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Louvin Brothersthe Louvin Brothers played a dual role in country music's evolution following World War II. On one hand, their close, Appalachian harmonies linked country to its humble past. On the other, they provided a blueprint for a number of nascent rock acts, most notably the Everly Brothers. While the Louvins recorded several secular classics ("If I Could Only Win Your Love"), but they are best remembered for their fervent gospel sides. In a perfect world, Christmas With The Louvin Brothers (1961) would fall into this category, since it consists exclusively of religious carols like "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" rather than secular tunes like "Jingle Bells."

Sadly, such is not the case. While not a bad record, Christmas With The Louvin Brothers isn't the home run one might expect. Ira and Charlie sound oddly uninspired - perhaps the birth of their savior wasn't as compelling as the eternal fires of hell (c.f. Satan Is Real). Students as astute as Emmylou Harris evidently listened to this record (and others) by the Louvin Brothers, but most of these tracks sound darn near rote. (Christmas With The Louvin Brothers was originally issued with a different cover; for reasons I have yet to discern, many sources list the album as "Country Christmas.")

As the Lovin Brothers' career declined following the rise of rock & roll, Ira took to drink and fell from grace. He died in 1965, two years after the duo split. Charlie soldiered on, eventually assuming the well-deserved status of elder statesman of country music. In 1997, Razor & Tie reissued Christmas With The Louvin Brothers as a companion to their excellent retrospective, When I Stop Dreaming: The Best of The Louvin Brothers (1995). The CD rearranges the cover art while appending both sides of the brothers' 1960 stab at a secular holiday single. The a-side, "It's Christmas," is fine, while the b-side, "Santa's Big Parade," is so awful it's good - and unintentionally hilarious!

Finally, well before they recorded Christmas With The Louvin Brothers, Charlie and Ira performed on maudlin medley called "Shut-In At Christmas/Shut-In's Prayer" in 1952 as part of their regualr radio broadcast called "Songs That Tell A Story" on WZOB in Fort Payne, Alabama. In 1978, Rounder Records released it on a LP also called Songs That Tell A Story (reissued on CD in 1991). The song also appears on Rounder's Christmas compilation, Must Be Santa (1995). The Louvin Brothers apparently never recorded the song for commercial release, but much later Charlie Louvin recorded a solo version of "Shut-In At Christmas" for Grand Ole Christmas (1998) on a label called Rejoice Music of Nashville. [top of page]

Albums Albums


  • The First Noel (1961)
  • It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (1961)
  • It's Christmas Time (1960)
  • Santa's Big Parade (1960)
  • Shut-In At Christmas/Shut-In's Prayer (1952)

Further ListeningFurther Listening

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