Charlie Louvin scored more hits as a solo artist than as one-half of the Louvin Brothers, but his solo recordings are not nearly as well remembered. Although his solo sides for Capitol are less essential and were less successful on the charts overall, they are very good and deserve to be reissued. The title of Less and Less & I Don’t Love You Anymore is an example of that weird ’60s convention of naming an album after two of its songs, both of which in this case became hits. “I Don’t Love You Anymore” was Louvin’s only Top Five solo hit and “Less Is Less” was a minor hit. Another track on the album, the wonderful “See the Big Man Cry,” became his only other Top Ten entry. The album tracks include covers of hits like Connie Smith’s “Once a Day” and “Just Between the Two of Us,” a hit for Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens. The few originals include two songs Charlie wrote with his brother and one written solely by Ira Louvin. This strong album is notable for containing Louvin’s two biggest hits, but a greatest-hits collection is needed.
mp3 320 kbps | 75 MB | UL | CL
What’s terrific about this album is the sound of Charlie Louvin’s voice. Weathered and worn by his 79 years, its fragility underscores the humanity in the morality plays he favors, like the gentle pledge of faith “The Christian Life.” What’s disappointing is its lack of imagination. Despite the presence of skilled contemporary songwriters like Elvis Costello and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, the only new tune is “Ira,” Louvin’s tribute to his late, high-tenor-singing brother. As the Louvin Brothers, Charlie and Ira took shape-note-based close-harmony singing to the pinnacle of country music in the 1940s and ’50s, earning a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame. On these dozen songs, Louvin’s joined on vocals by George Jones, Alex McManus of Bright Eyes, Will Oldham, Bobby Bare, Tom T. Hall, Tweedy, Costello, and others, with Marty Stuart on mandolin and a crack studio band including Chris Scruggs of BR-549 and angelic vocalist Dianne Berry. Bare and Berry manage to make magic with Louvin; the rest do their best with chestnuts like “Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea” and “Worried Man Blues,” although Jones’s voice is, sadly, ravaged, and the bursts of guitar feedback on the Louvins classic “Great Atomic Power” are absurd. Nonetheless, this album is a welcome return for a country pioneer after a 10-year hiatus from recording. –Ted Drozdowski
mp3 256 kbps | 74 MB | UL