Ray pilloeRAY PILLOW (With the Grand Ole Opry Band) COUNTRY CLASS  ~  SUPER FLASH RECORDS
On 30th April 1996 Ray Pillow joined the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and is still performing there. His newest CD (his 1st recording in some years) is recorded with the Grand Ole Opry Band. Now what keeps a singer in this business for all that time, still performing and still pleasing his listeners, TALENT ! that's what! and on this CD the singer shines and shows that talent. His voice is maybe sounding a bit 'lived in' ( but don't we all in later life) but it still has that quality that more than carries the song. The 12 songs are all top notch, 11 of them written by Mark Nesler, some with other writers like Tony Martin on 7 songs, Tracy Byrd on 2 and Frank Dycus. The 12th song I wonder who's missing you now is co-written by Craig Dillingham, Mark Sherrill and Sonny Throckmorton. The songs cover mainly love and lost love topics and range from strong ballads to swing tunes, with shuffles and mid-tempo songs between the ballads. The musicians are in a class of their own, you don't play the Opry every weekend and not gain expertise on your chosen instrument. Jimmy Capps on acoustic guitar (including lovely lead acoustic on Angelina, Kerry Marx electric guitar, Billy Linnermann upright bass, Tim Atwood piano, Tommy White steel guitar, Hoot Hester on fiddle and John Gardner & Milton Sledge drums and percussion all shine individually and together and give of their best for producer Jerry Crutchfield who has produced more than one hit album in his day.(Dennis McCall is the only backup voice). If you like your country from a great singer, singing great songs, with great backing, give this one a listen and you'll understand why I loved the whole 42 minutes. I wonder whos missing you now, This ain't no sad country song (his new single on the Country HotDisc in at No 7 on 9th March) and I do,but I don't are all standout tracks.Welcome back Ray Pillow, Country Class indeed and congratulations on your 40th Anniversary at the Opry. www.raypillow.com has more details about getting a copy of the CD.
OTHER SONGS:- Go away-Those less fortunate than I-Being in love- Oklahoma Gal-For me it's you-The part I don't understand- Going crazy.

WAYNE KEMP ~ ONE SONG AT A TIME ~ BSW/CC 2275
Singer-songwriter-guitarist and record producer Wayne Kemp is probably best known as the HIT songwriter of classic country songs like One Piece at a Time (Johnny Cash No 1 1976) I'll leave this world loving you (Ricky Van Shelton No 1 1988) and Love Bug which hit the top twice (for George Jones in 1965 and George Strait in 1994).His other better known hits include I'm the only hell my Mama ever tried to raise (Johnny Paycheck) and The Fireman (George Strait) both rerecorded here along with 8 other songs all co-written by Wayne with Mack Vickery, Robert Kemp Patsy Kemp and Bryan Tabor on various songs. This would appear to be Wayne's 3rd album and this is traditional country, steel guitar and piano through and through. Recorded at Buck Jarrell's Studio in Hendersonville, it's mastered and mixed by Buck while wife Kathy and Robert Kemp sing backup. The musicians are not named but the overall sound is consistent , with the balance finely mixed to show Wayne's vocal to it's best, particularly on the ballads Don't send me no angels and Hole in my heart. The vocals are never overstretched with Wayne probably the best vocalist to sing his own songs, (with the exception of One Piece at a time which I feel Johnny Cash made his own). It's a most enjoyable collection of great songs well sung by the originator and worthy of any country collection.
OTHER SONGS:-Somehow without you-A little bit weaker-Crying for their Mama's-Pretty boy Floyd-Lesson in love.

