GENE WATSON - FROM THE HEART R.M.G. RECORDS.
Gene watsonIt's great that Gene has found a new record label and he's back on the road again after his recent illness.This is his first for RGM (Row Music Group) in Nashville and in Gene's case is it ever anything else but COUNTRY? He brought Ray Pennington out of retirement to co-produce. Even Buddy Emmons (who recently retired from studio playing) came back to play steel. The musicians include Dirk Johnson piano, David Smith bass, Gregg Galbraith lead guitar, Bobby All acoustic guitar, Jerry Kroon and Milton Sledge drums with Aubrey Haynie Fiddle & mandolin. John Wesley Ryles sings BGV's (background vocals) & harmony. The rest is Gene with songs that vary in tempo from ballads to swing. His forte is the big ballad and there's a few crackers on this CD. "She Had Me" is a new Tommy Rocco ballad, while the 1954 Boudleaux Bryant song "Take Me As I Am or Let Me Go" gets a new lease of life. Max D Barnes co writes the ballad "When You're Not Looking Back" with Leslie Satcher, the skip Ewing/Bill Anderson ballad "The Truth Is I Lied" from 1995 and the Lefty Frizzell/Whitey Shafer classic "I Never Go Around Morrors" are refreshed by this great song stylist.
The CD opens with "Next To Nothing" and I can see that song re-appearing again and again. Other Songwriters include Eddy Raven, Jeff Bates, Frank Myers, Byron Hill, Mac Vickery and Steve Dean. His latest single "Would It Be Cheatin' " is included also.There is only one word to describe this 12 song / 40 minute CD, OUTSTANDING.

GEORGE JONES - THE ROCK: STONE COLD COUNTRY 2001 - BNA RECORDS
Jones The rockEvery George Jones CD release nowadays is eagerly awaited. When it comes to market leaders his is still No 1 and few have a shelf life as long as George. The CD is divided into three sets or groupings, 8 songs, 3 songs, & 1 song. The main group of 8 songs is produced by Emory Gordy Jr., featuring one set of 22 musicians, including 8 string players, and 8 backup singers in different studios. In this set there's "The Rock" the title track (a Russell Smith song), the Patriotic "50.000 Names" (written by Jamie O'Hara) Karen Staleys lovely "Half Over You", Stewart Harris's "I Am" and the catchy "Honey Hush" from new writer Dillon Dixon. The CD is rounded off with "Tramp On The Street" from Billy Joe Shaver's pen given a slow waltz tempo. These are all ballads where George shines, but some of the arrangements are overdone to my mind. "The Man He Was" (a Harley Allan song) is uptempo and very catchy while "Around Here" is a veritable tongue twister at times. Keith Stegal produces this 3 song section, with musicians and one backup singer (John Wesley Ryles). "Wood & Fire" is another stone country song, "I Got Everything" is punchy while "What I Didn't Do" is Jones at his finest, lovely fiddle & steel from Stuart Duncan & Paul Franklin. Jones knows how to pull at the heartstrings and does every chance he gets on this outing. That leaves the one song that is the much-hyped duet with Garth Brooks. Oh it does work a Cajun feel to "Beer Run" which was to do so much for both careers (and still could). Produced by Garth Fundis with 8 musicians, it's a real go-er. It is a great album, but somehow for me it just doesn't gel like other great Jones Albums. Maybe they are just trying too hard to gain airplay and have somehow lost the plot along the way. Jones is singing better than ever, the songs are all outstanding, and on the strength of this he should be around for more great albums for years to come.

