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Bulletin - September 2008
Country, Bluegrass & Old Timey
Bobby Bare -> Various Artists + Book, DVDS

 

 
 

NEW BOOK

 

WORKING GIRL BLUES The Life And Music Of Hazel Dickens by Hazel Dickens & Bill C. Malone ● BOOK $16.98
102 pages, paperback, counts as two CDs for shipping
Hazel Dickens is an Appalachian singer and songwriter known for her superb musicianship, feminist country songs, union anthems, and blue-collar laments. Growing up in a West Virginia cola mining community, she drew on the mountain music and repertoire of her family and neighbors when establishing her own vibrant and powerful vocal style that is a trademark in old-time, bluegrass, and traditional country circles. A part of the Music in American Life series of books, Working Girl Blues presents forty original songs that Dickens wrote about coal mining, labor issues, personal relationships, and her life and family in Appalachia. While Dickens includes comments on each of her songs-explaining how she came to write them and what they meant and continue to mean to her-Bill C. Malone's introduction traces Dickens's life, musical career, and development as a songwriter. The book also features forty-one illustrations and a detailed discography of her commercial recordings.

 

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.
 
MARTY ROBBINS Shout Factory 10878 Legendary Performances ● DVD $14.98
15 songs + interview, 80 mins, black & white and color, highly recommended
Between the mid 50s and his premature death in 1982 Marty Robbins was one of the most popular and beloved country artists with almost 100 county chart hits. This fine collection features a selection of live perfomances from various television shows filmed between 1957 and 1979 and features performances of some of his most famous songs including Knee Deep In The Blues/ Singing The Blues/ El Paso/ My Woman, My Woman, My Wife/ A White Sport Coat And A Pink Carnation (a fine 1977 version of his 1957 his)/ Don't Worry and more. Bonuses include a fascinating interview from March 1982 and his induction into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in October, 1982 - just a couple of months before his death of a heart attack. Excellent video and sound quality and booklet has biographical notes and notes on the performances. (FS)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Awake 2 Awake, Soul - The Story Of The Sacred Harp ● DVD $25.98
"Awake My Soul" is a 75 minute documentary from 2006 narrated by country singer Jim Lauderdale about Sacred Harp singing, a haunting form of acapella shape-note singing with deep roots in the American south. The film offers a glimpse into the lives of the singers and the history of this "Lost Tonal Tribe" whose story is one of both rebellion and tradition. THis double DVD includes over four hours of bonus features including deleted scene from the original movie, extended interviews and more than 2 hours of Sacred Harp Singing footage filmed between 1998 and 2006.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Stomper Time DVD 4 Hillbillies On TV ● DVD $27.98
More amazing live country music from vintage TV shows made available on DVD thanks to the good folks at Stomper Time. These recordings are from 1957 and '58 performances on the Ozark Jubilee which was the first nationally syndicated TV show emanating from Columbia, Missouri. The first 20 tracks on this DVD features clips from the shows and the remaining 8 tracks comprise a complete unedited show. Among the performers featured are Red Foley, Roy Acuff, Roy Lanham, Jimmy Riddle, Howdy Forrester & "Bashful" Brother Oswald, Frankie Miller, Rex Allen, Brenda Lee, Sonny James and others.

 
TAMMY WYNETTE Shout Factory 10976 Legendary Performances ● DVD $14.98
15 songs + bonus material, color and black & white, 65 mins, highly recommended
Great collection of live performances from between 1967 and 1981 by one of the most popular female singers of the time with her distinctive emotion drenched vocal star. It opens with a great cover of Loretta Lynn's Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind) accompanied by The Stoneman Family from the Stoneman's TV show in 1967. The rest is all Tammy's own hits including several terrific duets with her third husband George Jones. It includes one of her most famous songs D-I-V-O-R-C-E from the CMA Awards Show in 1968 (the only black & white segment) plus Stand By Your Man/ Woman To Woman/ Golden Ring/ We're Gonna Hold On (both with George) and more. Bonus features include a couple of brief interviews, her induction into the Country Music Hall Of Fame and footage of Tammy's wedding to George Richey in 1976. (FS)

 
 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
BOBBY BARE & THE FAMILY Omni 116 Singin' In The Kitchen ● CD $17.98
28 tracks, 78 mins, recommended
Omni records seems to be on a quest to put out all of the old Country music records from the '60s and '70s that you thought NOBODY would ever put out again. So that said, here is Bobby Bare's children's record combined with his Gospel record from 1967, "This I Believe," plus a few rare singles and album tracks. Bobby Bare fans will be in for a real treat, as well as Shel Silverstein fans, and pretty much any fans of oddball - outlaw country. I'm not going to say that Bare is such a transcendent artist that most grown ups will want to sit around and listen to his children's songs, but how many kids songs have lines about drinking beer and accidentally getting gravy on your guitar strings? I guess if you are a big fan of Bobby Bare Jr., then this has a special appeal since I assume this is some of his earliest work and he is seen smearing food on his face on the cover. The Gospel and various other tracks will be more appealing to those who aren't kids or smart-ass radio DJs. Good stuff, glad to see compilations like this coming out on strong labels that are going to give you extensive notes and great sound. (JM)

