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NEWSLETTER #142
Country, Bluegrass & Old Timey
Buz Butler -> James Roberts & Martha Carson
 

 

 

NEW DVDS

 
NOTE: Unless otherwise noted all DVDs offered are in NTSC format which means that they will not play on a European DVD players unless you have a multiple format player.
 
 
WILLIE NELSON New West 8021 Live From Austin, Texas ● DVD $17.98
The country giant recorded live in September 1990 with a band including the legendary Grady Martin on guitar plus Bobbie Nelson/ pianos, Paul English/ drums and others. Includes Whiskey River/ Good Hearted Woman/ If You've Got The Money I've Got The Time/ help Me make It Through the Night/ Loving her was Easier/ Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain and others including two duets with Shelby Lynne.

 
BILLY JOE SHAVER New West 8022 Live From Austin, Texas ● DVD $17.98
The great country singer and songwriter filmed in 1984 with a small group including his brilliant son Eddy on guitar. Includes Ride Me Down easy/ Willy The Wandering Gypsy And Me/ Woman Is The Wonder Of The World/ Sweet Mama/ Fit To Kill And Going Out Of Style/ I'm Just An Old Chunk Of Coal/ Old Five And Dimers Like Me, etc.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Immortal 940064 Happy Rovin' Cowboy ● DVD $19.98
DVD, color, 28 tracks, 80 min., fans only
It may very well be possible to look more uncomfortable and forced on camera that Jimmy Wakely does here, but I wouldn't bet on it. On these late 1960s teevee spots, everyone here was apparently required to lip sync his songs and pretend to play the music that was really being piped in. That's why the electric guitar on the Sons Of The Pioneers' title track isn't plugged in anywhere. That's why a dozen instruments can be heard when only two or three are seen. Low points include Rex Allen lip syncing on Summer Night's Rain, the timing of which is off to a regrettable degree; and Tex Ritter's recitation (with music) called Conversation With A Gun, in which teevee producers have superimposed a photo of a gun that floats as it waxes and wanes in size. It would be wrong to call it a "special" effect. The good news is that the singing and music are generally quite good, but this is a DVD. (JC)

 
TONY JOE WHITE New West 8020 Live From Austin, Tx. ● DVD $17.98
14 tracks, color, 63 min., recommended
Recorded on December 5, 1980, early in the life of the Austin City Limits television program, this concert finds White singing, playing guitar, and harmonica: a one man power trio. He's joined by drummer Jeff hale and bass player Steve Spear, and that's it. White plays favorites, including his own Rainy Night In Georgia, Polk Salad Annie and others, as well as songs less likely to be widely distributed, such as Even Trolls Love Rock N Roll, an excuse for guitar pyrotechnics, and the throw away I Came Here To Party. The three song acoustic set White performs alone is more than enough reason to see this show, that and the opener Mama Don't Let Your Cowboys Grow Up To Be Babies. A great songwriter and no stranger to the guitar, White has some rough edges (his singing, for example), but his fans wouldn't have it any other way. (JC)

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
THE CARTER FAMILY King 3811 Inducted In the Hall Of fame, 1970 ● CD $8.98
10 tracks, 30 minutes, recommended
The Original Carter Family (A.P., Sara and Maybelle) were, suitably, the first artists to be inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame. King Records has instituted its Country Music Hall Of Fame series of CDs with this CD featuring ten of the Carter's classics. This is a no frills collection, with some minor liner notes on the back, and not much else. The tracks are their best known, with no obscurities included, but they have been remastered nicely and sound as fresh as ever and the price is certainly right, especially for those looking for an introduction to the Carter Family who might appreciate this distilled "best of" collection. (JM)

 
ERNIE CHAFFIN Bear Family 16780 Laughin' & Jokin' - The Sun Years ● CD $21.98
The complete Sun recordings of this fine and distinctive country singer recorded in 1957 and 1958. It includes his eight issued sides including his classic Lonesome For My Baby and Laughin' And Jokin' along with alternate takes, unissued songs and demos. Most of the latter are being reissued for the first time.

