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Bill Monroe  -> Heather Myles



BILL MONROE Bear Family BCD 15423 Blue Moon Of Kentucky ● CD $84.98
This four CD compilation is the bluegrass fanatic's dream. This is the complete Bill Monroe discography from the time he joined Decca (now MCA) in 1950 until 1958, 109 selections in all, including three selections never released commercially, all in pristine sound and with a detailed 65 page booklet by bluegrass authorities Charles Wolfe and Neil Rosenberg. Included in the booklet is a detailed discography listing all U.S. 45, 78, Ep, and Lp release information from the period, (and what a period it was), along with detailed session personnel listings. The classic Flatt-Scruggs-Chubby Wise band had by now disbanded, and Monroe had left Columbia for Decca, but his influence on the music he had fathered was far from over. If anything, the period covered here had consequences as far reaching in the history of bluegrass as the previous eras, for it was at this time that the Bluegrass Boys became the training grounds for such future greats as Jimmy Martin, Vassar Clements, Sonny Osborne, Bobby Hicks, Kenny Baker, and countless others, including such unheralded geniuses as fiddler Red Taylor, banjoist Don Stover, and fiddler Tex Logan. Also included here are the only five selections Carter Stanley recorded with the Bluegrass Boys, including the magnificent Get Down On Your Knees And Pray. There is also the Bluegrass Boy-less session run by Owen Bradley in an attempt to "modernize" Monroe's sound, as well as the eight sides cut in an abortive way to record a Jimmy Rodgers tribute album. Also included here are the original recordings of such classics as Wheel Hoss/Roanoke/Uncle Pen/You'll Find Her Name Written There/Scotland Big Mon/Rawhide, and countless others. In addition, this collection illustrates fully how Monroe's music changed to fit the talents and needs of the many musicians who passed through the band during this fertile period. A great buy, the perfect Christmas present for the bluegrass fanatic, and quite a monument to the man who just celebrated his fiftieth year on the Grand Old Opry recently. (RP)

BILL MONROE Bear Family BCD 15529 Bluegrass, 1959-1969 ● CD $84.98
The second Bill Monroe box set contains four CD's, 120 tracks in all, and continues the complete documentation of his recording career with Decca. This set issues Monroe's '59-'69 recordings, and also includes a wonderful 28 page booklet complete with discography and great vintage photos. Written and compiled by Neil Rosenberg and Charles Wolfe, the booklet succeeds admirably in placing Bill's work in proper historical perspective, as he was being influenced by new events and personalities in the 60's. During the "folk boom" of the time Decca encouraged him to record his versions of old chestnuts like Cottonfields/ Nine Pound Hammer/ Darlin' Corey/ Shady Grove and others that were being sanitized by urban folkies. The rise of folk and bluegrass festivals led to exposure to new audiences, which led to young folkies like Bostonians Peter Rowan and Bill Keith becoming formidable musicians, and eventual Bluegrass Boys. The inclusion of these and other young players like sometime Kentucky Colonel Roland White and the underrated banjoist Tony Ellis helped spread the popularity of the music - and the musicians had their influence on Bill's music as well. Bill Keith in particular, with his unique "chromatic" approach to the banjo, caused banjo fiddle tunes to be featured more; although his tenure was only nine months, his influence was immense. His entire recorded output with Monroe is here, including masterpieces like Salt Creek/ Devil's Dream/ Sailor's Hornpipe/ Pike County Breakdown/ Shenandoah Breakdown. Of the many great fiddlers employed by Monroe, three stand out here. Kenny Baker's talent became known worldwide during this period, and the man Monroe considered talented enough to play his Uncle Pen's fiddle tunes is featured throughout this set. Richard Greene, the young classically trained violinist from Los Angeles, is present on 14 tracks here, playing some of the most imaginative and expressive fiddle of the time. Byron Berline recorded only three tracks with Bill, but two of them, Gold Rush/ Sally Goodin are classics. Del McCoury, most Monrovian of the current bluegrass singers, served his apprenticeship with the master during this period, also recording only three cuts - Roll On, Buddy Roll On/ Legend Of The Blue Ridge Mountains feature fantastic vocal duets with Del and Bill. Among the other diversely talented Bluegrass Boys here are future honky tonker Carl Butler, banjoists Lamar Grier and Vic Jordan, fiddlers Benny Williams, Buddy Spicher, Bobby Hicks and Dale Potter, the stalwart Joe Stuart on several instruments, and on and on - throughout this era, players considered time spent with Monroe as a valuable apprenticeship. It should be noted that during this time Bill was singing, playing and composing at the peak of his powers - many of his best recordings and compositions are here, including Crossing The Cumberlands/ Kentucky Mandolin/ Dark As The Night (Blue As The Day) and many others. This collection is a wonderful document, richly deserved and very welcome, particularly because much of this material has been long unavailable and MCA's recent "Country Hall Of Fame" CD is woefully inadequate to the task of covering his extensive career. An invaluable addition to any serious bluegrass fan's collection - highly recommended. (RP)