 
JOHNNY CASH Charly SNAJ 741 The Complete Sun Masters ● CD $22.98
Three CDS, 100 tracks, 3 hrs 45 mins, essential
The most comprehensive overview of the Sun recordings of one of the greatest country artists of the 20th century. Together with The Tennessee Two (Luther Perkins/ guitar and Marshall Grant/ string bass) they overcame their technical limitations to give Cash what turned out to be one of the most distinctive styles in country music and turned out one timless classic after another. This set features both sides of every single issued by Sun during Johnny's tenure at Sun (1954-1958) as well as singles issued after he left the label to join Columbia plus tracks found after the label was acquired by Shelby Singleton in 1969. A number of his hits were overdubbed with additional instrumentation and choruses when issued on LP and this set includes both the original and overdubbed versions. It includes undubbed versions that were originally only issued in overdubbed form and the undubbed versions are almost inevitably more exciting. It also includes the best of the alternate takes available, demos, studio chatter and a couple of performances that only exist in incomplete form. The performances have been sequenced for enjoyment rather discographical purposes and copmes with a 36 page booklet with biographical info and a discussion of every track. (FS)
JOHNNY CASH: Always Alone/ Ballad Of A Teenage Queen/ Ballad Of A Teenage Queen (alternate version)/ Belshazar (overdubbed)/ Belshazar (undubbed)/ Big River/ Big River (alternate with false start)/ Blue Train/ Born To Lose/ Brakeman's Blues (incomplete)/ Cold Cold Heart/ Come In Stranger/ Country Boy/ Country Boy (demo)/ Cry Cry Cry/ Cry Cry Cry (alternate version)/ Doin' My Time/ Doin' My Time (1) (alternate version)/ Don't Make Me Go/ Don't Make Me Go (alternate version)/ Down The Street To 301/ Down The Street To 301 (alternative version)/ Folsom Prison Blues/ Folsom Prison Blues (alternate version)/ Folsom Prison Blues (overdubbed)/ Fool's Hall Of Fame/ Get Rhythm/ Get Rhythm (microphone check)/ Give My Love To Rose (overdubbed)/ Give My Love To Rose (undubbed)/ Goodbye Litle Darlin'/ Goodnight Irene (overdubbed)/ Goodnight Irene (undubbed)/ Guess Things Happen That Way/ Hey Good Lookin'/ Hey Good Lookin' (undubbed)/ Hey Porter/ Home Of The Blues/ I Can't Help I (If I'm Still In Love With You)/ I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You) (undubbed)/ I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You/ I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You (undubbed)/ I Couldn't Keep From Crying/ I Forgot To Remember To Forget/ I Forgot To Remember To Forget (incomplete alternate version)/ I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow/ I Just Thought You'd Like To Know/ I Just Thought You'd Like To Know (undubbed)/ I Love You Because/ I Love You Because (undubbed)/ I Walk The Line/ I Walk The Line (alternate version)/ I Walk The Line (overdubbed)/ I Was There When It Happened/ I Was There When It Happened (alternate version)/ If The Good Lord's Willing/ If The Good Lord's Willing (alternate version)/ It's Just About Time/ It's Just About Time (alternate version)/ Katy Too/ Leave That Junk Alone (demo)/ Life Goes On/ Luther Played The Boogie/ Mean Eyed Cat/ My Treasure/ My Treasure (alternate version)/ New Mexico (overdubbed)/ New Mexico (undubbed)/ Next In Line/ Next In Line (overdubbed)/ Oh Lonesome Me/ One More Ride (incomplete)/ Port Of Lonely Hearts/ Remember Me (I'm The One Who Loves You)/ Rock 'n' Roll Ruby (demo)/ Rock Island Line/ So Doggone Lonesome/ Story Of A Broken Heart/ Story Of A Broken Heart (alternate version with false start and studio chat/ Straight A's In Love/ Sugartime/ Sugartime (alternate version)/ Thanks A Lot/ There You Go/ Train Of Love/ Two Timin' Woman/ Two Timin' Woman (alternate version)/ Ways Of A Woman In Love/ Wide Open Road (demo)/ Wide Open Road (original)/ Wide Open Road (re-recording)/ Wreck Of The Old '97/ Wreck Of The Old '97/ You Tell Me/ You Win Again/ You Win Again (undubbed)/ You're My Baby/ You're My Baby (undubbed)/ You're The Nearest Thing To Heaven/ You're The Nearest Thing To Heaven (undubbed)