 
PATSY CLINE Empire Musicwerks 450 815-2 50 Golden Greats - The Complete Early Years ● CD $19.98
Two CD set with 50 tracks presenting all the recordings made for Bill McCall's Four Star label between 1955 and 1960 including her first hits Walkin' After Midnight and A Poor Man's Riches which were distributed through Decca who picked up her contract in 1960 leading to the most succesful period of her career. The Four Star sessions features musicians like Owen and Harold Bradley, Don Helms, Tommy Jackson, Grady Martin and others and features some of her most soulful material. Many of the tracks have a bluesy or western swing flavor and a number like Gotta Lot Of Rhythm In My Soul border on rock 'n' roll. This set has been remastered from the original mastertapes.

 
DAVID ALLAN COE Shout Factory 36858 Penitentiary Blues ● CD $18.98
11 criminally good tracks sentenced to 30 minutes of hard time, recommended
This is a re-issue of the notorious first album by David Allan Coe given the full treatment with all the bells and whistles. Re-mastered, beautifully packaged with great liner notes in the extensive booklet as well as a bonus booklet, "How To Pull Time And Parole," excerpted from Coe's book "Ex-Convict." This isn't the name-dropping hell-raising long-haired redneck David Allan Coe that most are familiar with; this is a bluesy (heavy on the Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley) hell-raising long-haired redneck fresh out of prison and sleeping in a hearse across the street from the Grand Ole Opry David Allan Coe. This record was a love letter to the blues and a hate letter to the prison system and, for the most part, still holds up pretty well today. (JM)

 
COWBOY COPAS B.A.C.M. 164 Volume 2 - An Old Farm For Sale ● CD $13.98
B.A.C.M.'s second collection of this singer features 24 sides recorded between 1945 and 1955 - just about all making their first apperance on CD. Includes a duet with Kathy Copas (Copy Cat) and a track from the movie "Square Dance Jubilee" (Blue Pacific Waltz).
COWBOY COPAS: A Heartbreak Ago/ A Package Of Lies Tied In Blue/ An Old Farm For Sale/ An Old Man's Story/ As Advertised/ Ashamed Of Myself/ Blue Pacific Waltz/ Blue Yesterday/ Copy Cat/ Don't Let The Deal Go Down/ Golden Moon/ Goodbye Sweetheart Goodbye/ Gun Totin' Mama/ Heartbroken/ I'll Pay The Price The Rest Of My Life/ I'm A Stranger In My Home/ If You But Care/ It's Wrong To Love You Like I Do/ Listen To My Heart/ Pledging My Love/ Signed Sealed Then Forgotten/ Those Gone And Left Me Blues/ Three Strikes And You're Out/ Would Be Better For Us Both

 
THE DINNING SISTERS Cattle 322 Sweethearts Of Sun Bonnet Swing ● CD $18.98
20 tracks, recommended
CD issue of Cattle LP 96. 20 songs recorded for radio transcriptions in 1942 by this popular close harmony trio. The Dinning Sisters career included recording both pop and country material and although stylistically their performances are only tangential to country they were very popular on the National Barn Dance out of Chicago in the 40s and it must be admitted that their performances of western and country classics do have quite a bit of charm. Songs include Down In The Diving Bell/ Ridin' Down In The Canyon/ San Antonio Rose Sweethearts/ I'm Sorry Now/ I Wonder Where You Are Tonight , etc. They are accompanied by a small group of NBVC studio musicians which includes, among others, the brilliant guitarist George Barnes whose playing illuminates several of the tracks here. (FS)
THE DINNING SISTERS: Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie/ Down In The Divin' Bell/ Farther Along/ Home On The Range/ I Wonder Where You Are Tonight/ I'm Sorry Now/ In The Pines/ Let's Draw Straws/ Mornin' On The Farm/ No Letter Today/ Nobody Answered Me/ Oh Monah!/ Ridin' Down The Canyon/ San Antonio Rose/ Sweethearts Or Strangers/ The Gospel Cannonball/ The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine/ Trouble In Mind/ Turn Your Radio On/ When The Bloom Is On The Sage

