Hello again, another batch of CDs to review, and quite a selection covering many different tastes and styles, all well within the confines of good Country Music. There’s Hank and Jim and a singing cowboy, the ‘First Lady Of Country Dance’ and a British songwriter, George IV and Sandy on the same CD, while Daniel and The Flying Burritos are definitely not (on the same CD that is). There's lots more too, so a new needle in the stylus, the turntable is up to speed and oft we jolly well go…
WILLIAMS - THE COLLECTION SPECTRUM RECORDS (UNIVERSAL)
JIM REEVES - GENTLEMAN JIM - THE HAYRIDE YEARS - SUNDOWN - TKOMAGNUM
16 tracks running 39 minutes makes up this collection. Its the remaining 15 recordings of performances by Jim on the Louisiana Hayride between 1954 and 58. It opens with a promotional spot for Abbott & Fabor Records, featuring snatches of songs by various artistes, and band 4 includes the Louisiana Hayride Theme and AFN promo. Bands 2 & 3 are from April 55, Band 4 July 1955, band 5 from August 55, and 6 to 16 is from "Country Style USA" on AFN (American Forces Network) broadcast on 15th December 1958. The signal fades at times but the voice, as we came to know it, was still at least a foot away from the microphone. The vocal on ‘Am I Losing You’ shows the new style was just around the corner. For the country fan who likes real history with his collection this one is for you, its also for the Jim Reeves collector and for those who like their country from the 50's.
OTHER SONGS: Red Eyed and Rowdy / Everywhere You Go / Penny Candy / Yonder Comes A Sucker / r m Hurting Inside / My Lips are Sealed / Roly Poly / According to my Heart / Have I told You Lately That I Love You / I Wonder /Kentucky Waltz / Waiting For A Train / Each Time You Leave / Four Walls / Yonder Comes A Sucker. (www.tkomagnum.co.uk) (Available from all good record stores or direct on Tel No 01494450606).
SCOOTER LEE - MORE OF THE BEST (and then some) - UNIVERSAL RECORDS
Now in complete contrast, it's time for a listen to the undisputed First Lady of Country Dance. This 21 track CD holds 13 previously released tracks, classed here as ..."a second round of Scooter Lee's Greatest Hits. but also 8 BRAND NEW SONGS never released by Scooter before " Now I hate to be picky, but greatest hits? where? what chart? which country? or is this just publicity hyperbole...Oh yes, and another thing," BRAND NEW SONGS", bad choice of words, surely new recordings would suffice, as "Splish Splash" and "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" are certainly not new songs. This recording and Scooter Lee don't need hype like that, as this CD stands up along side all her previous recordings, quality songs with quality musicians from a highly respected singer/songwriter in my book. I've always said, when reviewing Scooter's CDs, this is not just linedance music. There's everything here for a good hours dancing from out and out country through Cajun music, waltzing, rock 'n roll, disco and even retro mix. The song titles lend themselves to the dance titles in most cases, and 9 of the songs have Scooter's name behind them. Recommended for the dancer and for the country fan, who doesn't mind the odd non-country song included. The CD comes with a 24-page booklet with 19 dance scripts. This was released to coincide with her tour in Britain in June/July, sorry I missed her in Edinburgh, but maybe next time.
