Mel Hague
Country Music singer/songwriter
entertainer
author of Western Novels

website


Reviews by Mel Hague

ALAN JACKSON PRECIOUS MEMORIES

This is a gospel album so I'm afraid it doesn't really interest me very much because I'm not into religion. I like Alan Jackson because he possesses one of the few genuine country voices left in Nashville today and I have quite a few of his albums but I'm going to pass on this. I would also dispute the term Gospel because the album is really a collection of his mother's favourite hymns, which makes it more a religious album than gospel; you need a choir to really sing gospel and there are only a handful of musicians and singers performing here.

Jackson originally made this CD for his mum, hence the mother's favourites' theme, and it was only intended to be a Christmas present for her and a few close family members. That's what it says in the press release. Apparently, Arista got to hear it and wanted to put it out on general release and I don't suppose Jackson could refuse. Jackson's family, wife Denise and children, Mattie and Ali, joined in on some tracks and played a strong part in Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus, making the whole album a Jackson family affair.

I'm sure Jackson's millions of fans will be delighted that Precious Memories is being put out on general release and I'm very sure they will love this CD to bits as it has the usual immaculate Jackson production and that great country voice.

DOLLY PARTON THOSE WERE THE DAYS ~ EMI Records
Those Were the Days' has to be one of my favourite songs and it always makes my eyes prickle a little bit every time I hear it so I couldn't wait to hear what Dolly made of it on her latest CD. I wasn't disappointed because although she's given it a slight bluegrass touch it's still the same great song I've been in love with for so long. Mary Hopkin is in there singing along with Dolly but it's not a duet just more of a flavouring and that's the order of the day throughout the album although there are a couple of duets including If I Were A Carpenter done Johnny and June style with Joe Nichols.

Among the artists singing along adding their individual flavourings are Roger McGuinn, Kris Kristofferson, Judy Collins, Tommy Jones, Moscow Circus, Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens), George Jones, Porter Wagoner, Brenda Lee, Nickel Creek, Norah Jones, Alison Krauss and the beautiful Rhonda Vincent.

Kristofferson joins her on his huge hit song Me And Bobby McGee and it sounds like they had a ball with it. The album is a concept one that is very much out of fashion these days but the concept is simply that Dolly wanted to record these songs and finally felt that the time was right now so being free of any contractual agreements with any major record company she just went ahead and did it.

The fact that Dolly Parton is not on a major label and can't get any radio airplay for love or money just fails and saddens me completely but that's the music scene today; the execs and the bean counters have taken the artistry out of the business. And of course business is the buzz word and the only thing that counts.

I think it's fantastic that artists like Dolly and George Jones are still able to make music the way Johnny Cash did right up to his death. Keep doing it the way you do it, Dolly, and to hell with the accountants

GRETCHEN WILSONALL JACKED UP Sony/Nashville/Epic Records EK 94169
Gretchen Wilson comes from the same county as Charlie Daniels and if he says she's OK then that's good enough for me because ole Charlie has been one of my favourites since the early 80s. This gal is styled as a redneck good-old-girl country singer and I think that's a good description because she has a country voice but she can really rock it.

All Jacked Up is a very diverse collection of songs of which she has co-written 7 of the 11 songs and among the co-writers is Matraca Berg who is quite a heavyweight scribe these days as well as being a good chanter in her own right.

The majority of the songs are very much fifth gear stuff but she enters the ballad zone on I Don't Feel Like Loving You Today and Raining On Me and she gets political on behalf of the little guy in Politically Uncorrect; Merle Haggard joins her on this serious but slightly humorous dig at the PC brigade.

A little extra bonus is Good Morning Heartache which is not listed on the cover and displays her talents in the blues/jazz genre. Quite a tasty track.

So if you like your country music rocky and honky with the occasional low gear then this is the album to be buying and listening to with the volume turned up as loud as the neighbours will allow.

VAN MORRISON PAY THE DEVIL -- Polydor 9876290
I remember when I first heard Morrison do Brown Eyed Girl, I wasn't bowled over with his vocals but I thought the record was good and I've continued to enjoy it to this day but I haven't been knocked out by anything he's done since. Now he's a huge star all around the world and I just shake my head in disbelief every time I hear him. There must be something special about him but whatever it is it fails me completely. I read the over-glowing press release which says Morrison's distinctive voice melds seamlessly with country classics written by songwriting masters such as Hank Williams etc. Yea, Hank would turn in his grave. Morrison has a lousy singing voice and it pains me to listen to him gargling his way through good country songs just as much as it grieves me to think how many good and genuine British country singers have struggled for decades trying to get a major record company to take notice and along comes this geezer and records a so-called country album. Well it isn't a country album or at least not a good country album because the singing is deplorable; he and Elvis Costello make a pair, he can't sing either. They've both recorded country songs because they think you don't have to be a good singer, well that's true up to a point, some of the old guys didn't have great singing voices but none of them sounded as bad as Morrison and Costello.

I managed to suffer through to track 3 without cutting my throat and then I stopped it playing rather than take a chance with my life. What is it with these guys and their record companies who can trample all over our music but our top performers can't get to first base? Oh well, time to put the soapbox away and chuck Morrison into the nearest bin. Whatever you do, don't buy this album before hearing it first, as the cartoon character says, You'll be sorry.