JIMMIE OSBORNE, VOLUME 2, BACM CD D 128
Jimmie Osborne was born in 1923 in Kentucky and in 1940 won an amateur contest which got him a job on local radio. In 1946, he got his first big break and moved to KWKH, the Louisiana Hayride. He worked with the Bailes Brothers and toured across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. He performed on WSM's Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, WLS' National Barn Dance in Chicago and other radio shows . In September 1947, he signed to King Records in Cincinnati, where his first recording, My Heart Echoes made it to No. 10 on the Billboard Juke Box Survey. Other hits included Mom Is Dying Tonight, A Vacant Sign Upon My Heart, Tears Of St Anne, Please God Protect America and his best known recording, The Death Of Little Kathy Fiscus, Jimmie wrote most of his songs and until his death recorded exclusively for King. He died on 26th December, 1958 of self- inflicted gun wounds at the age of 35. The songs included here are from 1947 to 1954 with one from 1958 and includes 8 written by Jimmie. The songs are mainly lost love, broken hearts and broken romances and the song titles tell the story themselves. An Empty Old Cottage, It's me who has to suffer, My Saddest mistake, Mom is dying tonight etc are all sadness personified. But the inclusion of Y'all come, Paper Tissue Heart & It just tears me to pieces liven up this 25 song collection of sad songs. He sings them well and the fiddle and early steel and lead guitars with piano and occasional vocal harmonies show that the producers didn't stint when recording. If you like sad songs then this could be for you. You can order direct at www.bacm.users.btopenworld.com or by telephone Tel:- 01304 205000
OTHER SONGS:-Blue days & lonely nights-A Tennessee ocean-I did & I does & I do-Missing in action-A million people have died-Love me or leave me-It's just a habit with you-Tell me daddy if you know-Old family bible-Please God Protect America-You're the only angel-Your lovin'& huggin'-Not unloved or unclaimed-Son please meet me In heaven- It's so hard to smile-Forever far apart-Your lies have broken my heart-Don't slam the door

Nitty Gritty Dirt BandNITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND ~ ACOUSTIC CAPITOL EMI..09463-38221-2-2.
The story goes that back in September 1993 during a live show the NGDB added a few songs performed acoustically. That part of their set expanded in their show and then they decided to record an album in that style. The album was recorded in early 1994 and released on Liberty Records. The self-produced Acoustic was the band's triumphant return to their early roots, and is highlighted by the band's own compositions including "Cupid's Got A Gun," and other standout tracks are the bluegrassy toe-tapper "Sara In The Summer" the wistful "Let It Roll" and the quietly brooding "Badlands," The album also features the original studio version of "Bless The Broken Road," co-written by Hanna with Marcus Hummon & Bobby Boyd, which Rascal Flatts took to the top of the country singles chart for a multi-week stay at No.1. "Bless the Broken Road" was nominated for Single and Song of the Year by the Country Music Association and by The Academy of Country Music last year. The version here is a remix. This album and other recent re-releases are a testament to the staying power of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band who for almost 40 years have been crafting American music in their unique style. It's worth seeking out if you haven't heard the original and worth seeking out just for the sheer pleasure of relistening to a great album.
OTHER SONGS:-How long-Hello I am your heart-Love will find a way-Trying Times-The Train that keeps rolling along-One sure honest line.

BONNIE LOU ~ DANGER! HEARTBREAK AHEAD - BACM CD D 130
Bonnie Lou was born Mary Kath on 27 October 1924, in Towanda, Illinois. She went from talent contest winner to radio at 18 at KMBC in Kansas City. She was billed there as "Sally Carson" - a name that was owned by the radio station and few years later in 1945 WLW, in Cincinnati decided on a new name and "Bonnie Lou" was born. In 1953 she signed with King Records and her first release, Seven Lonely Nights immediately made the Country charts. Her next record, Tennessee Wig Walk, rose to No.6. Bonnie recorded some 24 sides during her time with King but she never achieved the success of her first records. She continued in the music business and her performances became increasingly slanted towards more popular styles and she is now recognised as an important figure in Rock-A-Billy music. She has now retired. This collection is the 24 sides she cut with King records, including her hits Tennessee Wig Walkand - Seven Lonely Nights plus other popular songs from the period like The Finger of Suspicion - Just out of reach - Wait for me darling - Rusty Old Halo and others recorded by British singers during the 50's.The backing music varies from orchestral to country. Its very pleasant listening though not outstanding and is another piece of country nostalgia from 53, 54 and 55. You can order direct at www.bacm.users.btopenworld.com or by telephone Tel:- 01304 205000.
OTHER SONGS:-Tell the world-Darling Why-No one-Please donâ€t laugh when I cry-Old faithful & true love-Scrap of paper-No heart at all-Texas Polka-Hand me down heart-Danger ! Heartbreak ahead-Welcome mat-Miss the love I've been dreaming of- Since you said goodbye-Blue Tennessee rain-Two step side step-Huckleberry Pie-Train whistle blues- Tweedle Dee