 
MERLE HAGGARD Acrobat ACRCD 104 Workin' Man Blues - Live! ● CD $10.98
20 tracks 64 minutes, highly recommended
Fantastic live collection from the greatest living country singer, comprised mostly of Haggard originals with a couple of Bob wills gems thrown in as well as a rawkus version of the Ida Red. The set was recorded in front a lively crowd in the late 80's at the popular "Church Street Station" US TV show. As usual, Merle is in great voice backed by a stellar band, tight enough to bounce a quarter off of. (JM)
MERLE HAGGARD: A Soldier's Last Letter/ Big City/ Faded Love/ Fightin' Side Of Me/ Folsom Prison Blues/ Ida Red/ If You Want To Be My Woman/ Mama Tried/ Medley - Blain Cloudy Blues / Milk Cow Blues/ Okie From Muskogee/ Ramblin Fever/ San Antonio Rose/ T.B. Blues/ Take Me Back To Tulsa/ That's The Way Love Goes/ The Bottle Let Me Down/ Today I Started Loving You Again/ Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star/ What Am I Gonna Do (With The Rest Of My Life)/ Workin' Man Blues

 
MERLE HAGGARD Hag 005 Haggard Like Never Before ● CD $17.98
11 tracks, 31 min, recommended
Originally issued in 2003 but not reviewed before. 2004's "If I Could Only Fly" CD was the best that Merle Haggard had put out in a couple decades. This release, on the Hag's own Hag Records, is a couple notches below that one, but it's still chock full of really good songs. I had the pleasure of seeing Merle Haggard live recently, opening up for Bob Dylan and I thought he (and his band) were still fantastic. In fact I will even go so far as to say that night they were far better than Dylan. The man is still in fine voice and still writes great songs full of two-fisted heartache and pissed off politics. Lets hope that old Merle has at least few more of these homemade gems lined up; he definitely seems to be on an artistic roll. (JM)

 
STUART HAMBLEN B.A.C.M. 163 Old Glory ● CD $13.98
24 tracks recorded between 1948 and 1955 by this popular singer, songwriter and presidential candidate (he ran on the Prohibition Party ticket in 1952) whose recording career dated back to the 30s. It includes his original hit recordings of two songs that have become country standards - It Is No Secret and This Old House. All but three of the songs are Hamblen originals and are a mix of sacred and secular songs including My Old Hound Dog/ Pony Express Pride Of the Golden West/ Our Old captain Ain't A Man/ I Get Lonesome Like Nobody Knows/ Just Let Me Love You/ Old Pappy's New Banjo/ My Religion's Not Old Fashioned/ I've Got So many Million years, etc. Arrangements are pretty much pop with strings rather than fiddles and vocal choruses rather than country harmonies. Includes two duets with Martha Carson.
STUART HAMBLEN: A Handful Of Sunshine/ Ace In The Hole/ Black Diamond/ Friends I Know/ I Believe/ I Get Lonesome Like Nobody Knows/ I've Got So Many Million Years/ It Is No Secret/ Just A Man/ Just Let Me Love You/ Lonesome Valley/ Lord I Can't Come Now/ My Old Hound Dog/ My Religion's Not Old Fashioned/ Old Glory/ Old Pappy's New Banjo/ Ole Pappy Time Is A Pickin' My Pockets/ Our Anniversary/ Our Old Captain Ain't A Man/ Please Tell Me Why/ Pony Express Pride Of The Golden West/ This Ole House/ When My Lord Picks Up The Phone/ You're Always Brand New

 
JAMES HAND Rounder 3241 The Truth Will Set You Free! ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 38 min., highly recommended
Hand sounds as if the spirit of Hank Williams either lives inside him or at the very least next door. His vocals and song writing both recall his royal Hankness--not that he's unpleasantly derivative or merely putting on an act. His song writing is impressive, with lyrics that feel born out of a hard-lived life. Such songs as When You Stopped Loving Me So Did I offer a fresh look at an age-old problem. And with some excellent guitar support from Redd Volkaert, Will Indian, and Lloyd Maines, the songs sparkle. A nice slice of country music the way it sounded before it became Nashvillian pop with cowboy props. (JC)

