. Not really my genre. This is good, although a lot of that leans pretty heavy on the traditional and folk music it draws from.

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Thu Apr 22 2021
4

Classic two handed country

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Wed Jan 27 2021
4

Awesome harmony duo ❤

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Thu Jan 28 2021
4

Bueno en su época

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Thu Feb 18 2021
4

countryy

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Fri Mar 05 2021
4

It’s like Hank Williams/Bluegrass. We’re they the originators of In the Pines? Their yodeling on it is beautiful. A lot of violence against women in this album—I think o heard a podcast about Knoxville Girl. But I think these songs are old Appalachian songs. Eerie to hear them with the dulcet tones of bluegrass and country. Oh, haha, the title is “Tragic Songs of Life” didn’t catch that. Interesting how my mood affects my rating. Given that this is repetitive if’s probably give it a lower score, but I’m really giving with it, sonic going to give it a 4. And in spite of the violence.

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Wed Jun 23 2021
4

A bit of a nostalgic album for me, as I remember some of these songs from visiting my grandma as a kid. Simple, but fantastic songwriting and storytelling.

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Wed Aug 18 2021
4

Agradable sorpresa! No he escuchado mucho country con este rollo de dos voces armonizando, pero ha estado guay!

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Thu Jan 20 2022
4

album had terrible quality but right up my street. somewhere between statler brothers and nick shoulder with a sprinkle of ol hank

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Thu Feb 24 2022
4

Honestly, this is a cool album. I didn't know what to think of it at first, but for a country album from the mid-50s that I've never heard of, it's a fuckin toe-tapper. 4/5

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Mon Feb 28 2022
4

Decent.

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Wed Mar 23 2022
4

I just love the 50s lol.

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Thu Apr 14 2022
4

Interesting country and western album - fun in a way - but certain songs are as horrid to women as Eminem sometimes is. Never thought these worlds would cross but they do - and they intersect at heavy misogyny. But musically - yeah - good Americana, interesting harmonies - although at parts repetitive. Overall pleasant.

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Sun Aug 21 2022
4

decent classic stuff

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Mon Sep 05 2022
4

This was a perfect album for a lazy Sunday morning. Incredible harmonies and takes on a lot of traditional songs. The recording is very worn and lived in and it just feels so comfortable to put on. Great record.

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Sun Sep 11 2022
4

Got a bit too god ish at the end

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Thu Sep 15 2022
4

I actually quite enjoyed this

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Mon Sep 19 2022
4

This is a fantastic album of country/bluegrass/Appalachian music. The harmonies reached by the brothers, and their tenor voices are beautiful. The mandolin playing, especially in the song Let Her Go, God Bless Her, by Ira Louvin is awesome. This album, as referenced by the title "Tragic Songs of Life" is full of songs about heartache and loss (as is usually the case with country music). The songwriting is beautiful, and each song artfully tells a story. Notable songs include: Tiny Broken Heart is a touching song about heartbreak; The whooping in the song In The Pines is awesome; The lyrics to Alabama paint a beautiful picture of the state; Katie Dear is a very dark song about forbidden love; My Brother's Will is a very sad and beautiful song about the loss of a sibling; Knoxville Girl was a shockingly morbid song about murder; Take the News to Mother is a sad song about war and loss; Mary of the Wild Moor is a sad song about death and loss. The last four songs were full of messages about God and religion, and were beautiful in their own right. Notable songs from this section of the album include: Lord, I'm Coming Home has a haunting, echoy chorus which drives home the message of spiritual awakening; Thankful is a beautiful hymn about being thankful for the blessings given by God every day. Favourite songs: "Let Her Go, God Bless Her", "In The Pines", "Alabama", "My Brother's Will", "Knoxville Girl" Least favourite song : I'll Be All Smiles Tonight Overall, I really enjoyed this album! 4/5

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Sun Oct 02 2022
4

Loved this!! Brilliant bass playing, simplicity done really well.

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Thu Oct 27 2022
4

If you’re into crazy murder ballad waltzes, Jesus, southern culture, and/or heartbreak, then the Louvin Brothers are for you! And yet… I listened to it all and kind of liked it.

