Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Roy Acuff: Columbia Historic Edition [Columbia, 1985]
The Opry fixture and publishing mogul is well-served by a series format that combines a few very famous songs with half-forgotten hits and unreleased vaultorama of varying quality. He's granted 14 cuts instead of the series' usual 10 or 12, and because he relies on tried and true folk melodies, the new stuff gets friendly real fast. In fact, although John Morthland recommends the Time-Life box, this is all the Acuff I need. Not unlike the Kingston Trio, the Smoky Mountain Boys were folkie populizers who turned sentimental expression into sentimental entertainment. An education in mountain sensibility (and less obtrusively professional than Greatest Hits, which is less obtrusive than Acuff's label hopping post '40s remakes), the sampling is genuine Americana for sure. But Americana that's conscious of its own Americanness never hits home like the real thing. A-