 
AUTRY INMAN Cattle 324 Great Hillbilly Classics ● CD $18.98
28 tracks, 67 mins, recommended
Excellent collection of honky tonk featuring this talented singer and songwriter from Alabama. The opening couple of cuts are great country boogie sides with hot guitar from Hank Garland. The next 16 tracks are fine honky tonkers - many of them written by Autry himself. The remaining tracks are fine duets in the Johnnie & Jack mould with Floyd Robinson which were issued under the name Jack & Daniel. Good stuff! (FS)
AUTRY INMAN: (i'm So In Love) Don't Put It Off/ A Dear John Letter/ A Friend/ All Of A Sudden/ Brown Eyed Baby/ Does Your Sweetheart Seem Different Lately?/ Double Crossed/ Finally I'm Free/ I Hope Tomorrow Never Comes/ I'll Miss My Heart/ It Hurts Too Much To Cry/ It May Be/ It's A Shame/ Little One/ Once More/ Stop Stallin' (start Fallin' In Love)/ That's All Right/ You Got To Leave These Other Guys Alone/ JACK & DANIEL: All Hope Is Gone/ Don't Make Love In A Buggy ('cause Horses Carry Tails)/ Every Day We're Apart/ Forget The Deal/ I Couldn't Keep From Crying/ I Love You Darling (i Do)/ Knothole/ Satisfied With You/ Tennessee Tango/ Throwing Water On The Flame

 
SMILIN' JERRY JERICHO Cattle 321 Boogie Woogie Dance ● CD $18.98
26 tracks, 70 mins, recommended
26 tracks recorded between 1948 and 1952 by this fine singer from Houston, Texas accompanied by his band The Texas Cowboys. Though popular and fairly prolific Jericho had no hits. As sleeve note writer Kevin Coffey notes Jericho was more of an interpreter than originator and most of his songs were covers of other artists songs though his interpretations were very fine. Includes There'll Com A Time/ I'm Cravin' Lovin'/ I Know I'll Find Another Way/ I Almost Lost My Mind (a fine cover of the Ivory Joe Hunter hit)/ I'll Sail My Ship Alone/ Let's Try It Over Again/ Wagon Load Of Love/ Lovesick Blues/ Boogie Woogie Dance (a fine cover of the Johnny Barfield song though credited to Jericho with some fine steel guitar by Dusty Stewart)/ I Can't face The Future All Alone/ Three Little Girls Dressed In Blue and others. (FS)
SMILIN' JERRY JERICHO: Boogie Woogie Dance/ Fools Rush In/ Gambling Polka Dot Blues/ I Almost Lost My Mind/ I Can't Face The Future All Alone/ I Know I'll Find Another Way/ I Loved And Lost/ I'll Sail My Ship Alone/ I'm A Hopeless Heartless Fool/ I'm Cravin' Lovin'/ Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide/ Let's Try It Over Again/ Lovesick Blues/ Mexico Rose/ Please Don't Let Me Love You/ Ragged But Right/ Sleepin' At The Foot Of The Bed/ Take Your Time/ There'll Come A Time/ Three Little Girls Dressed In Blue/ Wagon Load Of Love/ Who's Kiddin' Who/ Why Don't You Haul Off And Love Me/ You Played The Game And Lost/ You're A Bad Little Girl/ You've Learned Up On Your Lovin' (voc. Plus Polly White)

 
GEORGE JONES Intesound 51978 The Legend Live! ● CD $15.98
CD/DVD combination, 9 tracks each, color, recommended The greatest living country singer in good form filmed live at the Cheyenne Saloon in Orlando, Florida sometime in the early/mid 80s in front of an enthusiastic audience. Set is far too short but every track is a winner - No Show Jones/ I Always Get Lucky With You/ Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes/ She's My Rock and, of course, the ultimate tearjerker He Stopped Loving Her Today. CD content is identical to DVD. (FS)

 
KRIS KRISTOFFERSON New West 6098 Live From Austin, Texas ● CD $16.98

 
BILL MONROE & HIS BLUEGRASS BOYS Music Mill 71007 Mansions For Me ● CD $9.98
Lovely collection of 10 gospel songs drawn from the recordings Bill & Bluegrass Boys made for Columbia in 1946 and '47. Includes Mansions For Me/ Mother's Only Sleeping/ The Old Cross Road/ Remember The Cross/ Shine Hallelujah, etc.

 
WILLIE NELSON New West 6094 Live From Austin, Texas ● CD $16.98
See under DVD.