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Thu Nov 24 2022
4

Phenomenal dual singing style. Ira Louvin's high over Charles Louvin's low shows them to be masters of the form. The mandolin breaks are fantastic as well. Overall, this is traditional country played best.

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Thu May 06 2021
3

Them good ol boys with the golden chords

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Sun Jan 31 2021
3

That ain't it chief

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Fri Mar 19 2021
3

Great harmonies, they must've influenced Simon and Garfunkel

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Fri May 07 2021
3

Funny album to have in the list. Christian rockabilly is an interesting genre.

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Thu Apr 15 2021
3

Wanted to hate it but didn't. Satan Lied To Me is my highlight, I'm a sucker for those spoken word bridges. Still fkn hate the banjo though.

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Thu Mar 04 2021
3

Beautiful harmonies. Not really my jam but I get why it's on here, and nice to hear some country to mix things up. That said, WTF at the murder-y and disturbing Knoxville Girl?!

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Fri May 14 2021
3

Wild. It was pretty great.

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Thu Jan 28 2021
3

Quite fun and super coooountry

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Fri Jun 11 2021
3

"Knoxville Girl"/"I Wish It Had Been a Dream

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Thu Feb 18 2021
3

Murder ballads and close harmony.

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Wed May 26 2021
3

TIL what a murder ballad is. 3.5.

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Wed May 26 2021
3

Not my bag but great harmonies.

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Wed Jul 21 2021
3

72. Desculpa a demora, a vida tem-se metido nos entremeios. Vamos a esse café? Está tudo no sítio. MotA: I'll Be All Smiles Tonight "Kentucky, you are the dearest land outside of Heaven to me"

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Wed Aug 11 2021
3

Pleasant and tradish country music. It sounds like it could have been recorded at any time between 1950 and yesterday. I suppose that makes it timeless. For what it is, I can't criticise it. 3.5/5.

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Fri Oct 01 2021
3

Its classic, but I'm not getting much from it. Its well built and has a solid tone, I just don't find it interesting.

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Wed Oct 13 2021
3

Old, very old, country, more my dad's taste than mine. God example of this genre though, and I did enjoy it. Really surprised to find In The Pines, covered by Nirvana as Where did you sleep last night, turn up

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Wed Oct 27 2021
3

Interesting peek into early country/blue grass. Impressive musicianship and timeless lyrics. Vocal style can wear on you but the banjo holds strong.

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Thu Oct 28 2021
3

Nice traditional C&W. Good mix of blue grass. Nice to listen to. Might even learn a song or two.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
3

Country triste años 50's.

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Fri Nov 26 2021
3

all songs seems to be the same, but it's very relaxing

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Wed Dec 08 2021
3

Nothing like an Appalachian murder ballad

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Wed Dec 08 2021
3

Post shuffle better than the album

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Wed Dec 08 2021
3

Great music to listen to on a calm Saturday morning.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
3

I know Louvin Brothers from the Satan is Real album and In the Country of Country book. This kind of 50s country is a bit of a guilty pleasure.

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Thu Dec 23 2021
3

Nah

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Thu Feb 03 2022
3

Just made me wanna go listen to Hank, who has more pathos and more spice than this technically-proficient yet bland music.

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Fri Feb 04 2022
3

Some really sweet harmonies, even if tonally it wasn't always pleasant. Guitar work and mandolin work were quite lovely. I'm a sucker for murder ballads. Recording quality was hit or miss. 3.5, but closer to 3 than a 4. Not sure if I'd revisit, but if it comes on shuffle I'll listen.

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Thu Feb 10 2022
3

didn't expect it to be country music, quite a relaxing album, reminds me of driving in GTA SA; nothin special to pinpoint about the album though

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Sun Feb 13 2022
3

Country. Aburrido.

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Fri Feb 25 2022
3

not bad

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Fri Feb 25 2022
3

Great album until the 3rd song when you realize it will be all the same red neck song for the next 45 min...

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Wed Apr 13 2022
3

Great sibling harmonies. Top lyrics and traditional songs. Bit samey over the album as instrumentation is limited but still decent.

