Once upon a time, Charlie and Ira Loudermilk ditched their hilarious last name, took up the ‘Louvin’ mantle and produced one of the most bizarre, ironic and successful Christian Country albums of all time. Ira Louvin/Loudermilk had an aesthetic vision: two car-salesman lookalikes in powder white suits manically flourishing their jazz hands under the watchful eyes of a 12-foot plywood Satan, heaps of tires blazing just out of sight nearby – the ultimate simulation of Hell. This, friends, is 1959’s Satan Is Real.
Charlie and Ira wrote twelve evangelical songs ranging in title from “Are You Afraid to Die?” to “Satan’s Jeweled Crown”, beating Metal to the satanic album-title punch by a cool two decades. Ira, for one, lived every minute of it: from his reputation for alcoholism to that one time he was shot three times (in the back!) for abusing one of his (many!) wives, he ensured that the irony flows pretty thick in Satan Is Real. This is evangelical country at its most effective, iconic and hilariously ironic. Johnny Cash was a big fan.
We like Satan Is Real because it is astounding – seriously, look at that cover.
Originally published in The Peak, February 2011.