BEST OF BRITISH COUNTRY 2005, VARIOUS ARTISTES  SILVER HEART RECORDS SHR 2005
This 16 track 54 minute Cd is a compilation of British and Irish singers with their own and other's songs recorded here and in the USA. This is Silver Heart's 7th annual release under the Best Of British banner and it is a good cross-section of what has been released and played on radio from the Country Hot Disc over 12 months. Newcomers include: Chris Harris and his Hotdisc Award winning single I Ain't Coming back, Lucie Diamond and Rachael Warwick, Stephen Smith and Ren Lehman and Keith Irwin and Dan Wesley. Scottish based band Evangeline, (now defunct) have 2 tracks included while I have 2 songs also included, one being the award winning British Country Single of the Year Another Chance to dance. Popular duo Colin Fidoe and Geoff Bates appear in 2 guised, as Easy Rider with The Union Mare & Confederate Grey and as the Everly's Experience with Release me. Irish born Nashville resident Bernadette is the 3rd female on the CD, while Essex favourite son Dane Stevens and veteran Stu Stevens make up the 16 tracks. As in previous years this is probably essential listening for the British country music fan who has not got all the full Cds in their collection and the best showcase a country artiste could get in the UK. It is available from the artistes at their gigs or direct from Silver Heart Telephone 01835 864 833 or at www.hotdisc.net .
OTHER SONGS:-Your amazing Grace-What I like about you-One last look at love-The chance to live another day-I fell for you last night-Cowboy Song-It's a long long way to yesterday-Thorny garden-That's good-Country truck drivin man-If I could only have you-When I dream.

Collin RayeCOLLIN RAYE, FEARLESS BSW/COUNTRY COUNTRY RECORDS BSW/CC2275
Collin received 11 nominations from the CMA and the ACM for singles, songs and Male Vocalist between 1992 and 2000 and won a Dove award for Song of the Year The Gift in 1998 and won the Country Video of the Year from the ACM for I Think About You. His biggest hit Love me opened so many doors while Little Rock - Not that Different - I think about You and The Gift kept him is the forefront of country in Nashville for his 10 year stay with Epic where he was one of their Top Country sellers for many years and notched up 15 No 1 hit singles. Then he and Epic parted company and he disappeared from the recording scene for some years. Now BSW picked up this release of 12 songs (48 minutes) and Collin is set to return to great things. Most of the great songs here could open the chart door again. The tenderness of some songs evokes memories of Love Me. His version of his co-write with Gary Burr You've heard that one before and co-producer Gene Lesage Too hot to Sleep lift the tempo to a rocking beat and deserves to top the modern charts. Collin is best at the ballad though and I loved Falling in Love Again - Just Because and Forever Stars Right Now. 5 of the songs don't have any writer credits, (oversight) and his version of My Way and The House of the Rising Sun while obvious LIVE showstoppers, should have been saved for another day and CD. Full credit to the tight session players all 8 musicians playing guitars, drums, bass, fiddle, keyboards and accordion. Full marks too to the producers and you should look out for a copy, you won't be disappointed. The CD opens with the ironic words Can't explain it, I don't even want to try which surely explains his absence!!
OTHER SONGS:-Fearless-Young as we're ever going to be-Lady-Makin up time-Something to say.