BEST OF COUNTRY 2001 VARIOUS ARTISTES SSHR RECORDS
Once again Stuart Cameron takes the Best of British tracks from his Country Hotdisc over the last 12 months and he has a wealth of talent to choose from. This CD has 21 tracks from 19 different artistes. (Dave Sheriff and Clive John have 2 tracks each). It runs for 75 minutes, featuring tracks that made the heights on the EMS European Independent Country Charts over the last year. In the main the artistes sing their own songs 16 of the tracks are written by British artistes. This CD has now become an important part of the British Country Scene, and is regarded by many as the "Seal of Approval" to the success of British Country. This is the 3rd year that the CD has been available and is much sought after by country collectors. Its available from the artistes at their gigs, or direct from [email protected] or on 0771201 8467.
SONG/ARTISTE:
Blue Blue Memory-Plain Loco; Born Survivor-Dean Foster; Playa Survivor-Dave Sheriff; In a Whisper-Clive John; It's All Over Now-The Drive; Halley Came To Jackson-Lucy Monroe;
Don't Play Faded Love-Gerry Ford; For Hank's Sake Keep It Country-Dane Stevens; Honey-Marston Ferry; Everything I Ain't-Sean Kenny;
'Scuse Moi My Heart-John McCane; Jerusalem Syndrome-Susan Hedges; Big Rig Blues-Tom Lambert;Won't Look Back Again-Chris McLernon; Sweat Child Of Mine-Jenny Sinclair;
He'll Never Hurt That Way Again-Dixon J. Scott; Left Hand Drive-Left Hand Drive; So Alive-Paul Copstake; The Wolves Cry-Clive John; "24/7/52"-Dave Sheriff; She Sure Makes Leaving Look Easy-Kyle Esplin.

MEMORIES OF HANK WILLIAMS Sr. VOLUME 2, B.S.W. RECORDS - LARRY BUTLER/ WILLIE NELSON
Larry ButlerBack in June/July 2000 I received Volume 1 and I said then "If you like Hank Williams songs or Willie Nelson singing or traditional country music you'll certainly love this CD". The same applies here, great sound, great songs, great singers, and great production. 9 of the 10 songs were written by Hank (No 10 by Joseph Mercer
Window Shopping). This is the second part of the session that made Volume one, same musicians, same production team and same quality production. David Zettner produces, and plays steel, lead, acoustic and bass guitars. Tony Pickens plays fiddle while Ron Knuth plays fiddle and mandolin, Bobby Bowman on steel also and Charlie Lindsey additional lead. If you got Vol 1 you'll have to get Vol 2, if not get both now. They are both available here in Britain direct from JWH promotions on Tel No 01653 658135 or by E-mail: [email protected]

 

DANIEL O'DONNELL - LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE. ROSETTE RECORDS
Daniel's first CD marks many changes at this point in his career. There's a new record company and label, a return to the style that launched his career, and his debut as a songwriter. The CD has 16 songs, and runs for 52 minutes. The song mix is varied, new songs, old favourites, and country, Irish, slow ballads, uptempo and waltzes. "Among The Wicklow Hills", "Belfast", and "Roads of Kildare" are the Irish content. "All I Want Is You" and "I Will Think Of You" are the original songs co-written by Daniel with Marc Roberts. These songs show great potential for a strong songwriting partnership. "Live, laugh,love" from Allan Shamblin, the Paul Overstreet/Don Schlitz hit "On The Other Hand", Conway's "I Can't See Without You" "Rosa Rio" (Cindy Walker), Raymond Froggatt's "Somewhere Under The Sun" and "Only This Moment Is Mine" all get a lovely country arrangement. The rest, all country classics stand alone, "Green Green Grass Of Home", "Waltz Across Texas", "Don't Say Love", "Thank You For Loving Me", and "One More Time". If ever anyone suggests that Daniel is not country, play "One More Time" and let him or her repeat the suggestion in all honesty. To my ear I found this CD the best COUNTRY album Daniel has ever recorded (with the exception of the last two tracks, Belfast and Roads to Kildare). I'm sure his legion of fans and many others will agree. Top marks all round to producer John Ryan, Engineers Phillip Begley/Daire Winton and the great team of top musicians. Recommended.