REX ALLAN- THE ARIZONA COWBOY -BRITISH ARCHIVE OF COUNTRY MUSIC
The career of the Singing Cowboy-Actor-songwriter and all around nice guy, Rex Allan is well documented and while his light never shone as brightly as Roy Rogers or Gene Autry, he did leave his mark as the ‘Last of the Singing Cowboys’. His career in the movies came during the arrival of TV and the demise of the singing cowboy movies, but his 4 year stint and the impression he made, was to last the remainder of his life. His pride and joy was the singing career of his son Rex Allan Jr. in the late 70's early 80's as he told me when I met and interviewed him in Dallas back then. Now this CD has 20 tracks taken from his movies and other recordings between 1950 and 1954. The musical backing includes the Lew Douglas and the Harry Geller Orchestras, with the Jack Halloran Choir and the Hud Conlon Singers. The other recordings have Jerry Byrd, Judy Perkins and the Arizona Wranglers as seen in the movies. There's quite a few novelty songs, ‘Feudin & Fightin’; ‘Ten More Miles’; ‘Mister & Mississippi’; ‘Naggin’ and ‘Yodelin Crazy’. His rich voice shines on the ballads like ‘Sentimental Fool’; ‘Blues in my Mind’; ‘I'm So Alone With The Crowd’ and ‘A Petal From A Faded Rose’. His best known hit ‘Take It Back & Change It For A Boy’ is also included. This is another gem from the Archive and certainly worth a listen if you like the singing cowboy genre, or want to collect golden oldies. Available direct from Tel: 01304 205000 or at www.bacountrymusic.fsnet.co.uk
THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS-SIN CITY-THE VERY BEST OF UNIVERSAL
Back in 1968 the Burrito Brothers came together after Gram Parson left the Byrds and met Chris Hillman. Chris Ethridge and Sneaky Pete Kleinlow joined and they started recording. Their first album was ‘The Gilded Palace Of Sin’, followed by ‘Burrito Deluxe’, and both these albums are now together on this CD. (Chris Ethridge left before the 2nd album and was replaced by Bernie Leadon, while they added Michael Clarke on drums ). The additional tracks are ‘The Train Song’; ‘Six days On The Road’ and ‘Close Up The Honky Tonks’ (which became the title track to a later album). Altogether 25 tracks running 78 minutes on one CD. Now the songwriting partnerships of Parsons/Hillman/Ethridge and Bernie Leadon give us 18 of the songs, Chip Moman-Dan Penn give us 2 and other songs include Red Simpson's Honky Tonks, Earl Green's Six Days and Harlan Howard's "Image of Me", Bob Dylan's "If You Gotta Go" and Mick Jaggar's "Wild Horses". There are additional musicians on must tracks,( different drummers on the 1st album until Clarke arrived,) and Byron Berline and Leon Russell on Fiddle & piano on the 2nd. This is 70's nostalgia and for those who didn't think they were country at the time, listen to the this CD and I think you will change your mind!
GEORGE HAMILTON IV & SANDY KELLY - WE WILL MEET AGAIN - CASTLE SELECT RECORDS.
This 12 track CD from George & Sandy consists of new recordings of Traditional Irish Music, Country and Folk ballads, and a fine fusion of sounds from both sides of the Atlantic. Recorded in Ballina/Co. Mayo, and Nashville. The Nashville end was produced by George V (Hege) while the Irish end was produced by Mike Kelly who also played bass. George opens the CD with a solo version of "Long Long Before Your Time", Sandy goes solo next on "Leaving Enniskillen". They share "The Famine Song" .Sandy sings "Maggie", George "Immigrant Eyes" and they share "The Fields of Athenry". The other 6 songs are "From Clare to There"(George),"The Isle of Innisfree"(Sandy),"When the rain comes" Duet), "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy" Sandy), "Rare Old Times" (George) and "We Will Meet Again"( duet). This is as traditional as it comes, wonderful arrangements, lovely laid back musical backing, featuring fiddle, steel, uileann pipes, acoustic guitars, mandolin and keyboards, all is a gentle setting. I must give a special mention to the title track written by George V, a lovely song and this version should be released here as a single. Could do wonders. I won't bore you with all the problems I had with this CD to get to this stage, but it was certainly well worth the wait.
SONGS: Roll Back The Rug/Pride & Joy/Traces/Last Time Uh-Huh/Little Jalapeno/Wonderful One!/Wanna Make You Mine/ Splish Splash/Moving On Up/If You Love Me/If You Don't Straighten Up/Twisting The Night away/Let Me call You Sweetheart/On Your Own/I Love My Louisiana man/Well Oiled Lovin' Machine/Barefottin'/Rock & Roll Waltz/Steppin' Out/Wasn't That A Party/Retro Rex.
TERRY McKENNA--SONGWRITER--HOJO RECORDS
Here's 12 songs, covering 44 minutes, all from the same songwriter or as it says on the label its " A Totally Terry Production". Terry's been around the block a time or two on the British scene from his start in the early 70's when he won awards for his songs. This collection has a few gems and while the production may suffer from lack of finance at time the songs more than make up. There are some great story songs here like on "Emma" "They Have Their Dreams" "The Songwriter" and "I Remember Rosie". The love songs and broken love-affair songs work well and I'm sure that others could have successes with these songs. There's a couple of folky songs, but mainly I see all these songs with lovely smooth fiddle and steel in a different setting musically. This is available direct only on 07715942567 or www.hometown.aol.co. uk/songwritermck/myhomepage.
DANIEL O'DONNELL - THE DANIEL O'DONNELL SHOW - ROSETTE RECORDS.
