Just when you think Arhoolie had just about cleaned out the Maddox vaults, something like this sneaks up on you. Recorded from KXLA radio broadcasts by a teenaged fan in 1953, this catches the Maddoxes near the beginning of their Columbia years, when they were arguably at their peak.
Oddly enough, the Maddoxes don't seem to have used these broadcasts to push their then-current Columbia releases. Of the 32 musical tracks here (six more are comedy bits) only "On Mexico's Beautiful Shores" was ever recorded by the group for their new label, though Rose later recorded "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" in 1958 as a solo act. Everything else either dates back to their 4 Star days (1947 to 1951), is a comedy bit, or was never recorded by the group in a studio setting. And the latter category is the real meat here. The listener is afforded the opportunity to hear the group tackling popular numbers of the day that they never otherwise recorded, such as Hank Williams' "Kaw-Liga" and "My Bucket's Got a Hole In It," Tommy Collins' "You Gotta Have a License" Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Shot Gun Boogie," and (no foolin'!) "Peter Cottontail," among others.
Though there isn't a lot of dynamic range here, the historical value is obvious, not to mention the entertainment value. Forty-five years later, the Maddoxes still come across as F-U-N. A worthy companion to last year's "On the Air."