 
THE CHUCK WAGON GANG B.A.C.M. 239 Secular And Sacred Songs ● CD $14.98
24 tracks, highly recommended
Though best known for recording gospel songs The Chuck Wagon Gang started their musical career performing secular songs somewhat in the vein of the Carter Family and, ironically, all members of this original family group were also named Carter. The Chuck Wagon Gang originally consisted of a father, son and two daughters. The group had a few changes in the 50s & 60s though the female members of the group Rose Carter Karnes & Anna Carter were with the group throughout their career and new members were usually family members. The two male and two female voices provide for some lovely harmonies accompanying themselves on guitar and occasional mandolin. The first 15 songs here are from the period 1936/37 and are mostly secular including Take Me Back To Renfro Valley/ Carry Me Back To The Mountains/ I'll Be All Smiles Tonight/ The Engineers Child/ Oklahoma Blues/ Texas Star, etc. The remaining sides are from the period 1952 through 1954 by which time the group exclusively performed religious songs. Thanks to improved recording technology the richness of their harmonies is even more impressive and the group had matured too with more imaginative use of vocal interplay on songs like Signs By The Side Of The Road/ I Know My Savior Cares/ We'll Be Happy All The Time/ Love Leads The Way, etc. Lovely music. (FS)
THE CHUCK WAGON GANG: All Gods Children Gonna Rise And Shine/ At The Dawning/ At The Rainbow's End/ Carry Me Back To The Mountains/ Dear Old Sunny South By The Sea/ Echoes From The Hills/ I Know My Saviour Cares/ I Want To Be A Real Cowboy Girl/ I'll Be All Smiles Tonight/ I've A Precious Friend/ I've Changed My Mind/ Love Leads The Way/ O Why Not Tonight/ Oklahoma Blues/ Put My Little Shoes Away/ Signs By The Side Of The Road/ Take Me Back To Col-ler-rad-da Fer To Stay/ Take Me Back To Renfro Valley/ Texas Star/ The Engineer's Child/ The Little Green Mound On The Hill/ We'll Be Happy All The Time/ Will You Love Me When My Hair Has Turned To Silver/ Wonder Valley

 
COWBOY COPAS Bear Family BCD 16990 Settin' Flat On Ready - Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight ● CD $21.98
34 tracks, 86 mins, recommended
Possibly the best track on this CD starts it off, the Hepcat meets Square Dance Circle Dance with its hot playing and cool back up vocals. Cowboy Copas didn't have a very distinctive voice, but he had a knack for picking out quality material. Copas is most famous for dying in the company of Patsy Cline, but don't sell him short. He had a career that started way back in the 1920's and was the star of many radio stations' featured shows in the 1940's. This collection gives you a heaping helping of Cowboy Copas, concentrating on recordings between 1947 - 1963, for the King, Dot, and Starday labels. Usual A+ Bear Family job on notes, sound etc..(JM)

 
STU DAVIS B.A.C.M. 237 Canada's Cowboy Troubadour - Take Me Back To My Boots ● CD $14.98
Fine selection of 25 tracks recorded by this popular and prolific Canadian performer - about half of them written by Davis himself. Davis was a fine singer and the majority of tracks feature him accompanied by one or two guitars and these are the best cuts. Others feature him with a small western group or occasional orchestral accompaniments. It includes his original recording of his own What A Fool I Was which became a hit for Eddy Arnold. Also includes Old And In the Way/ Diggin' With A Hoe/ The Gangster's Warning/ The Little Shirt My Mother Made For Me/ Take Me Back To My Boots & Saddle/ The Dude In The Ten Gallon Hat/ Sheperd Of Mine/ Carrier Pigeon/ Dark As A Dungeon, etc.

 
THE DIXIELAND SWINGSTERS B.A.C.M. 242 Sing A Little Swing Song ● CD $14.98
The entire recorded output (24 tracks) of this group based out of Knoxville, Tennessee who performed a mixture of jazz, novelty songs and jazzy country. The group was led by multi instrumentalist and vocalist Dave Duham with Karl "Buck" Holmes (clarinet, tenor sax and vocal), Larry Downing/ guitar & vocal. There's not a whole lot of country content in the group's performances though this should prove of interest to western swing fans. Includes Swingster's Lullaby/ LOve Me Or Leave Me/ Ferdinand The Bull/ Blue Eyes/ Bennie, The Bumble Bee, Feels Bum/ It's A Lonely Trail/ A New Dress For Ida Red/ Wander Down The Valley, etc. 10 of the tracks are instrumentals.

 
TEX FLETCHER B.A.C.M. 241 The Lonely Cowboy ● CD $14.98
22 tracks, recommended
Charming collection of sides from Western singer and guitarist recorded between 1936 and 1938. Fletcher was born Geremino Bisceglia in New York in 1910 but ran away to join the circus when he was a teenager and travelled throughout the west soaking up cowboy lore and music. His first couple of sessions find him alone with his guitar performing rendition of Western songs like I'm Going Back To Red River Valley and Ridge Runnin' Road along with country favorites like I'm Here To get My Baby Out Of Jail and Mistook In The Woman I Love. His third session included a fine fiddle player and his fourth added a mandolin and finds Tex duetting with vocalist Joe Rogers who later became known as Smokey Rogers. The last two sessions in 1937 and '48 find him with a full western style group (accordion, fiddle, steel guitar, etc) who do a pleasant, if not terribly, exciting job backing Tex. Though nothing here is particularly exciting it's a very appealing selection. (FS)

