Hands up all those who remember Faron Young - yea I thought so, hardly anybody, well you’d have to be 50+ to have even heard of him being as his last really big hit was It’s Four In The Morning in 1971, which happens to be missing from this album. Of course it's an album of country standards not a Faron Young hits collection, but even so I would have thought that Four In The Morning would have been classed as a standard by now and certainly its inclusion would have greatly helped to sell the album. The collection sounds pretty dated by today’s standards but then most of the songs go back to the 50s and 60s when the Hillbilly Heartthrob was going as strong as any of that era. It’s a time capsule from a time when country music was at its best. You only have to listen to the Willie Nelson hit Hello Walls, which Young very nearly made his own, to know that this was a great era for country music and the music that turned on 90% of the country fans around today - line dancers excepted.
The obligatory Hank Williams songs are here with Young giving us his pristine version of I Can’t Help It, Your Cheatin’ Heart and Hey Good Lookin’ and he does a slightly Latin American version of Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes, which is totally different from the George Jones offering on his album. Faron Young’s star faded in the eighties and sadly he took his own life when he found he couldn’t cope with loss of fame and fortune.Cracking stuff from a great country artist and you won’t need a mortgage for the purchase.

Almost an hour of the housewife’s favourite, Glen Campbell, 20 tracks of the old smoothy who cracked it back in the 60s with Rhinestone Cowboy, Galveston and Wichita Lineman. But this is a country classics album so his hits aren’t on here apart from Rhinestone, which I assume has become a classic and I guess that’s pretty fair comment. Campbell has never been able to float my boat, I liked most of his hits but he was just too smooth, too much showbiz for my taste but I don’t deny his talent, he’s a good chanter and a very accomplished guitar picker. There are five Hank Williams songs on here and they’re done very smooth with full orchestration and are much more Las Vegas than hillbilly. Everyone has their own interpretations of songs but these Hank songs have been diluted of the Williams country style and I find them a bit boring. Help Me Make It Through The Night was ground down the same way along with All I Have To Do Is Dream. In fact nothing happens on this album until Rhinestone pops up on the seventh track, Bonaparte’s Retreat on the 13th, If Not For You on the 16th track and Homeward Bound on the 19th. I’ll probably have the British Housewife’s Association baying for my blood but this album leaves me needing paracetomol and a strong drink. At £6.99 it’s a good buy for Campbell fans.

There are only 19 tracks on this Gold offering, but it runs over 67 minutes so the value is still there and although Kenny Rogers is now another Las Vegas type performer I still like quite a lot of his music and there’s some good stuff on this collection. There are five songs with Dottie West with whom he had a very successful stretch back in the late 70s early 80s and a couple of his huge hits like Sweet Music Man, Coward Of The County and The Gambler along with one of his early hits with the First Edition, Something’s Burning.
Rogers puts in some pretty credible versions of, Green Green Grass of Home, Desperado, Son Of Hickory Holler’s Tramp, Abraham, Martin & John and the brilliant Puttin’ In Overtime At Home. All in all I think Rogers has accounted for a hefty collection of classics in his own hits from a spread of some four decades and there aren’t many that can say that. Most performers would be happy to have one hit become a standard.
If you don’t have anything by Rogers then this would be a good place to start, very good value at £6.99.

Ain’t it marvellous, the majors don’t want him on their roster, but they’ll put out his old stuff. I guess we should be thankful for these small mercies and 22 tracks for £6.99 is certainly easy on the pocket. In Jones’s early career he recorded a lot of Hank Williams stuff and there are no less than four of Hank’s best on here along with a couple of Bob Wills’, a Roy Acuff and even Johnny Cash’s Give my Love to Rose, which I wasn’t too impressed with, a bit too melodic for me having grown up with the Cash version. She Thinks I Still Care and The Race Is On are a couple of his chart hits and there is a wonderful version of Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes, which was a country hit before it became a pop hit back in the 50s. It’s a very good mixture and if you’re a recent Jones fan and want to hear his early stuff then this little bargain is an ideal addition to your collection.
Jonesy was born in 1931 and at 72 he is still recording today and still making great country music despite being shunned by the major labels and country radio in general. He’ll always have fans in the UK and most programmers will find a slot for him on country radio, because we still love real country music.

JOE BROWN at the CIVIC, DONCASTER 20 March 2003
I’ve seen Joe Brown with his big band on several occasions at country music festivals where he’s done a pastiche rock’n’roll/country show which has been loud, raucous and somewhat out of place. I loved his 60s chart hits and I was hoping that he would do that kind of show. When I took my seat I saw two mike stands on stage, a snare drum on a tall stand with a foot operated tambourine, a double bass, a couple of acoustic guitars and a mandolin and I thought that this was going to be an interesting night. Joe came on stage and took up station in front of the centre mike and three guys; Dave on bass, Neil on guitar and Phil on the drum, gathered around the other mike and they all launched into an acoustic version of Eddy Cochran’s Summertime Blues. For the next hour we were treated to All Shook Up, Amazing Grace with Joe on bottle neck, Killing The Blues where he used both guitar and mandolin, a couple of Irish jigs/reels, Hitting The High Spots Now with Joe on electric ukulele with a funny skit on George Formally as he might have sounded on an electric uke and an excellent version of Lullaby On Ragtime. He did a couple of very good Everly Brothers songs with Phil taking Phil Everly’s harmony, Buddy Holly’s Raining In My Heart, Donegan’s Puttin’ On The Style and ended the first half with a brilliant four part, a cappella rendition of two Leadbelly songs made all the more authentic with a great bass line from Neil. The second half was more the standard four piece band set up but no less entertaining as he breezed through his own That’s What Love Will Do, Bird Dog, Mark Knopfler’s The Next Time I’m In Town, Don Gibson’s Sea Of Heartbreak, his own A Picture Of You and I’m Henery The Eighth I Am, Rockin’ Pneumonia And Boogie Woogie Flu and Ronnie Hawkins’ 40 days. The crowd demanded a couple of encores and he finished the night with a lovely version of I’ll See You In My Dreams. I really can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t have enjoyed at least part of his show and I certainly enjoyed the entire evening. I expected a good show from Joe Brown but what I got was a cracking two hours plus of 100% pure entertainment.

© 2004 Country Music & Dance Scotland