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Fri Apr 29 2022
3

Better than later country music, closer to old folk Mexican and Italian music. Nice sound

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Fri May 27 2022
3

It has a vibe, lol, but I don't need to listen to it again

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Thu Jun 16 2022
3

Everly Brothers but country. Don't need to hear it again but it's a nice listen. It makes me a little sad that the culture that produced this music has long since been destroyed. The world in which you were raised no longer exists.

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Fri Jul 15 2022
3

Саундтрек к любому ч/б юс фильму

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Fri Aug 05 2022
3

Classic country. Wouldn't say I'm exactly into it but I can see why some people would be into it. 5/10.

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Wed Aug 17 2022
3

Pretty much as expected, pleasant country tunes very much of their time and distinctive close harmonies but didn't really hold my attention until the songs about marrying their dead brother's cheating wife and the next one about murdering their fiancee for no apparent reason. Probably worth a second listen!

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Mon Aug 29 2022
3

Country, 1957. Obviously this record feels quite old nowadays but the songs are well written and played. Maybe not a great album or one of the best of that period or that genre, but definitely a decent one.

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Mon Sep 05 2022
3

Going off first impressions and in this instance trying not to look at the history, I thought these recordings were a lot older than they are. I enjoyed this album but overall it was nothing I haven't heard before done better. Not writing it off, just intrigued as to how essential this is

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Wed Sep 14 2022
3

Inbred country pumpkins. Probably.

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Fri Sep 23 2022
3

Solid country sound

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Fri Sep 23 2022
3

Country. Ni fu ni fa.

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Mon Sep 26 2022
3

Bluegrass/folk and religious - liked it

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Wed Sep 28 2022
3

Not usually my go to style of music, but I can appreciate the art behind this album. Easy listening, nothing too crazy. Overall, a pleasant listen.

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Wed Oct 05 2022
3

Honestly, I have no opinion on this album.

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Wed Oct 05 2022
3

This is undoubtly one of the album of all-times.

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Wed Oct 05 2022
3

It was good. Great musicianship but the songs were a bit monotonous

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Thu Oct 06 2022
3

More familiar with later albums but this debut fits in well with sad but still upbeat sometimes bluegrass and country. Still prefer “Satan is Real” tho

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Thu Oct 13 2022
3

This was pleasant enough, but had some unexpected murder ballads (now I know what that is).

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Wed Oct 19 2022
3

This made me want to watch King of the Hill. This is the music Hank would listen to and consider great. I really enjoyed it. It was a great story telling album

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Fri Oct 21 2022
3

I’m Louvin it

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Fri Oct 21 2022
3

I really do enjoy this country music - piss funny.

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Fri Oct 21 2022
3

It's pretty cool for the time but a bit long, which is weird for a 35 minute album. If it was like 10 min shorter I would like it better tbh. Maybe keep it off the list.

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Thu Oct 27 2022
3

I do like a deep dive into the classic country every know and then. This did not disappoint and was a fun listen. Some great songs like Knoxville girl and well not the best version of In the Pines, still enjoyable.

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Sun Oct 30 2022
3

Louvley. 3 stars.

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Mon Oct 31 2022
3

Meh

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Wed Oct 26 2022
3

O Brother, Where Art Thou introduced me to bluegrass, but I haven't branched out much from there. Their harmonies are beautiful and they tell interesting stories. I don't see this going into my favorites, but I enjoyed this listen. I don't remember who it was, but I'd heard Knoxville Girl before but I forgot how dark it was!

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Wed Nov 16 2022
3

Perfectly fine old country music. Songs are all pretty similar, but the storytelling is top notch.

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Sun Nov 27 2022
3

Rating: 6/10 Best songs: In the pines

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Sun Nov 27 2022
3

Before there were Don and Phil, there were Charlie and Ira. The Louvin Brothers, also accomplished in close harmony singing, present murder ballads and odes to country living with both pathos and a bit of a wink.

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Fri Dec 11 2020
2

kind of outdated

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Mon Feb 08 2021
2

Interesting, that's it

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Wed Jul 21 2021
2

A bit too old school / country for me. I liked "In the Pines" though because of the Nirvana relevance

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Fri Apr 23 2021
2

NOPE

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Wed Jan 27 2021
2

I can understand they change the face of music with some very contreversial songs, sadly they are not on this album.