COUNTRY COMPANY NEVER & FOREVER - LMR CD10
Currently at the top of their profession, Country Company (Sandra & Clive Green) are without doubt one the UK's top male /female duos and from a live entertainment aspect lead in a field that many others can only aspire to. They have built their good name on quality songs, quality recordings and quality presentation and this CD continues their journey. It's a mix of well known and lesser known covers, old and new songs, that they feel they can stamp their sound and style on for their Live shows. Working Live as they do with acoustic guitar and percussion, its not every song that takes a trick, but on this CD they take full advantage of steel guitar, dobro, fiddle, drums, piano, keyboards, synth and guitars both electric and acoustic. Their voices blend so well and they choose songs to suit their ability, never over-stretching and spoiling, always well within their range and the result is always a pleasure to listen to. They also share songs, and take alternate lead vocal. Wayne Golden on guitars and synth, engineering and co- producing with the duo excels as ever, while John Permenter guests on fiddle, Tim Howard plays steel guitar & dobro, Scott Newstead on piano & keyboards and Chris Burgess on drums. It's a package with a capital Q as in quality and deserves every accolade it will get. Its available from the duo at their shows or you can e-mail your enquiry to [email protected]
SONGS:-We Work it Out -Oh, To Be The One -I'll Be Faithful To You -Buicks To The Moon -Oh, What It Did To Me -Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good -Turn The Lights Out When You Leave -I've Got This Feeling -More & More & More -Mr. Man In The Moon -Never & Forever -Speak To The Sky.

CREA  ~  DRIVE TIME  ~  B.S.W.RECORDS CD9290
Back in December 2004 I reviewed Crea's first CD release and said then She does have a potential that could do the business in the years to come and should be encouraged ¦Crea needs to rethink the songs, and sing only the comfortable ones she can carry with her voice. Look out for Crea in a few years time and I'll bet you'll notice the difference. This Cd appears to have done that, and to my ear the difference is noticeable and remarkable. Here's a girl with a great future, good voice, great songs, and with the right push she could hit the charts. The CD opens with One of Us and Drive Time both lovely gentle swaying ballads that suck you in for Don't touch me the old Hank Cochrane song getting a real believable rendition handled with real sincerity and tenderness and probably the best version I've heard since Seely cut the original. Then the remake of Little Bitty Tear (another Cochrane standard) gets a tempo change and a whole new meaning. In Texas is as you would expect a Texas shuffle with great fiddles and steel and Some assembly needed rocks with great lead guitar, the liveliest 2 tracks. The country band of excellent musicians surround her voice like good country recording do, and producer and steel player Jim Vest and engineer Buck Jarrell should take full credit for a great album. Can't fault this one at all, another winner from BSW who continue to send great COUNTRY albums.
OTHER SONGS:The rock-Take our love-Open hand-Drop of a tear-Fly Angel fly.

TOTALLY COUNTRY VOL 5  ~  VARIOUS ARTISTES = SONY..82876-77145 2
66 minutes of country hits,17 tracks from the cream of today's Nashville chart-toppers make up Volume 5 of the Totally Country series from Sony. This opens with Miranda Lambert and Kerosene setting the standard and tempo followed by Gretchen Wilson and Homewrecker. Dierks Bently adds the acoustic opening bars to How am I doing before picking up the tempo. Big & Rich keep the style and tempo with Coming to your city and Sara Evens keeps it country with her great Suds in the Bucket hit. Newcomers Van Zant adds Help Somebody and Cowboy Troy featuring Big & Rich add I Play Chicken with the train a country Rap song. Band 8 is Montgomery Gentry with a power ballad You do your thing while Craig Morgan adds the fun song Redneck yacht club and Keith Anderson keep the flavour with XXL while Ray Scott tells it like it is with My kind of music. Lonestar continue their winning ways with You're like coming home while Blake Shelton give his all on the ballad Goodbye Timeâ Another newcomer Jason Aldern impresses with Hicktown another modern country sound and then its all slow down as Martina McBride delivers Gods wil a tearjerker which I found out of context with the rest of the songs on the compilation. Andy Griggs stays in ballad mode with Heaven while Brooks and Dunn round out the Cd with It's getting better all the time another power ballad. Overall this is a good representation of what's charting in Nashville and what's selling in the store there. The sleeve give full details of the tracks and advertises the albums they come.Roll on Volume 6.