 
TOM T. HALL Copper Creek 7007 The Magnificent Music Machine ● CD $9.98
11 tracks, 27 mins, highly recommended
This is an older release but hasn't been reviewed before. Tom T. Hall is a Country legend, some would say "Outlaw," but most would agree he's a great artist and songwriter. This is a re-issue of a rather brave outing of Hall's from 1976, when he stepped away from what was making him popular to make an album of all Bluegrass. Unlike today, back in the'70s mainstream Country artists shied away from Bluegrass because it usually didn't sell much. This record was fairly popular, with one single, Fox on the Run (no, not the song by The Sweet) making the top ten on the Country charts. Hall actually wrote most of the material on this, with the exception of Bill Monroe's Molly & The Tenbrooks, for which he got Monroe to come and play mandolin, and Hall's brother Hillman composing Magnificent Music Machine. All in all, a great Bluegrass record, with fantastic players and really strong songwriting--good to see it getting a proper re-issue all these years later. (JM)

 
WANDA JACKSON Bear Family BCD 16848 The Ballads Of Wanda Jackson ● CD $24.98
Though best remembered for her classic rockers recorded in the 50s Wanda started her career singing country music and continued performing country after fairly brief flirtation with rockabilly. This 30 tracks compilation draws tracks from her early/ mid 50s recordings and her country sides of the early 50s focusing on her great ballad singing. Includes The Tip Of My Fingers/ I May Never Get To Heaven/ Sinful Heart/ Little Charm Bracelet/ I'd Rather Have You/ Right Or Wrong/ Don't Ask Me Why/ A Date With Jerry/ Between The Window And The Phone/ Day Dreaming and more.

 
WAYLON JENNINGS DBK Works 126 Last Train To Lubbock ● CD $17.98
14 tracks, 31 mins, highly recommended
Comprised of covers of classic Country, R&R, and Cajun songs from the beginning of Waylon Jennings's career. Not only does the material here pre-date his RCA days, it even pre-dates his brief stint on A&M, his first major label deal. The fidelity on this CD isn't great, probably due the source material. That isn't too big of an obstacle in the way of enjoying it. The Waylon on these recordings isn't quite the raging outlaw Waylon from the '70s, but much closer to the Waylon that played bass for Buddy Holly. In fact, his very first single Jole Blon b/w When Sin Stops (both songs featured here) was produced by Holly and also featured King Curtis on hot sax. The voice is definitely already there, maybe minus a little of the power, but I'm sure any Waylon Jennings fan would love to hear this. Along with the first single you also get his takes on Roy Orbison's Crying, George Jones' White Lightnin', Barret Strong's Money, and even a take on Bob Dylan's Don't Think Twice. Clearly this is a document of an artist full of talent and trying to figure out which direction to go. (JM)

 
THE LOUVIN BROTHERS Golden Stars 5603 Classic Album Collection .. Plus ● CD $19.98
Three CDs, 48 tracks, very highly recommended
This three CD set features the first three LPs issued by the great and influential Ira & Charlie Louvin plus 12 bonus tracks, mostly originally issued as singles. The first disc features their first LP simply titled "The Louvin Brothers" and containing 12 sides originally recorded for MGM in 1951 & '52 - mostly gospel songs including Weapon Of Prayer/ Do You Live What You Preach/I'll Live With God/ The Great Atomic Power and others. The four bonus cuts are drawn from early Capitol sessions including Let Us Travel, Travel On/ Broad Minded, etc. The second disc features their first Capitol album "Tragic Songs Of Life" from 1956 featuring some of their very finest work with the gorgeous Louvin harmonies against an all acoustic backing (except for Paul Yandell's lead guitar). Mostly songs from the 20s and 30s including Kentucky/ Let Her Go, God Bless Her/ A Tiny Broken Heart/ Alabamaa/ Knoxville Girl and a truly spine chilling rendition of In the Pines. Bonus cuts include the magificent and much covered I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby and When I Stop Dreaming. The third disc reissues "Nearer My God To Thee" from 1957 - another all gospel album with a mix of Louvin originals, traditional tunes and Southern gospel favorites. The bonus cuts include more all time Louvin classics - Hoping That You're Hoping/ Cash On The Barrelhead, etc. Unfortunately there are no notes and it's shame that they didn't use the original album artwork. It's all been out before but if you don't already have much Louvins here's a chance to get some of their best work for a modest price. (FS)

 
DEL MCCOURY & FRIENDS Mccoury Music 005 Moneyland ● CD $15.98
16 tracks, 56 mins, highly recommended
Del McCoury thinks that this country might be going to Hell; he at least knows that things are messed up, especially in rural farming communities. He's pissed off and he's gathered some like-minded friends like Merle Haggard and Mac Wiseman to join in and make an excellent record about it. This is a mix of new and old, beginning and ending with clips from FDR's fireside chats and including vintage songs Breadline Blues in a 1932 version (Bernard "Slim" Smith) and 2008 version (McCoury), as well as I Wonder How The Old Folks Are At Home, and When I'm 64 done anew, to name a few. Both solo Haggard tracks are fantastic; an older gem If We Make It Through December, and a powerful newer track What Happened both work well here, as well as a duet with Marty Stuart on Farmer's Blues. McCoury is the leader here and is in fine voice presenting material he is clearly passionate about. Also featured are Emmylou Harris, Chris Knight, Patty Loveless, Bruce Hornsby, Don Tyminski, Tim O' B rian, and Gillian Welch. This is truly a fantastic album and I hope it gets the attention that it deserves. (JM)