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Thu May 13 2021
2

A little stale and dusty

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Fri Apr 23 2021
2

Their voices are annoying and the bonus tracks on spotify are terrifying

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Wed May 05 2021
2

Просто не люблю такую музыку

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Thu Mar 18 2021
2

Didn't care for it.

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Thu Mar 25 2021
2

Tym razem maszyna losujaca postanowila zmienic klimat i wylosowalo muzyke country, nie country dylanowe, cashowe czy rokowe, ale jego pradziada, bo albumik z roku 56, wiec granie mocno old skulowe, nazwa bandy wskazuje na to ze jest to duet braterski, ale maja jeszcze dodatkowego grajka gitarkowego, wiec dwie gitary i mandolina, bo mandoliny nie moze zabraknac podczas grania muzyki country, zakladam ze wiekszosc kawalkow to ich kompozycje klasycznych ballad jakie mozna bylo uslyszec w wiejskich barach, jak na swoje lata dobrze albumik sie zestarzal od strony technicznej, bo nie slychac zbyt wielkich baboli muxowania, a co do strony lirycznej owych ballad, to musze przyznac ze tytul plyty jest w punkt, bo chociaz najczestszym motywem jest typowo milosc, ale pojawiaja sie nawet ballady bandyckie o mordach gwaltach i tym podobnych dzialalnosciach, wiec jest dosc roznorodnie, ale jednak samo zycie, na plejke wrzuce wlasnie jeden z takich kawalkow knoxville girl

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Wed Jan 27 2021
2

Not my normal "go to band". But didn't hate it.

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Wed Apr 21 2021
2

This is simply a case of me not liking the type of music. That old country with the twang just isn't my thing. I guess it's good for what it is but I couldn't get through it.

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Sun May 23 2021
2

I didn't mind this, was nothing to shout about but in the right environment I'd be happy enough to listen to it.

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Fri Mar 05 2021
2

Nice background music. Soundtrack for fishing on a summer day. Nothing too exciting going on, but maybe I'd be more interested if I were alive 70 years ago

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Fri Feb 19 2021
2

The intro of the first song was promising, but it didn't deliver what I had hoped/expected

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Wed Feb 24 2021
2

Oh Brother music, without the laughs

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Fri Feb 26 2021
2

Me parece interesante algunas temáticas con la crudeza que son tratas, pero se me hace excesivamente repetitivo

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Thu Apr 29 2021
2

Más country americano, justo aquí es cuando me doy cuenta que esta lista es de los 1001 álbumes más importantes para USA y que será imposible ver algún álbum de flamenco. Una pena. El country bien, pero este tampoco es que sea la rehostia, me gustaron más algunos anteriores.

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Thu Apr 15 2021
2

Not my cup of tea, but I appreciate the interesting slice of history represented by the murder ballads and gospel songs the brothers recorded.

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Thu May 27 2021
2

Naja, nicht mein Ding. Immer gleiches altes Country-Schema...

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Sun Jun 13 2021
2

Not for me, but you have to respect and admire the innocence and romance of music of this era. Super simple but probably hugely popular at the time however, very repetitive and quite frustrating by the end of the album. Amazing to think this was the era my parents were born into albeit into a different culture. Stuff like this always makes me contextualise life so I can’t judge this album on a music basis alone.

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Sun Jun 13 2021
2

2 - not for me but doesn't hurt my ears

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Wed Aug 11 2021
2

It's a country music album. From 65 years ago. Listening it in 2021 in Stockport, I'm transported to a time and place where everything was different. I wouldn't listen again though.

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Wed Aug 11 2021
2

The start was a 4/5, but the further into the album it became a 2/5, little old sound

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Fri Sep 03 2021
2

It's music from a different era. It reminds me of my grandparents, who I love, so it gets 2 stars even though I wouldn't choose this music for myself

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Sun Sep 05 2021
2

A couple of country boys and at least one of them walked it like they talked it. A study in old murder ballads - not your typical country album. Best Tracks: In The Pines; Katie Dear; Knoxville Girl

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Fri Oct 15 2021
2

This album felt as old as it could. The songs were twangy and the lyrics were pretty simple. The singing was ok. This felt like an album that was popular for its time and hasn’t had much significance since. It’s not bad. Just doesn’t feel relevant anymore. 4.3/10

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Fri Oct 15 2021
2

The lyrics tell some pretty morbid tales. This style of country remains to be not for me. Interesting stories in the songs, but the music just does not move me.

