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  The Greatest Knoxville Records of All Time

The 1970s

Amazing Rhythm Aces
Stacked Deck

I was in elementary school when this came out. We had this way cool, quasi hippie student teacher who told me and one of my friends that the song "Third Rate Romance" was about Knoxville and that it was somehow risqué.

Being sharp kids we immediately set about finding out the lyrics and what they meant. We were on to the ways of the world, and we already knew what people did at cheap motels. The funny thing is, we thought the words were, "They went to the Quality Inn, she didn't even have to pretend, she didn't know what part," as if the female in the song didn't know the biological mechanics of what people do at cheap motels. That made it even better for us.

Sparky Rucker
Heroes and Hard Times
(Green Linnet Records)

Sparky Rucker is the quintessential roving troubadour. He's played all over the world like a modern-day Woody Guthrie, Knoxville-style—or Lonas Road style, if you will. (Sparky grew up on Lonas Road.) He's a great storyteller and the stories are told both in and between his songs. Not only a great writer, Rucker also does valid reworkings of folk classics on his various recordings. This may be his best one, though I also favor Cold and Lonesome on a Train, which is one of the best blues-folk records of recent memory. His Laurel Theater shows are always a much-anticipated treat as well.

Brother Oswald
Brother Oswald

Beecher Ray Kirby, Pete Kirby, Os, Bashful Brother Oswald...However you choose to say it, it means one thing: a legend. From his trademark orange hat to his baggy overalls, there's only one Oswald. Getting his start as a member of Roy Acuff's Crazy Tennesseans in 1939, Os has been blazing a trail ever since. Acuff hadn't been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for quite a year when most of his band quit and headed back home to East Tennessee. Acuff then came back home as well, and hired Os and two others to take back to Nashville and fill out his band. The Sevier County native became the cornerstone of Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys for over 50 years. This incredible solo project is a prime example of why Os is and always will be remembered as one of the legends of the resophonic guitar world. This record, originally released in 1972 (and now on CD) is a textbook for dobro players wanting to hear it all done the right way. From the Hawaiian number "Island March" to the classic "Wabash Cannonball," Os, along with Campbell County native and fellow Smoky Mountain Boy Charlie Collins, Norman Blake, and Blount County resident Tut Taylor recorded a classic dobro album that even Os declared as "my favorite solo project."