 
SAM MOORE EM Records 1040 Moooohieee! Musical Saw & Hawaiian Guitar Soli ● CD $21.98
13 tracks, highly recommended
Japanese import. Now here's something a little different. Sam Moore from Florida was a popular stage performer in the 20s though he didn't record a whole lot and, as far as I know, this is the first time any of his material has been reissued on CD. Moore specialized in performing with offbeat musical instruments - most notably an eight string guitar called an octo-chorda and the musical saw. The latter is an honest to goodness carpenter's saw (though saws specifically designed to play music were also made) which is bent and played with a bow and the resulting sound is eerie and haunting - somewhat like a theremin. It takes real talent to coax music out this instrument and Moore certainly have this talent. About half the tracks here feature musical saw solos including Mother Machree/ Old Black Joe (on this track it sounds like there may be two musical saws harmonizing!)/ Dear Old Pal Of Mine and others while the rest feature him playing his octo-chorda with a slide including his most famous tune Laughing Rag (two different versions) plus I Dream I Dwelt In Marble Halls/ My Old Hawaiian Home, etc. Most cuts feature him accompanied by Horace Davis on harp guitar or piano. Charming, haunting and fascinating - superbly remastered from extremly rare 78s and with extensive notes in Japanese. (FS)

 
WILLIE NELSON Sony Legacy 713915 One Hell Of A Ride ● CD $49.98
4 CDs, 100 tracks, 312 mins, highly recommended
Although physically rather short, Willie Nelson is beyond doubt one of the last true Giants of Country Music. Here we have a hundred of his best recordings in a set that, for the first time, covers all facets of Willie's career. Starting with a late 1954/ early 55 recording (Willie's very first) of When I've Sang My Last Hillbilly Song, and ending 99 tracks later with the grammatically corrected When I've Sung My Last Hillbilly Song, recorded in 2007. The CD goes chronologically throughout his whole career starting with his earliest songs, his versions of the big hits like Nite Life/ Crazy/ Hello Walls/ Funny How Time Slips Away, etc, then hitting his stride as a solo artist: I Gotta Get Drunk/ Family Bible/ Yesterday's Wine/ Me and Paul, then it enters Willie Nelson, the household name phase with hit after hit, solo and duet. Of course there are many Waylon and Willie gems, also fine tracks with Leon Russell, Roger Miller and Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Faron Young, Ray Charles, etc.-- even that Julio Iglesias duet that sold a few records. It ends up in recent days where he has a lot of fine material still, including interesting covers of Jimmy Cliff and Django Reinhardt. This is easily the most comprehensive set ever put out for Willie Nelson; I listened to it all the way through--every single track--and even though I would have preferred a little less keyboard in some of the '80s tracks, I totally enjoyed it all. There are even some great recent songs that could have been included! Where is Cowboys are frequently, secretly (fond of each other), and his cover of Caldonia? Guess they are saving those for the next box set. All wrapped up in beautiful packaging, with extensive booklet featuring tons of rare photos, plus recording info and new essays by Joe Nick Patoski and Mickey Raphael. (JM)

 
JIMMY NEWILL & HIS TEXAS RAMBLERS B.A.C.M. 236 Favorite Cowboy Songs ● CD $14.98
26 tracks from radio transcriptions from this trained vocalist who is best known for his many B-movie roles. With his perfect diction and semi operatic tones his performances of such songs as The Last Round Up/ The Strawberry Roan/ The Old Choslm Trail/ Tumbling Tumbleweeds are pretty hard to take.

 
TEX RITTER MCA MCAD 10188 The Country Music Hall Of Fame ● CD $8.98
16 tracks, highly recommended
We've turned up a few copies of this out of print album. Ol' Tex did his first recordings for Art Satherley at ARC in 1932, but his first extended tenure with any record company was with Decca from 1935-1939. Ritter's recorded repertoire with Decca mixed traditional cowboy numbers with more commercial material. This meant a mix of old favorites including (Take Me Back to My) Boots and Saddles/ Git Along, Little Dogies and The Hills of Old Wyomin' along with such profundities as Bill, the Bar Fly and Ride, Ride, Ride. He also tackled Jimmie Davis's My Brown Eyed Texas Rose and such obvious movie favorites as Singin' In The Saddle and Ai Viva Tequila. This isn't the most commercially memorable stuff Ritter recorded, but it gives a decent idea of where he started when he got into the movies. Brief but excellent notes by Charlie Seemann. (RK)

 
JIMMIE SKINNER Bear Family BCD 16827 One Dead Man Ago - Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight ● CD $21.98
34 tracks, 81 mins, highly recommended
Here's another great volume in the "Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight" series. Jimmie Skinner was definitely a bit of a rebel--or dare I say, "outlaw"--for his time. You get a whole mess of upbeat '50s Honky Tonk like The Ramblers Call/ There's Nothing About You Special/ By Degrees/ Too Hot To Handle/ Another Saturday Night/ I Found My Girl In The U.S.A./ Don't Give Your Heart To A Rambler/ You Don't Know My Mind, plus a couple dozen more. Recordings span 1949-1962 for labels, Radio Artists, Capitol, Decca and Mercury, including a couple rare demo cuts. Informative notes by Dave Samuelson fill the booklet, but you also get great audio snippets of Skinner himself reading from his unfinished biography. When you add it all up, what you have here is a great chronicle of a unique Country artist, one that can easily be seen as a pre-curser to the Rockabilly cats that would soon shake up the world. (JM)