LEFT HAND DRIVE  ~  THE BIG PICTURE…32005
Left Hand Drive were a 3 piece north of England band who played the circuit for many years including festivals in Scotland and The North. It consisted of Steve Bidder bass and harmonica player lead vocalist and songwriter, Pete Barton lead guitarist and drummer Colin Bruton. The trio were working on this CD and had just completed the drum parts when Colin sadly died. So they decided to finish the Cd in his memory and added a bonus track featuring Colin singing Trust Me (I'm the Drummer) which is actually a demo version the only version available. All the songs are written by Steve and they vary in style tempo and subject matter running from love songs to topics as diverse as Cuba, Cowboy movies, Cars, Cowboys and other road themes. The added musicians include Basil Hendricks on pedal steel, Aidan Coyle on mandolin, and a variety of acoustic and electric guitars and Shane O'Borne on piano and acoustic guitar and he also produces the CD. The overall project deserves credit, the songs, the music, the production, the musicians are all faultless and it is well presented. It is a fitting tribute to their former drummer and deserves success. It is available direct from Steve on:  01204373647, it's priced £8.00 including p&p or you can drop an e-mail for details to [email protected]
SONGS:-Somethin' happenin' out there-Goodnight kiss-Cuba-Life's a peach-Cowboy movies-Paper & a vow-Stragger-Bluebell blue-Big light-When he drives that car-Wishin-Trust me (I'm a drummer).

THOMAS MAGUIRE & FHIONA ENNIS ~ PROMISED TO JOHN NELL RECORDS CD001
I've been reviewing Thomas Maguire CDs for a few years now and I'm always impressed with his recordings. This one is a new venture on Nell Records, Thomas plus Fhiona Ennis on the same CD with 6 songs each as solo performers and 2 duets. As duet partners they blend well together akin to Ray Lynam & Philomena Begley some years ago and their style reminds me of that era. Yes it is time it was revived, why change a successful style. Their version of Two Stepping Fun Song and Promised to John would set any toes tapping. Thomas sings a varied selection himself with I wanna be where you're gonna be tonight and Henry McMahon's The Ballad of Henry Ford both lilting Irish country quicksteps. He does a creditable version of Cash's I still miss someone and a Big Tom Medley The Pain of Loving You - Ashes of Love - The Wheels fell off the wagon & That Was before I met you in true Showband style which suits him to a tee. The Irish song My Darling Girl Eadaoin will guarantee radio play on the Irish programmes as will most of the CD. He also rounds off the CD with a Christmas song It's so close to Christmas covering all the bases. These are all great recordings and will please his ever growing fan club. Fhiona starts her solo songs with Lovin You Lovin Me, and We All Get Lucky Sometimes both up-tempo with great guitar and sax Showband style. I like her version of the standards Don't Cheat in my Hometown - Someday you'll call my name and He thinks I Still care which stay true to the originals while her version of the Rosie Flores song Midnight to Moonlight gets the Irish waltz treatment with accordion very successfully.it's a great pairing on CD and I look forward to hearing a full Cd of duets as I'm sure they would fill the gap in that market very successfully. Quality recording with great musicians, a virtual who's who of Irish session talent all giving of their best. Full details from Tel No:- 02868628303 (Nell records) or you can e-mail Nell [email protected]