JACE EVERETT JACE EVERETT - Epic Records 82876 76759 2
This is Everett's debut album for Epic so it seems natural to put his own name on twice although it does make it a bit awkward for the buyer or the reviewer, but it's been done many times before and will no doubt be done again; I prefer a catchy title that sticks in the mind, something that makes you think and links in with the artist's name to help you remember that name.

This young guy has been through the mill and around it a time or two so he's paid his dues one way or another and all that is reflected in these ten tunes ranging from hell-raising rockers to soul-baring ballads; a sort of Jace Everett musical biography.

He grew up in Texas singing along to the likes of Don Williams, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings to name just a few and they don't come much better than those few. Everett wrote or co-wrote six of the ten songs so he's not just another pretty face and I've got a feeling we'll be hearing much more of this latest Texas adoptee.

Give this guy a listen and I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised and seriously considering shelling out a few quid for his output.
KENNY CHESNEY - THE ROAD AND THE RADIO Sony/BMG 82876729602
This album from Kenny Chesney sports the hit single WHO YOU'D BE TODAY all in all there are eleven new songs on this Chesney fans. The man was voted Enter-tamer Of The Year by the Country Music Association and the Academy Of Country Music ~ for 2004 so his credentials are quite high. His last album From An Old Blue Chair went platinum and hit Billboard's number one slot in their all-genre top 200 and that has to be a rare occurrence. He was also awarded ASCAP Voice Of Music this year so it looks like he'll have to buy a shed for all the awards. Chesney is always committed to hard work and it shows in his lyrics as he spreads his life in front of you like a big book and as his voice weaves around the various aspects ofhis life you begin to know all about him and what it's taken to get him where he is. Each and every song spells out a part ofhis life and The Road And The Radio is like a musical biography of the hurdles of life. Listen to this al­bum and you will know Kenny Chesney and each time you listen again you will know a little bit more about him. This CD is destined to be every bit as successful as his others and it's going to bring him an even wider audience.

Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson,Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings TIlE ROAD GOES ON FOREVER
This was the third and fmal collaboration from these four superstars under the collective heading of THE HIGHWAYMEN. This commemorative edition sports six bonus tracks making 17 in all and a DVD. The CD features songs by all four artists plus songs written by June Carter Cash, Steve Earl, John R Cash, Robert Earl Keen, Billy Joe Shaver and Steve Bruton. It also includes amongst the bonus tracks a never-before-heard outtake of If He Came Back Again. I hope they re-release the other two Highwaymen albums as they were both excellent; they would make a great double album which I'm sure many country music fans would love as well as many general music fans

The song The Road Goes On Forever is a piece of brilliant writing as it puts a life-time into four minutes; an ability I very much admire. The DVD is a behind the scenes documentary, filmed in the re­cording studio by producer, Don Was and includes the video for the single It Is What It Is. It's full of friendly and sometimes biting banter between the four of them but shows their camaraderie and respect for each other. The Highwaymen will never perform. again because Waylon Jenmngs died in 2002 and Johnny Cash passed away in 2003 just a few short months after he lost his wife June. This collection will be a treasure for all fans of good music an genuinely talented performers.

 

Here is an open letter from Mel: "There are some rumours flying around that I've had a heart attack and at least one that I'm dead. Actually, I've just spent 10 days in Doncaster Royal Infirmary suffering with 2 swollen discs in my lower back that took away my mobility completely.

I am now using a wheel chair to get about out doors and a walking frame ndoors and my future prospects of mobility recovery do not look, good >o I have decided to end my career in Country Music once and for all. '. know I made this announcement about 3 years ago and then carried on n a greatly reduced capacity, but this time I won't be able to change my nind.

The dates have been cancelled and the equipment is being put up for sale. I would like to thank everyone who has booked me over my 42 year stretch and everyone in the media who have been so kind to me (well, most of the time!).

I've enjoyed my career in Country Music as an entertainer, singer/ songwriter and broadcaster and I have had some really wonderful moments. I've also made a lot of very dear friends amongst fans and peers

It saddens me greatly that I won't be going on stage to sing anymore, singing has been the joy of my life, but while the voice is still as good ever (so they tell me), the old legs have decided they want to take early rtirement.

My wife, Ivy, is also saddened that I've had to give it up; she has always been my biggest fan and supporter, but she also worried terribly about me over the years.

I have recently had 2 of my novels published by Paul Mould Publishing of Boston, Lines and I'm looking forward to (fingers crossed) a career of some degree as a novelist. So the old adage "As one door closes, another opens" is looking like the real thing for me.

In the meantime I would, once again, like to thank everyone who has helped and supported me along the way.

I would especially like to thank my very good friend, John Tye, who has been everywhere with me these last few years and made it possible for me to carry on as long as I did. Depending on my mobility, I may see some of you at one or two ven­ ues in a visiting capacity, but my entertaining days are over.

I wish all of you all the very best and at the risk of sounding corny: 'Keep It Country'.

 
 


...ATTENTION ALL WESTERN ENTHUSIASTS...
‘TO HELL WITH THE BADGE’ & ‘DEATH ON A ROPE’
by Mel Hague
** NEW **
- TWISTED RIVER -

-The Grey Man -
E-mail me
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Cheque or Postal Orders to: Mel Hague,
37 Wroot Road, Finningley,
Doncaster, DN9 3DR.
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www.melhaguecountry-western.com

“I sat up all night reading TO HELL WITH THE BADGE and I haven’t done that in years, I couldn’t put it down. Brilliant!”
Jack Slade, Broken Barrel CMC, Leicester.

© 2007 Country Music & Dance Scotland