 
DICK THOMAS B.A.C.M. 240 Sioux City Sue ● CD $14.98
22 tracks recorded between 1944 and 1953 by Western singer from, of all places, Philadelphia. AS you might expect there isn't a whole lot of country twang in his singing. It includes his original recording of his own composition Sioux City Sue which became a Western standard as well as being covered with great success by Bing Crosby. Also Down In Old Wyoming/ Tumblin' Tumbleweeds/ Can't get Back Too Soon To Tucson/ Take Me Back To My Boots & Saddle/ The Gods Were A n gry With Me/ Swiss Lullaby/ Esmereldy, etc.
DICK THOMAS: A Broken Down Merry Go Round/ Born To Lose/ Can't Get Back Too Soon To Tucson/ Down In Old Wyoming/ Esmereldy/ Honestly/ I'm Goin'/ I'm Tying The Leaves So They Won't Come Down/ If Memories Were Money/ Queen Of The Poconos/ Ragtime Cowboy From Santa Fe/ Send This Purple Heart To My Sweetheart/ Sioux City Sue/ Sleepy Head/ Swiss Lullaby/ Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle/ The Gods Were Angry With Me/ The Last Roundup/ Tumblin' Tumbleweeds/ Weary Nights And Broken Dreams/ When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again/ When Uncle Joe Playsthe Rag On His Old Banjo

 
SUE THOMPSON B.A.C.M. 238 Angels Cry ● CD $14.98
24 tracks, good
Sue Thompson is best known for a string of pop hits in the early 60s but started her career in the late 40s as a country artist and returned to country in the late 60s after her pop hits dried up. This collection features 24 tracks recorded between 1950 and 1954 - most of them in the company of her second husband Dude Martin and his band The Roundup Rangers plus two duets with her third husband Hank Penny. Even though marketed as country her early recordings are very pop oriented with only the occasional steel guitar and fiddle to distinguish it from straight pop. Sue is a decent singer though her adoption of a little girl voice for some of her songs gets pretty annoying.
SUE THOMPSON: Angels Cry/ Come A Little Bit Closer/ Donna Wanna/ Gee But I Hate To Go Home Alone/ How Many Tears Make An Ocean/ I Long To Tell You/ I Think I'll Eat A Tadpole/ I Was Just Walking Out The Door/ I'll Hate Myself In The Morning/ I'm Not That Kind Of Girl/ If You Should Change Your Mind/ If You Want Some Lovin' Just Let Me Know/ Junior's A Big Boy Now/ Last Night I Heard Somebody Cry/ Oh Baby What've You Got/ Red Hot Henrietta Brown/ Say It With Your Heart/ Take Care My Love/ Things I Might Have Been/ Walkin' In The Snow/ You And Me/ You Belong To Me/ You're An Angel On The Outside/ You're Getting A Good Girl When You Get Me

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Buffalo Bop 55189 Hep Cat Rockabilly ● CD $19.98
30 tracks, 67 mins, recommended
Looks like a Rockabilly compilation, the title certainly implies that this is chock full of Rockabilly blasters, but when this CD started spinnin' in my player most all of what came out sure sounded like Country to me. There is no shame in putting out a compilation full of wild and obscure Country tracks; Jasmine does a great job doing it. The tracks that are the most fitting to the title are ones like My Walkin' Shoes by Dusty Payne Cattin' Tonight by Tim Dickins. Other fine and obscure Country tracks I Won't Cry Alone by Bluegrass Ervin, Big, Big Truck by Harold Crosby, Alabama Boogie by Hank Mathews, etc. Plus you get the usual fine selection of label reproductions and rare photos, that always tell a fascinating story on their own (at least to record geeks like me). So all in all, what you get ain't what it says it is, but it is a fine collection, with lots of fantastic, rare Country songs and a handful of Rockabilly gems. (JM)
JACK BARLOW: Step Down/ DWAIN BELL: Rock and Roll on a Saturday Night/ CLIFF BLAKLEY: High Steppin'/ Want To Be With You/ BLUEGRASS ERVIN: I Won't Cry Alone/ DERAL CLOUR & CHARLEY DRAKE: Sundown (Boogie)/ BUDDY CRAWFORD: Velvet Heart/ GENE CRISS: Hep Cat Baby/ I Don't Know/ HAROLD CROSBY: Big, Big Truck/ DICKIE DAMRON: Gonna Have a Party/ TIM DINKINS & HIS CUT UPS: Cattin' Tonight/ EARL EPPS: Bee-Bop Blues/ GEORGE GARRISH & J.B. COMBO: All Night Dinner/ BILL JOHNSON: Pitchin' Woo/ BILLY LUKE: Long Time No See/ THE MADDY BROTHERS: Mixed Up/ HANK MATTHEWS: Alabama Boogie/ CURLEY MONEY: Many Tears Ago/ Stop Your Knockin'/ CUDDLES C. NEWSOME: One Little Kiss/ WINNIE PARKER: Down Boy Boogie/ DUSTY PAYNE: I Want You/ My Walkin' Shoes/ THE RHYTHM PLAYBOYS (VOCAL DEWEY ROTHERING): Wild Side of Life/ NORM SEACHRIST: Big Beat/ GENE SMITH: I'm Gone/ CARL TANNER: Sweet Talking Baby/ WALTON & SILVER LAKE BOYS: Man, What a Party/ COY WERLEY: Rock Bottom Luck