JOHN WAYNE - ROPIN' DREAMS - B.S.W. RECORDS
13 year old John Wayne Schultz makes his recording debut with this CD (10 songs/30 minutes).
He's been playing the local country scene around Karnes City, Texas, with the occasional guest spot at Oprys and Fairs outside the state. He's won a few showcase/talent shows along the way. On this outing he's surrounded by 7 talented musicians, and 3 backup singers. Frank Wilson co-produces with Wink Tyler in Austin Texas. It's another stone country CD from BSW, with a great sounding country band, never overstated, always right behind the voice, as they should be. Texas style two steps, shuffles, ballads, swing, a waltz, a honky tonk, with fiddle and steel guitar, piano, bass, acoustic, lead, & drums. Good songs too, all sung with ease, showing a remarkable maturity for one so young the odd note falter on songs 8,9,10 are quite acceptable at this stage in his career and "Angel Things", "Playboy" "Texas Man" & "Queen of My Sole" are standout tracks for me. Available on Tel No 01653 658 135 or E-mail [email protected]

KARYN BLACK - BENEATH THE SHELTERING SKY - SOUTHBOUND RECORDS
Karyn BlackKaryn's debut album is a electric mix of folk and country, with a little MOR added to appeal to a wider audience. Her influences include Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and songwriter Jacque Brel, but now that she's moved to Nashville and recorded there, the country influence is shining through. Singer songwriter she writes 6 of the songs on this 10 - song/33 minutes disc. Some are with co writers including Clay Mills who also plays acoustic guitar, sings BGV's and co produces with Karyn. Theres a little fiddle, lap steel and mandolin, but in the main it's a keyboard/guitars/drums album. It's a sensitive performance of a good singer singing good songs. The backing is very tight, and so positively in-tune with the performer. It's certainly not a country album but the content could gain airplay on some country programme. The other 4 songs include the Mick Jaggar/Keith Richard song "As Tears Go By"/ David Wilcox's "Eye Of The Hurricane"/ Lucinda Williams' "I Just Wanted To See You So Bad" and the Clay Mills song "Alabama Rain". Good quality recording well worth a listen or two. [www.southboundrecords.com/]

DANNY BATY - ALL THE MUSIC - THATCH RECORDS (UK)
Danny BatyDanny came to notice through the Country HotDisc, and he's done well on the European Independent Charts. His new single is on a recent HotDisc, and this CD "400 Horses" (A trucking song). Theres 14 songs here all written by Danny and recorded at various sessions with a variety of musicians (14 in all). It's another stone country album, lots of steel guitar and fiddles, but too many slow ballads, too much lost love and broken hearts for a CD. (Even the Christmas song "I Still Believe in Santa Claus" has a little girl with tears in her eye's etc). It's a well produced collection of songs, many of them well written and in the main well sung. The new single "400 Horses", "This January" and "Old Memories Die Hard" are my pick. It runs for 52 minutes and it's available through Country on Broadway. [website]

 

BIG BILL CAMPBELL - ROCKY MOUNTAIN RHYTHM -BRITISH ARCHIVE OF COUNTRY MUSIC
Now there a blast from the past, for all those who like their music pre-hillbilly, back when country was western. I'm talking 30's 40's and early 50's when a country "band" was a big orchestra, and non - electrified.
Clarance Campbell was born in 1891 in Alberta Canada, came to England for World War 1, and went back home wounded and returned to England in 1930. He took the stage name of "Zeke Winters" and broadcast for Radio Luxemborg, before he joined the BBC (Light Programme) as Big Bill Campbell and his Rocky Mountain Rhythms. Bill hosted the programmes, wrote the scripts, led the orchestra and occasionally narrated or sang the odd song. The ensemble included Peggy Bailey "The Sweet Voice of The West" (from Brighton), Buck Douglas "The Old Cowpuncher", Ronnie Brohn and his Ole Squeezebox. Other vocalists included Jack Curtis (Chief White Eagle) and Pat Cross and his Mounties. The shows were broadcast from "The Old Log Cabin" and were among the most popular on the BBC until his death in 1952. Bill and company made many recordings over the years and it's these recordings (not the radio shows) that are here. 20 tracks, 63 minutes featuring all the above individually and in company. The songs include Strawberry Roan, Rocky Mountain Rhythm, Covered Wagon Lullaby, Hillbilly Jamboree, Red Hills, Old Cowboy, Sourdough Dan, Cowboys Sweetheart and the Old Red Barn. While the accents are typically English Music Hall, and Bill the only Non-English on the recordings, I found them a real blast of nostalgia, not that I remember the period myself I'll have you know.
Available direct from The British Archive of Country Music, 163 The Gateway, Marine Parade, Dover CT16 1 LJ. £10.00 inc P&P. (Tel No: 01304 213 972)

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