27 tracks on 2 CDs recorded in Killarny last year is the latest release from Daniel on Rosette records. The video made No. 4 on the Video Chart on its release. This made the charts too at the end of July. If you've seen Daniel's concert then this is a great souvenir, if you haven't this gives you the show for ever more. Its his first "LIVE"album in ten years and only 4 songs are repeated, Stand Beside Me, I Just Want To Dance With You, Somewhere Between (duet with Mary Duff) and How Great Thou Art. Most stars who do a 2nd live album usually do mostly the same programme, so this comes as a bonus. Theres 5 duets with Mary Duff, and 3 medley's, making it 34 songs in all. Lovely recording, great mixture of mainly country songs ,and the big bonus is the price, a double CD for the price of a single. One to add to your ever growing Daniel collection, and as ever a quality recording and an excellent "LIVE" show.
SONGS:(CD l) Stand Beside Me/Home to Donegal/Medley/Waltz Across Texas/Old Dungarvan Oak/Medley/I Heard the Bluebirds Sing(Duet)/Vaya Con Dios (Duet)/Belfast/You're the Reason/I Can't See Me Without You/An Irish Lullaby/Galway Bay/My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You: (CD 2) Our House Is A Home/Among The Wicklow Hills/My Irish Molly (duet) Hello Darlin'/Only This Moment In Time/Green Green Grass of Home/Medley/Somewhere Between (Duet)/Top Of The World (Duet)/ Roads of Kildare/I Just want To Dance With You/Rivers Of Babylon/How Great Thou Art
CARSON ROBINSON and his Pioneers--GOING BACK TO TEXAS BRITISH ARCHIVE OF COUNTRY MUSIC
Here's another gem from the Archive,17 tracks from the "Life gets Tejus" man. 17 classic songs running for 67 minutes. His long career from the 20' s through to the middle 50' s was not without incident, like his parting with Vernon Dalhart. He then formed his Buckaroo's with John & Bill Mitchell and Bill's wife Pearl, who toured world-wide for many years. The name was changed to the Pioneers for the European audiences and for Radio Luxemburg sponsors Oxydol. There's simple backing with harmonica, guitars and banjo at times, while others have the full treatment with full orchestra and choir." Cowboys Home in Heaven" "South of the Border" " Going Back to Texas" are included but the opening medley runs 8 minutes and includes "Open Up Them Pearly Gates", "Will the Angels Play their Harps For Me" " Casey Jones" " Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie" "Hallelujah I'm A Bum" "Barnacle Bill The Sailor" "Why Did I get Married" "Why Am I A Hobo?" "Out On The Prairie" and "Hand Me Down My Walking Cane". Other gems include "The Dame I Left Behind Me" "Stackolee Blues" and "Makin A Record Parts 1 & 2".
SPEED LIMIT - NO 7 - M.J.MUSIC
It goes without saying that Speed Limit are one of Britain's Top Duos and the clear cut voice of Angie and outstanding steel playing of Tony make them a joy to listen to on CD or "Live". This great CD shows the duo off to perfection, a fine balance of tempos, mainly new American country songs faithfully reproduced here. The oldies include 2 Ed Bruce songs,Everythings a Waltz and First Taste Of Texas while the Lorrie Morgan song If You Came Back From Heaven is the only slow ballad on the 13 tracks. Wayne Golden plays Electric & acoustic guitars, Stuart Payne plays bass and drum backings, Scott Newstead plays keyboards, and Mervyn Flitter engineers and produces the lot. Quality recording from a quality duo which should be in the awards when they come around. The CD is aimed at the dancers too as the BPMs are included.
‘DIAMOND’ DOUG BROOKINGS - FROGTOWN RECORDS. (1) HIDING BEHIND YOUR HEART
What a delight, the opening phrases from Doug on "Hiding Behind Your Heart" on this 12 track CD.He writes all the songs except the opener and closer," Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "America The Beautiful". Vocally he sounds like Marty Robbins at times, like Jim Reeves at others, but his voice has that certain richness more suitable to the slower songs on this CD.Full country backing of lead, acoustic, bass and steel guitars, drums and keyboards gives this album an overall rich country sound.
McGRAW - TIMES HAVE CHANGED - THATCH RECORDS
Here's another 13 track solid country album from Jim McGraw who first came to attention when he appeared on the Country HotDisc and Euro Charts with previous singles. The musicians are credited as the Jim McGraw Band only ,no details. John Boutkam wrote all the songs, arranged the music, produced the abum,engineered the sessions, mixed and mastered the results, John co wrote one song with Geoffrey Crust "Eagles Have to Fly" and they won the American Eagle Award as International Songwriters of the Year 2001. The music has a edge more associated with the South (Alabama-Georgia), although recorded in Florida. Loved "No Bitchin' Zone" an anti-wife song, "So far" and anti-war song and "Eagles have To Fly'. Available from Country On Broadway.
As ever KEEP ON KEEPING IT COUNTRY,
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