Essential viewing - absolutely phenomenal!
The Delite Rancher | Phoenix, Arizona | 12/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Sixteen Tons: Rare Performances 1946-1981, Vol. 2" features Merle Travis at his best. Most of these old-time cats have a golden decade when they scored all their hits and the rest of their career was downhill. The epiphany with "Rare Performances" is the documentation of Travis' consistent quality with respect to his singing, playing and song writing. The program shows Travis between 1946 and 1981. Heavy on the Western music, the six songs with the Soundies group feature 'videos' from 1946. It is breathtaking to see him backed by a full five piece all female group. This is vintage Western music as it's finest. Just as compelling is the 1957 Ranch Party that shows Travis on solo electric and acoustic guitar. It is here that his signature finger picking style is most evident. Foreshadowing Junior Brown style pyrotechnics, 'Wildwood Flower' features spellbinding work between Merle Travis, Joe Maphis and child guitar wizard Larry Collins. The Porter Wagoner show (1967-1971) introduces the color performances. While the introduction of color TV marked the end of the golden era for most of Travis' peers, he somehow managed to keep his music just as compelling. If 1979's Nashville Swing showed Travis in a different musical environment, the last segment shows a home recording of Travis jamming with Thom Bresh. A few years away from the inevitable, Travis still shines. The audio is excellent while the video quality varies. The video quality is a bit fuzzy on some of the early material, but its well worth it. In terms of songs, all of the expected classics are here from 'Dark as a Dungeon,' and 'Nine Pound Hammer' to 'Cannonball Rag' and a saddlebag of cowboy tunes. While Merle Travis' music speaks for itself, there's something about his contagious stage presence that must be seen to be appreciated. His human warmth and personality must be seen to be felt. It's baffling that this DVD seems to fly under the radar. "Rare Performances" is not only essential viewing for Travis fans but all lovers of real Country and Western."