BILL MONROE Bear Family BCD 15606 Bluegrass, 1970-1979 ● CD $84.98
4 CDS, 105 tracks, 4 hrs 40 mins, recommended This four CD set is the third in Bear Family's Monroe reissue series, and while the music here is on the whole less compelling than on the first two volumes, there's a lot of good bluegrass here, and most dedicated fans will want to add this to their collections. In addition to all Monroe's studio work during this period, the set includes the material recorded for the 2 LP live "Bean Blossom" album, featuring the bands of Jimmy Martin, Jim & Jesse, Lester Flatt and Bill's son James Monroe. There's lots of fine bluegrass here on that set, including live versions of seldom or never recorded numbers by Bill's band, but most of the selections are familiar bluegrass fare by now, the album is readily available domestically and a lot of it isn't Bill Monroe! Also included are two albums featuring Bill's son James, one originally entitled "Father And Son", which includes the first recorded version of the now classic Walls Of Time, and another song that has become popular in the bluegrass repertoire, Tall Pines. "Together Again", recorded in 1978, featured both Bill's band at the time and James' band, The Midnight Ramblers. This session is notable in part for the first recording of Those Memories Of You, a now classic bluegrass trio written by James' banjo player Alan O'Bryant. The thirty two page booklet and discography included in the set are outstanding as usual with Bear Family, as are the notes by Charles Wolfe. (RP)

BILL MONROE Bear Family BCD 16399 Blue Moon Of Kentucky, 1936-1949 ● CD $189.98
Another fantastic production from Bear Family - this time a comprehensive reissue of all the early recordings by the "Father Of Bluegrass". This six CD box set features all 60 duets recorded for Bluebird between 1936 and 1938 by Bill and his brother Charlie, all 16 of his seminal recordings from 1940 and '41 with his first band called The Bluegrass boys plus all his classic Columbia sessions from 1945-49 with sidemen like Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise and other great musicians. It also includes many previously unissued alternate takes from the Columbia sessions plus a recently discovered master of the gospel song I'll Have A New Life. Altogether there are more than 160 tracks with impeccable sound. Set comes with a 100 page LP-sized hardcover books with extensive notes by Charles Wolfe, discography by Neil Rosenberg and dozens of rare photos, label shots, album covers and other memorabilia.

BILL MONROE Columbia CK 38904 Columbia Historic Edition ● CD $9.98
Historic Monroe recordings from 1945-47 with alternate takes and unreleased material. 10 songs with Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise and others. With the exception of one track, Shining Path, all these recordings have already been reissued by County & Rounder along with all his other Columbia sides!

BILL MONROE Columbia CK 53908 16 Gems ● CD $7.98
16 tracks, 45 min; essential. The release of these 16 cuts completes the reissue on CD begun with 1992's two CD set, "The Essential Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys", wherein, for whatever reason, alternate takes of the songs and tunes included here were used; these are the released versions. Included are five selections from 1945 including Sally Ann Forrester on accordion and Stringbean playing old time banjo, along with the great Chubby Wise on fiddle and Bill Westbrook on bass -- the music isn't quite yet what we have come to know as bluegrass, but it's close, and these are Bill's first recordings of the classics Kentucky Waltz/ True Life Blues/ Good-Bye Old Pal, and Bluegrass Special. The next ten selections are by what has come to be widely regarded as the first true bluegrass aggregation, featuring as it does Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, fiddler Chubby Wise, and bassist Howard Watts (Cedric Rainwater), recorded in 1946 and '47. Titles include Heavy Traffic Ahead/ I'm Going Back To Old Kentucky/ Bluegrass Breakdown/ Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong/ Remember The Cross, and Shine Hallelujah Shine. The last two tracks, Can't You Hear Me Calling and Travelin' This Lonesome Road, feature lead vocalist and guitarist Mac Wiseman, banjo player Rudy Lyle, and Jack Thompson on bass. It's good to have these original recodings on CD, however belatedly, no doubt a relief for Monroe completists, and the songs and tunes here, all classics, can serve nicely as an ideal introduction to Monroe's music to the novice. (RP)

