Reviews by Mel Hague

TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD -TENNESSEE ERNIE MEETS THE GIRLS
Jasmine Records - JASMCD 3518
Ford has always been one of my favourite singers because I like male singers who sound like men; Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Ed Bruce are more of the men who sound like men. If I want to hear a singer in the top register I prefer it to be a female vocalist; falsettos make me cringe almost as much as wobbly voices. Ford is generally regarded as a country singer, but I that is mainly because so much of his early output was hillbilly and a good deal of his later output was country as well but his hit making period in the 50s was very much pop with often a slight country flavour. Ford crossed over when the term was confined to border crossings from one country to another. He's left behind a legacy of top hits from "16 Tons" to "Give Me Your Word" to "River Of No Return" but he's also well remembered for his hillbilly hit "Shotgun Boogie".
You won't find any of these songs on this collection because it's dedicated to the girls who sang with him on his radio shows in the early 50s. That's the one piece of information that's missing from this collection; where and when were these recordings made? I'll assume it's as above and get on with it.
Of the eight girls joining Ernie only Sue Thompson is actually a country singer, but the rest are all fine singers having paid there dues with some of the top big bands of the late 30s and 40s and into the 50s and they handle the country songs with ease.
Speaking of bands, Ernie and the girls are backed up by bandleader Billy Liebert on accordion, Speedy West on steel guitar, Billy Strange or Jimmy Bryant on lead guitar, Harold Hensley on fiddle and George Bruns on bass. If you want to hear some excellent 50s style picking then it's worth buying this album for the band. I'm not an accordion fan, but Billy Liebert is brilliant. The other girls are Lou Dinning, Helen Forrest, Jeanne Gayle, Roberta Lee, Kay St. Germaine, Helen O'Connell and Bucky Tibbs and it's no easy task to single out anyone of them as being a favourite so I wont.

GEORGE JONES -THE GOSPEL COLLECTION "Sings the Greatest Stories Ever Told"
BNA Records - BNAO7863-67063-2
Jones pulled legendary producer Billy Sherrillout of retirement to help him with this recording of gospel music on a double CD containing 24 of the best known songs of this genre. He also pulled in Patti Page to join him on the classic "PRECIOUS MEMORIES" and she didn't sound bad at all, in fact she sounded rather good for her 76 years. Jonesy sounds pretty good as well considering he's turned 70. I think the secret to voice longevity is to keep singing. If you retire for a few years and come back, the voice becomes weak and is just too old to strengthen up to the previous standard and Jones and Patti Page have just carried on throughout their later years.
I'm not a big fan of George Jones, but I respect his ability and his stand on country music and I'm not really turned on by gospel music. I like a little now and then and I would never be able to play two CDs of it back to back. But I have to say that this is class; excellent production, of course, excellent vocals, of course again and a fine selection of songs to please the discerning gospel fan. Leaving aside the obvious songs like, Amazing Grace, Why Me Lord, Peace In The Valley and The Old Rugged Cross, the album is awash with musical style and grace and is a credit to both George Jones and gospel music.

© 2004 Country Music & Dance Scotland