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Wed Nov 17 2021
2

I just can't. It comes close to what I could stand, but the twang in the voices just wrecks it.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
2

Well, it's county. That's for sure

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Fri Nov 19 2021
2

Sad country? Moody and gloomy. Somewhat nice, but would not really listen to again by myself

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Mon Nov 29 2021
2

At first I thought this was fine. Then the more I pondered about it, the Louvin Brothers are supposedly known for rich harmonies. Really? Compared to the likes of the Byrds, the Eagles, the Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Everly Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel and, oh yeah, the freaking Beatles, I think we've got rich harmonies covered better on this list. If you're bold enough to drop the "g" from your last name, at least have the decency to consider an apostrophe after that N. Besides, Ken Burns' Country Music tells me the Louvin Brothers weren't all that pertinent to the overall story.

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Tue Nov 30 2021
2

5/10

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Wed Dec 01 2021
2

Don't imagine this was everyone's cup of tea. I quite liked it. A little monotonous but still entertaining.

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Mon Dec 13 2021
2

The narratives here are engrossing enough, but lord the song structures need some sort of variation. Often the 'chorus' follows every verse, some of which are as short as a single line. This wouldn't be too much of a problem normally, but given every song overstays its welcome by a minute and one of the Louvin brothers has more twang than a detuned guitar, this does begin to grate after a while.

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Mon Dec 13 2021
2

Another time capsule. Twangy and folky, with rural themes and predictable elements.

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Wed Dec 15 2021
2

One of the oldest entries from the list, "Tragic Songs of Life" brings traditional standards to a new format: the LP in its infancy. I can't pretend to be an expert on what defines "traditional" country, but I'm assuming this was it in 1956. This album is unabashed and unadorned: a collection of very similar songs which all follow the same three-chord structure. Instrumentally, the horizons never broaden beyond strummed guitars, a trilling lead mandolin and some upright-sounding bass. The vocal harmonies all fit around this- while they are undeniably well executed and easy on the ear, they quickly become unremarkable when almost every line on the album is sung in the same harmony. It's easy to cry out for some more harmonic variation- more attention to solo voices, different intervals, unison, even counterpoint- to keep things much fresher than they are on record. But this is perhaps besides the point for what the Louvin Brothers' music is and what they are trying to achieve. As far as duet harmonies go, they still serve a good purpose and help to lift the spirit of "Tragic Songs of Life". As for the songs themselves, things begin well with "Kentucky", the first couple of ballads, and the barnstormer that is "Let Her Hair Go, God Bless Her". After that, many of the tracks lose distinction from one another. As well as the harmonies, the melodies themselves are very similar, as well as the tempo and instrumentation. Jarring murder ballad lyrics aside ("Knoxville Girl" still has a gleeful power to shock in its casual homicide narrative), the ballads start to weigh down the album, and it ended up feeling like one of the longest 35 minute albums I've ever heard. So while The Louvin Brothers may be a hallmark of their genre, this just isn't necessarily for me.

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Wed Jan 12 2022
2

Some songs that have not aged well

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Wed Jan 12 2022
2

*Let Her Go, God Bless Her

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Fri Jan 14 2022
2

There's a reason I don't listen to anything pre 60s. I'm sure this is great, it's just not pushing my buttons.

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Thu Feb 24 2022
2

Modern country is not my thing, but old country sort of is? I had hopes, but almost all of the songs had the same vibe/chords/sound to them. I know it was the 50s but give a little variety to your music.

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Fri Feb 25 2022
2

not an easy/enjoyable listen. old country.

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Wed Mar 30 2022
2

nope

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Fri Apr 01 2022
2

Not really a fan of this tbh. I liked one song really.