BILL MONROE MCA 11048 The Music Of Bill Monroe From 1936 to 1994 ● CD $49.98
4 CDs, 98 tracks, 4 hrs 20 mins, essential. This remarkable production may serve for along time to come as the best recorded overview of the remarkable career of Bill Monroe, the man universally acknowledged as the father of bluegrass. It should, at long last, quiet critics like myself, who have longed for an adequate representation of Monroe's genius from MCA, who control all his studio recordings from 1950 to the present. Beautifully restored and remastered, this collection not only contains many great performances cut for Decca and MCA but includes classic performances from all his labels. There are two performances by the Monroe Brothers recorded for Bluebird in the 30s, a live Muleskinner Blues from the Grand Ole Opry in 1939, two selections from Bluebird featuring the first edition of The Bluegrass Boys (1940/41), six selections from Columbia (4 with Flatt & Scruggs) and versions of jerusalem Ridge and The Ashland Breakdown cut for County Records in the 70s featuring fiddler Kenny Baker. In addition, there are six previously unissued performances to frustrate any Monroe completist including live radio performances of Blue Moon Of Kentucky from 1955, Molly And Tenbrooks from 1958 (both from the Opry), The Girl In The Blue Velvet Band (new River Ranch, 1955) and a rousing version of You Won't Be Satisfied That Way from Beanblossom 1973. The recordings are accompanied by a remarkable 90 page booklet which includes a cogent, highly readable, and very informative history of Monroe's career, life and times, and is chock full of photographs, (many in color), and a helpful discography. The bulk of the recordings here are from Monroe's Decca and MCA sessions so those of you owne the three Bear Family boxes will have most of what is here; but for those who can't afford those, this a great representation of Monroe's work covering his whole career. Anyone who already has the Bear Familia boxes, the Columbia box, the Bluebird CD (already out of print!) and the marvelous recent Smithsonian Folkways live sets have already exhibited a fanaticism sufficient to indicate to me that, hey, you'll want this one too! (RP)

BILL MONROE Smithsonian Folkways 40063 Live Recordings 1956-69 - Off The Record Vol. 1 ● CD $15.98
27 tracks, 75 min., essential. These previously unreleased live recordings of the father of bluegrass (in performances, jams, workshops, and reunited with brothers Charlie and Birch) are a treasure trove of Monroe music, presenting titles and groups which have never been recorded elsewhere. Taken from private tapes of Ralph Rinzler, Monroe's personal manager, these recordings shed light on a time when Monroe's career was in eclipse. By the end of this period, he had begun reaping the benefits of the folk boom, along with many of his disciples. Monroe's career is exhaustively examined in the excellent 25-page booklet, and the music itself is full of surprises, featuring alumni Peter Rowan, Bill Keith, Tex Logan, Bobby Hicks, Del McCoury, Richard Greene, Lamar Grier, Edd Mayfield, Don Reno, and many more. Among the many highlights: a 1963 version of True Life Blues featuring Bill and Del McCoury, a duet by Bill and Hazel Dickens of Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms, and an impromptu version of When He Reached Down His Hand For Me from 1956 with Bill, Don Reno, Mac Wiseman, and Benny Martin. Most importantly, this recording affords us an opportunity to hear this great master, in full cry both vocally and instrumentally, lending a rare live immediacy to these very special performances. (RP)

BILL MONROE Vanguard 79518 The Early Years ● CD $13.98

BILL MONROE & DOC WATSON Smithsonian Folkways 40064 Live Duet Recordings 1963-80 - Off The Record Vol. 2 ● CD $15.98
17 tracks, 45 min., essential
This companion to Smithsonian 40063 further illuminates Monroe's career at the forefront of the 60's folk boom, when he was often paired with the legendary traditional country discovery of that time, Doc Watson. The duo made memorable music, largely undocumented until now except for a couple of 70's bootlegs. Although not strictly a bluegrass musician, Doc was and is a master in his own right, as important as any musician ever to emerge from the traditional music of this country. The two are most effective performing old time fiddle tunes on mandolin and guitar, Paddy On The Turnpike/ Soldier's Joy/ Fire On The Mountain/ Turkey In The Straw among others. Doc's rich baritone voice is also very effective in contrast to Bill's hard-edged tenor on such duets as What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul/ Where Is My Sailor Boy/ Have A Feast Here Tonight. Also included are traditional numbers like Foggy Mountain Top/ You Won't Be Satisfied That Way/ Banks Of The Ohio/ Memories Of You and others, including smoking versions of Kentucky Mandolin/ E. Tennessee Blues. Great 18-page booklet by Ralph Rinzler. (RP)