 
MARVIN RAINWATER B.A.C.M. 162 Tennessee Houn' Dog Yodel ● CD $13.98
Fascinating collection of 27 sides by this fine and idiosyncratic country singer. 15 of the tracks are demos recorded in 1953/54 featuring Marvin on a wide range of material - mostly self composed including the great rockabilly flavored Gotta Go Get My Baby that Marvin recorded commercially some years later. The remaining sides are commercial recordings made in 1955/56 including the title song plus Albino Pink Eyed Stallion/ Dem Low Down Blues/ Where Do We Go From her/ Hot And Cold and others.
MARVIN RAINWATER: Albino Pink Eyed Stallion/ Boy And The Engineer/ Daddy's Glad You Came Home/ Dem Low Down Blues/ Do You Want To Know/ Don't Tell My Boy I'm In Prison/ Don't Try To Change Your Little Woman/ Engineer's Song/ Freight Train Blues/ Get Off The Stool/ Hot And Cold/ I Gotta Go Get My Baby/ Key/ Korea's Mountain Northland/ Moments Of Love/ Mr Blues/ Sometimes I Feel Like Leaving Town/ Tainted Gold/ Tea Bag Romeo/ Teardrops/ Tennessee Houn' Dog Yodel/ Wanderer In Me/ What Am I Supposed To Do/ What You Got You Don't Want/ Where Do We Go From Here/ Why Did You Have To Go And Leave Me Lonesome Blues/ Would Your Mother Be Proud Of You/ You Just Can't Keep A Secret

 
JAMES ROBERTS & MARTHA CARSON B.A.C.M. 161 I'm Gonna Let It Shine ● CD $13.98
24 tracks, 65 mins, essential
A most welcome reissue which could have been even better. Kentucky born James Roberts was a superb singer and instrumentalist - the son of fiddler Doc Roberts he recorded extensively in the 30s with his father and with Asa Martin as well as under his own name. In the late 30s he met up and coming singer and songwriter Irene Amburgey who worked under the stage name of Martha Carson and they married in 1939 and subsequently started performing as a vocal duo with James on mandolin and Martha on guitar. They appeared on the WSB Barndance in Atlanta where they became known as Barndance Sweethearts. In the mid 40s they started recorded for the small White Church label and this CD features eight of these beautiful sides - just James & Martha with their guitar and mandolin accompaniment on a selection of gospel songs mostly written by James including the superb Budded On Earth To Bloom In Heaven and I Ain't Got Time. They subsequently joined Capitol with a series of songs in the same mould. Their later Capitol sides featured a hand clapping vocal chorus which gave their music a different feel but was remarkably effective and includes one of their greatest performances - a spellbinding rendition of the old favorite I'll Fly Away plus a superb version of Hank Williams' I'm Gonna Sing, Sing, Sing and the wonderful We Will Rise And Shine featuring tremendous mandolin playing by James. In 1951 the duo divorced and Martha struck out on her own having an immediate hit with her own song Satisfied and became an established solo gospel singer and songwriter with a powerful style and was featured with Elvis on one of his early tours. She is featured on four songs here which are fine but have a different mood to the duo sides. If it were up to me I would have included all the James & Martha duets. Still what we have here is tremendous. Brian Chalker's notes dwell on Martha's career at great length with James given little space even though he was vital to most of the music here. (FS)
JAMES ROBERTS & MARTHA CARSON: Budded On Earth To Bloom In Heaven/ City On The Hill/ Crossing Over Jordan/ Don't Sell Him Anymore Drink/ Gotta A Little Light/ He Will Set Your Fields On Fire/ He'll Part The Water/ Heaven's Jubilee/ I Ain't Got Time/ I Bowed Down/ I Wanna Rest/ I'll Fly Away/ I'm Gonna Let It Shine/ I'm Gonna Sing Sing Sing/ Living In The Promised Land/ Man Of Galilee/ Old Blind Barnabuss/ Salvation Has Been Brought Down/ Shining City/ Sweetest Gift A Mother's Smile/ There's An Open Door Waiting For Me/ We Will Rise And Shine/ When God Dips His Love In My Heart/ When He Heard My Plea

 

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