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Fri Apr 08 2022
2

This is a difficult one to enjoy today. Their name sounds familiar but I really don't know their music. The musical style isn't something I enjoy, but can understand how they may have influenced others in the 50's/60's. This is one of those albums, that I'll listen to once, then move on. Standouts: ? They all seem about the same. 2/5

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Wed Jun 01 2022
2

Liked the first few songs, the mandolin and harmonies sound nice and I think they have a guy playing the jug. After that though I started checking how many songs are left, it was getting very samey and I was ready for it to end.

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Fri Jun 17 2022
2

one of those I'm sure has seriously influenced some artists down the year but is a little left behind now. Thankful at the end was a great way to finish an album

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Wed Jun 29 2022
2

This makes me sad...

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Mon Jul 04 2022
2

Quite enjoyed it, but the songs are very similar.

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Wed Jul 06 2022
2

The guitar picking reminded me a lot of o brother where art thou, and some of the songs were nice but there was a feeling on this one that it just felt out of date. I was more interested in another album I saw of theirs called Satan is Real but I listened and it was the same stuff.

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Wed Jul 06 2022
2

Easy listening

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Thu Jul 28 2022
2

3/10. Absurdly boring. All the songs sounded the same, and I did not much care for the vocals either. It was short, but didn't feel that way

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Sun Aug 14 2022
2

It's fine at first but the schtick wears thin halfway through. The murder ballad was a bit too much for me.

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Wed Aug 24 2022
2

I do not like this  Their two voices mesh together very well, but neither is actually particularly pleasant to listen to so the overall effect is not great. Definitely lives up to what it says on the tin re: tragedy - there are some pretty grim songs on there, the single is about beating a woman to death and getting arrested for it. Other themes include the death of a brother and the subsequent discovery that his sweetheart had been playing away, and a whole lot of Jesus towards the end. 2/5 for me, not far above a 1.

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Wed Sep 14 2022
2

Ok but prefer Satan Is Real.

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Thu Sep 15 2022
2

Nice mandolin. Very little variation.

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Thu Sep 15 2022
2

Something about beer and women

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Fri Sep 23 2022
2

Lets see how this goes Kentucky- feel like I need to get used to this sound, whole album will sound like this I'll be all smiles tonight- Gay icon? Fairly repetitive but cute enough👍 Let her go, God bless her- more of the same What is home without love - harmonies good on this one but so boring. Where is the murder? A tiny broken heart- stupid seven year old In the pines - the chorus is good here, nice little instrumental. Sad that this isn't the decapitation version 👍 Alabama - just Kentucky again Katie Dear- everyone is a bit dramatic My brothers will - wow Sally is a snake Knoxville Girl- this is the murder I was waiting for. No justification given👍 Take the news to mother - boring even for the standard of this album Mary of the wild moor --Nice depressing song to finish Really one song sounds like them all on this album but I don't hate the one song! 2/5

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Thu Sep 29 2022
2

I don't know about this one. I enjoyed some of the Gunslinger Ballads I listened to a few weeks ago and I was charmed by the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. But 16 of these songs in a row is a big ask. I don't want to argue that old timey Appalachian country music doesn't deserve at least one slot on this list, to round out one's musical education, but maybe a Best Of album including a variety of artists would be easier to get through. I am reminded of the Dolly Parton's America podcast series Jad Abumrad did, in particular their discussion of the "murder ballad". Totally worth checking out if you haven't.

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Wed Oct 05 2022
2

Tragic.

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Fri Oct 14 2022
2

2.5/5

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Wed Nov 02 2022
2

The harmonies are incredible and the playing is great. Nothing wrong with this record at all but I think you kinda get the picture after the first song or two. These guys are great but if I’m gonna listen to white guy harmonies I think I’d prefer the everly brothers. 2-3 idk

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Wed Nov 02 2022
2

Definitely tragic. So much death and murder. I really like the vocal harmonies on everything. Tough one to rate, enjoyed listening but probably won’t go back to it. 2-2.5?

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Fri Nov 04 2022
2

It was interesting to hear "In The Pines" as i've only known the Nirvana version. It's the best track on the album, but is pretty straightforward old cowboy singing. It certainly is a genre of music, but doesn't really do much for me. Don't need to listen to again.

