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Wilburn Brothers

The Wilburn Brothers + Side By Side – 2011 (Righteous)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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Given the important position that the Wilburn Brothers occupy in country music history - as performers and recording artists, hosts of one of the most famous of the many country music television shows that popped up in the 1960s, and as players on the business side - it is somewhat astonishing that, apart from a compilation or two, none of their recordings have been reissued on CD.

This release from British reissue label Righteous begins to rectify that state of affairs. It pairs the brothers' first two LPs - 1957's "The Wilburn Brothers - Teddy And Doyle" and "Side By Side," which followed a year later - and adds four non-album singles (three of them charting) from the same period.

The Wilburns began recording for Decca in 1954, and, but for a couple of last gasps, remained on that label for the entirety of a career that lasted more than 20 years and produced more than 20 albums. The sound of these initial LPs is typical '50s country: spare arrangements of steel guitar (non-pedal), tinkling honky tonk piano, electric guitar and, here and there, a bit of fiddle. Their repertoire extends beyond a handful of their own compositions to covers of genre hits present and past, old show tunes and traditional fare. For the most part, the style is bouncy, uptempo honky tonk supplemented by a healthy amount of western swing. At the center of it all is what made Teddy and Doyle distinctive - the hand-in-glove singing and harmonizing of one of the most enduring brother acts in country.