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Gusto 2039 Banjo In The Hills ● CD $7.98
16 tracks, 36 mins, highly recommended
Fantastic budget priced set of vintage bluegrass recorded for the King/ Starday labels in the 1950s' early '60s. No frills packaging, but quality sound, on par with what Gusto has been turning out of late. Tearing off at full speed with Banjo Breakdown (i.e. Dueling Banjos) by Rusty York & Willard Hale, then settling in a bit from there with Flowers From The Hillside by Bill Clifton. That's pretty much the collection in a nutshell, either deftly picked Bluegrass wonders or high lonesome ballads. This features tracks by The Stanley Brothers, Jim & Jessie, Carl Story, The Country Gentlemen, Jim Eanes, and The Kentucky Travelers. (JM)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS JSP JSPCD 77110 Bluegrass - Independent Labels, 1951-1954 ● CD $28.98
Four CDs, 100 tracks, very highly recommended
Another terrific collection from JSP - this time focusing on some of the small independent labels that emerged in the early 50s to record the burgeoning bluegrass style that had been popularized by artists like Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs & others. The selections here are drawn from local labels like Blue Ridge, Kentucky, Mutual, Henlee, Security and others and most of these tracks are appearing on CD for the first time. Included are the earliest recordings of performers who were to become bluegrass stars like Red Allen, Bill Clifton, Jim & Jesse, Sonny Osborne and banjo wizard Allen Shelton but the majority of performers are obscure local artists who only recorded a handful of sides. There are very few duds and most of the artists are excellent. I particularly like the performances by Larry Richardson & Happy Smith, The Church Brothers & Their Blue Ridge Ramblers, The Renfro Family, Glenn Neaves & the Grayson County Boys, John Reedy & His Stone Mountain Hillbillys, Dave Woolum (four superb sides including a great version of The Carter Family's Single Girl, Married Girl) and Ernest Martin but it's all worth a listen. There's lots of great bluegrass gospel and only one version of Orange Blossom Special. Sound quality is superb and there are informative notes by Pat Harrison and discographical info where known. (FS)
RED ALLEN: Boat Of Love/ Bouquet In Heaven/ Down In The Willow Garden/ Ho, Honey, Ho/ Mansions For Me/ Paul & Silas/ Preaching & Praying/ White Dove/ RAY ANDERSON: What Would The Profit Be?/ When The Saints Go Marching In/ THE BOWES BROTHERS: Mother Won't Grow Old So Soon/ Stop Knocking On My Door/ THE BRAMMER BROTHERS & THE VIRGINIA PARTNERS: Tell Me Truly Little Darling/ Virginia Waltz/ ALEX CAMPBELL: You Were Only Teasing Me/ THE CHURCH BROTHERS & THEIR BLUE RIDGE RAMBL: Angel With Blue Eyes, An/ Way Down In Ole' Caroline/ When Jesus Calls You Home/ You're Still The Rose Of My Heart/ BILL CLIFTON & HIS DIXIE MOUNTAIN BOYS: A Flower Blooming In The Wildwood/ All The Good Times Are Past And Gone/ Burglar Man, The/ Wake Up Susan/ WILBURN CURTIS: Thirty Pieces Of Silver/ JIM EANES & HIS SHENANDOAH VALLEY BOYS: A Sweeter Love Than Yours I'll Never Know/ Drunkard's Highway/ Long Journey Home/ Returned From Missing In Action/ JOE FRANKLIN & HIS MIMOSA BOYS: There'll Be No Wedding Bells For Me/ JOHN & BILL GARAY: Come Back Little Pal/ Little Girl Go Tell Your Mama/ BETTY HARPER & THE BLACK MOUNTAIN BOYS: Don't That Moon Look Lonesome/ I'm Lonesome Tonight/ HENRY HUDSON & JIGGS HIBLER: 8Th Of January/ Cripple Creek/ HUGHIE & JUNE: Come Along To Glory/ Reunion Day In Heaven/ I.W. & HAROLD & THE CAROLINA NEIGHBORS: I Won't Write Another Letter To You Darlin/ JIMMY JANNEY & THE STONEY MOUNTAIN BOYS: So Lonely For Moather And Dad/ JOHNNY & JACK: Too Many Blues/ HACK JOHNSON & HIS TENNESSEANS: Crazy Banjoy Medley/ Gone Home/ Home Sweet Home/ How About You Friend/ Swanee River/ ENOS JOHNSON & SONNY OSBORNE: I'll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning/ I'm On The Way To The Old Home/ River Of Death/ Sugar Coated Love/ RONNIE KNITTEL & HOLSTON VALLEY RAMBLERS: Holston Valley Breakdwon/ I Can Thank My Lucky Stars/ WADE MAINER & THE MOUNTAINEERS: Blue Ridge Mountain Blues/ Three Nights In A Bar Room/ ERNEST MARTIN: Revelation 1:18/ Sugar Coated Love/ THE MASSEY FAMILY: Piney Woods/ JIM & JESSE MCREYNOLDS: Are You Missing Me/ I'll Wash Your Love From My Heart/ FRED MURPHY & THE BLUE RIVER BOYS: I Want to Be Ready/ You'll Always Be My Blue-Eyed Darling/ GLENN NEAVES & THE GRAYSON COUNTY BOYS: Black Mountain Rag/ Old Swinging Bridge/ THE NORTH CAROLINA RIDGE RUNNERS: Orange Blossom Special/ SONNY OSBORNE: I'll Stay Around/ Letter From My Darling/ THE RAINBOW VALLEY BOYS: Broken Hearts Mean Nothing To You/ Culloeka/ JOHN REEDY & HIS STONE MOUNTAIN HILLBILLYS: Somebody Touched Me/ BILL & MARY REID: Bloom Has Left The Rose, The/ THE RENFRO FAMILY: Power in The Blood/ Where The Soul Never Dies/ LARRY RICHARDSON & HAPPY SMITH: Just Let Me Fall/ THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN BOYS: Church Of God, The/ CARL SAUCEMAN & HIS GREEN VALLEY BOYS: A White Cross Marks The Grave/ I'll Be An Angel Too/ SCOTTY & TAR HEEL RUBY: When We Say Goodbye/ ALLEN SHELTON: Allen's Dream/ Old Kenturcky Home/ HAPPY SMITH: I'm Lonesome/ DEE STONE & HIS VIRGINIA MOUNTAIN BOYS: Countin' The Days/ Highway 220/ No Room In Your Life For My Now/ Pilot Mountain Rag/ DEE STONE & TED PRILLAMAN'S VIRGINIA RAMBLER: Fiddler's Dream/ Is There Any Harm To Dream/ DEE STONE & THE MELODY HILL-BILLYS: Heads You Win Tails I Lose/ I'm Lost Without You/ DEE STONE WITH TED PRILLAMAN'S VIRGINIA RAMB: Answer To Little Pal/ Mountain Swing/ Square Dance Rag/ BILLY THOMAS: Black Mountain Rag/ THE TURNER BROTHERS: All Night Long/ THE VIRGINIA TRIO (JIM & JESSE MCREYNOLDS): God Put A Rainbow In The Cloud/ I'll Fly Away/ Let Me Travel Alone/ Sing, Sing, Sing/ DAVE WOOLUM: Maple On The Hill/ Rolling Stone/ I Ain't Gonna Let Her Do It Anymore/ Single Girl, Married Girl