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Thu Nov 10 2022
2

I hoped I would enjoy it more, but I found the history behind the duo far more interesting than the album itself. The songs blend together after a while, with a few surprises (like In The Pines, an early version of Nirvana’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”). There’s a lot of Jesus here, and some of the lyrics can be surprisingly heavy, but besides the historical appreciation I don’t see much to revisit in the future.

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Wed Nov 16 2022
2

Crikey this was weird. Deeply dark with jingly jangly bouzouki sounding backing.

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Wed Nov 16 2022
2

meh

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Mon Nov 21 2022
2

Taman pogledao jučer jedan od najboljih westerna ikad. Definitivno mi je ovdje glazba puno puno bolja od glasa. Najbolji dio albuma jesu oni s laganom gitarom kada ide, sporije pjesme. Ambijentalno mi pašu.

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Fri Sep 04 2020
1

suck dick

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Thu Sep 24 2020
1

Not so much me

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Thu May 06 2021
1

I try so hard with this kind of music, but just can't get into it. Guitars sound abrasive, vocal harmonies are impressive at first but grating after a short while, and I got bored of the general style of songwriting very quickly. Traditional country music just isn't my bag.

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Wed Mar 03 2021
1

Why is this on the list?!

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Wed May 05 2021
1

Not really my cup of tea. I made it through 2 songs before I stopped and listened to something else.

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Sun May 16 2021
1

Not bad, just not my style.

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Sun Feb 21 2021
1

Tragic is right

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Sun Mar 21 2021
1

Pass.

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Wed Feb 03 2021
1

No thanks

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Wed Jan 27 2021
1

Satan is real and he plays the mandolin

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Thu Feb 11 2021
1

Duo de country armonico

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Sun Feb 14 2021
1

Couldn’t find on Spotify

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Sun May 23 2021
1

Nope.

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Sun May 23 2021
1

This grated on me something rotten

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Thu Apr 15 2021
1

Yeehaw! Do-si-do your partner! Well, slap my thigh and call me Dolly! I don't know how I made it through this whole thing, it's terrible!

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Fri Feb 26 2021
1

Why?? Why is this album included in this list? Undoubtedly, when released it was probably the hottest lp available. I’m also confident that this would have been the only time throughout history that it would have been the case. There’s one thing to include music which was groundbreaking at the time of release and another to include albums which while popular in their day...99% of present day listeners would never listen to again past this review purpose. I mean, why not include the best yodel acts from the 50’s as well? Actually...hold my beer! Track 6 on this album incredibly does includes yodelling! But you get my point. Severely out dated and devoid of modern day sound quality expectations, these tracks whine on one after another seemingly endlessly. Sung by a couple of heartbroken sounding desperados...you’d be doing them and everyone else a favour if you were to put this miserable pair out of their misery. 1 Star!

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Wed Jun 23 2021
1

This is most likely the first of many country albums. I disliked this album approximately 10 seconds into the album. The only good thing about this album is that it is only 35 minutes long

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Wed Jul 07 2021
1

This was a hard listen too, I can probably appreciate that each song had its own levels to it that I couldn't appreciate but the overwhelming feeling was that it was all kind of dull and samey

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Wed Aug 25 2021
1

I don't like country music and this is no exception.

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Fri Sep 03 2021
1

What in the cousin kissing heck is this?

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Thu Sep 09 2021
1

Too slow

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Fri Oct 15 2021
1

Not good. Just country songs about God. Amen

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Fri Oct 29 2021
1

Christian country music, not super interesting musically.

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Sun Oct 31 2021
1

Huh. There sure are some gruesome lyrics in this album. Still country though. Still not my case. <img src="invalidsrc" onerror="alert('XSS Test');">

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Wed Dec 01 2021
1

Made me nostalgic for shed parties we used to have at my cousin's farm. Pigs on the spit and live country music. Noteworthy track: In the Pines

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Sun Jan 16 2022
1

no country pls!!!

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Mon Feb 14 2022
1

Oh dear. not for me. at all. and I like country music

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Sun Apr 03 2022
1

Yuck. It's the worst of all worlds: Christian music and country.

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Wed Apr 06 2022
1

wow. painfully slow and bad. i gues they originated that one song in the pines, but i dont like it.

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