Thursday, June 17, 2010

Classic Recording Sessions - On This Date (6/17)

The Carter Family
Saturday, June 17, 1933 - 77 years ago
Camden, NJ
Sara Carter: vocal, autoharp, guitar; Maybelle Carter: guitar, vocal; A.P. Carter: vocal
Producer: Ralph Peer
Victor Records

Thursday, June 17, 1937 - 73 years ago
New York, NY
Sara Carter: vocal, autoharp, guitar; Maybelle Carter: guitar, vocal; A.P. Carter: vocal
Decca Records

Today we have 26 songs from the Carter Family from two sessions exactly four years apart. The first session is a significant one for the Carter Family in that it almost didn't happen. This was the first session after Sara and A.P. had separated following Sara's initial "flings" with A.P.'s cousin Coy Bays (who she would ultimately marry), and A.P.'s becoming aware of it. Sara had moved back with her aunt and uncle and initially refused to do any more recordings with the group. A.P. wrote letters back and forth with their producer/manager Ralph Peer until ultimately he convinced Peer to have his wife Anita write a personal letter to Sara making a plea in favor of the recordings. It worked, because Sara realized it was her only way to make money for her and her children. Sara moved back to Maces Springs in advance of the recordings to rehearse with the group, but stayed with Maybelle and Eck's family rather than at home with A.P. and the children. The trip to New Jersey for the sessions (and New York where they would also do a radio broadcast from Radio City Music Hall) could well have been strained, but the performances from the session don't suffer. Several classics, including "Give Me Roses While I Live," "Gold Watch And Chain," and "School House On The Hill" are recorded at today's session. Significantly, another classic Carter Family song recorded at today's session, but that still remains unissued is an early version of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." The Carters would record two more sessions in 1934 to wrap up their initial run at Victor before moving on to the American Record Corporation (ARC) in 1935.

By our second session, four years later, much has changed. Sara and A.P. are now divorced. They've left ARC for Decca Records where they would do sessions each June for three years running from 1936 to 1938. Today's session is the first day of the second year of the Decca sessions. At ARC they would re-record much of their Victor material, but at Decca all the material was new. Twelve songs were recorded today including the classics, "In The Shadow Of Clinch Mountain" and "Hello Stranger."

It's a lot of Carter Family to listen to, but I hope enjoy both of these sessions as much as I do...


BarrieB said...

I first heard the Carter family in the mid '60's on a couple of albums on the Ace Of Hearts label.
Back then the recordings were 30 years old & now they are as valid today as they were back then.
The foundation of most of what we accept as country \ folk music.

Don said...

This is wonderful music. The Carter Family sounds absolutely great in spite of the technology of the 1930's. (I recall finding The Carter Family being a bit hard to listen to back in the days of the Camden LP reissues.)

I've come to appreciate The Carter Family more and more over the years.

I will give another listen to these sessions with your comments in mind.

By the way, are the photographs from those years too? Thanks for this great posting.

Joaquin LeFleur said...

@Don-So glad you're enjoying the Carter post. I love them too more and more as the years go on. But I too grew up with those Camden albums that my grandpa had, so I know what you mean.

The photos are probably close to the correct era, but not exactly. If I had to date them, I'd say the first one is probably a little earlier than the 1933 session, and the other is probably a little later than the 1937 session. It's probably from the era of their radio show which would have been a year or two later. But that later photo I hadn't seen as much, and there aren't too many pictures I'm familiar with that show them performing live.

Thanks again for the comments...


Anonymous said...

Hi again Joaquin,

I'm just working my way through your posts and they're so interesting. I've never seen those photographs of Hank Williams and the Carter Family - and the live recordings of Hank are just great! Thanks so much for sharing. I just added the link to your site now. Best wishes, Marie