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Lonesome 071 Music Of Coal - Mining Songs From The Appalachian Coalfields ● CD $38.98
Hardbound book with 69 pages, 2 CDs, 48 tracks, 146 mins, highly recommended
Here we have a fantastic, albeit heartbreaking, collection of music by and about coal mining and coal mining communities. This is full of haunting mountain music, be it Folk, Bluegrass, or even Blues. World wide, coal miners still lose life and limb in order to provide for others, this is merely a start to telling their stories. "Sprinkle coal dust on my grave in remembrance of the UNWA, " Orvile Jenks sang in West Virginia in 1940, with a voice aching with experience, pulling air from lungs most likely filled with the very same coal dust. With the wide variety of performers on this, it's Jean Sheppard and Merle Travis that get the most space, with four of her compositions and three of his represented. The most famous of Travis' coal songs, Sixteen Tons, is here not sung by him or Tennessee Ernie Ford, but by the actor Ned Beaty, who does a fine job, and once you read the notes, it is fitting. Travis is in fine form when he does sing on his classic from 1947, Dark as a Dungeon. Tracks span from a 1908 Cylinder recording by Otto Langley & The Edison Concert Band, all the way up to present day. Artists of note Dock Boggs, Carter Stanley, Ralph Stanley, Tom T. Hall, Molly Stemp, Blue Highway The Carter Family, Ted Chestnut, and many more. Each and every track is brilliantly annotated with lyrics, history and when available any relating pictures. I would give this an Essential rating except for the last song, done by Natalie Merchant, which is pretty lousy. Otherwise it is an absolutely wonderful collection. (JM)

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Rural Rhythm 326 Appalachian Mountain Gospel ● CD $8.98
Fine budget priced collection of bluegrass gospel drawn from the Rural Rhythm catalog. INcludes There Is Power In The Blood by The Marksmen, Take ME In Your LIfeboat by Red Smiley & The Bluegrass Cutups, The Great Speckled Bird by Don Reno & Bill Harrell, a lovely instrumental rendition of Keep On The Sunny Side by Lee Moore plus tracks from The House BRothers, Mac Martin & The Dixie Travelers, Hylo Brown & The Timberliners, Red White & The Country Gospel Singers and others. 25 tracks in all.

 

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