CHARLIE MONROE Cattle 301 Post War Country Classics (1946-1950) CD $18.98
24 tracks, 61 mins, highly recommended
Charlie Monroe's career is somewhat overshadowed by that of big brother Bill but he was a tremendous singer and was responsible for making some wonderful music. After he and Bill went their separate ways in 1938, Charlie put together a trio and did two sessions in '38 and '39 featuring songs very much in the Monroe Brothers vein (Charlie was lead vocalist on most of the Monroe Brothers sides). In the 40s (from whence these sides come) he formed a group which over the years featured a variety of great instrumentalists including Curley Seckler/ mandolin, Robert Lambert/bass, Ira Louvin/ mandolin, Orne Osborne/ mandolin & steel guitar, William "Red" Rector/ mandolin, Jerry Rivers/ fiddle, Don Helms/ guitar and others and a couple of the sessions features some wonderfully effective electric guitar work. About two thirds of the material is gospel and the rest is secular and it includes original songs by Charlie, traditional songs plus songs by A.P. Carter, Fred Rose, Ira & Charlie Louvin, Hank Williams and others. Superb stuff including There's No Depression In Heaven/ When The Angels Carry Me Home/ Don't Forget To Pray/ End Of Memory lane/ Walking With You In My Dreams/ Our Mansion Is Ready/ Gonna Shake Hands With Mother Over There/ Sugar Cane Mama/ 'Neath A Cold Grey Tomb Of Stone, etc. Sound is generally excellent and a booklet is included but the notes are in German. (FS)
CHARLIE MONROE: 'neath A Cold Grey Tomb Of Stone/ A Valley Of Peace/ Bringin' In The Georgia Mail/ Campin' Canaan's Land/ Don't Forget To Pray/ End Of Memory Lane/ Gonna Shake Hands With Mother Over There/ I Know You'll Understand/ I See A Bright Light Shining/ I'm Gonna Sing, Sing, Sing/ If We Never Meet Again/ Mother's Not Dead, She's Only Sleeping/ Our Mansion Is Ready/ Red Rocking Chair/ Springtime In Glory/ Sugar Cane Mama/ Sweetheart I Love You Best/ The Grave At The Foot Of The Mountain/ There's No Depression In Heaven/ They Didn't Believe It Was True/ Walking With You In My Dreams/ When The Angels Carry Me Home/ You'd Better Be Somewhere Praying/ You'll Find Me There

PATSY MONTANA B.A.C.M. 174 I'm Heading West To Texas ● CD $14.98
26 tracks, 72 mins, highly recommended
26 fine sides by the original "cowboy's sweetheart" herself ranging from her 1933 recording Homesick For My Old Cabin from one of her first sessions when she was recording under her real name of Rubye Blevins to her 1948 recording of Slap 'Er Down Again, Paw. The material her features both commercial recordings and radio transcriptions - the former feature top notch accompaniments from The Pairie Ramblers, The Sons Of The Pioneers or The Light Crust Doughboys. Sidemen on the 1945 transcriptions are unknown but do a fine job.
PATSY MONTANA: A Cowboy Honeymoon/ A Rip Snortin' Two Gun Gal/ Big Moon/ Blanket Me With Western Skies/ Blazin' The Trail/ Deep In The Heart Of Texas/ Dream On Little Cowboy/ Give Me A Home In Montana/ Goodbye Little Pinto/ Homesick For My Old Cabin/ I Don't Want Anyone But You/ I Found My Cowboy Sweetheart/ I'll Be Waiting For You Darlin'/ I'll Keep On Wishing For You/ I'll Wait For You/ I'm A Ridin' Up Old Kentucky Mountain/ I'm Goin' West To Texas/ I'm Gonna Have A Cowboy Wedding/ Old Black Mountain Trail/ Ridin' Old Paint/ Slap 'Er Down Again Paw/ Sunny San Antone/ That's Where The West Begins/ When I Found You In Montana/ Yellow Moon Keep Shining/ Your Own Sweet Darling Wife

PATSY MONTANA Cattle 333 Rose Of Oklahoma ● CD $18.98
22 tracks recorded between 1933 and 1948 with backing from The Light Crust Doughboys, Sons Of The Pioneers & others
PATSY MONTANA: A Cowboy's Honeymoon/ Big Moon/ Blanket Me With Western Skies/ Echoes From The Hills/ Gold Coast Express/ Homesick For My Old Cabin/ I Didn't Know The Gun Was Loaded/ I'll Be Waitin' For You Darlin'/ I'll Keep On Wishin' For You/ I'll Wait For You/ I'm A Ridin' Up The Old Kentucky Mountain/ I'm A-goin' West To Texas/ I'm Gonna Have A Cowboy Weddin'/ If I Could Only Learn To Yodel/ Mama Never Said A Word About Love/ Need You/ Rose Of Oklahoma/ Shine On Rocky Mountain Moonlight/ Sunny San Antone/ That's Where The West Begins/ The Home Corral/ You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven

PATSY MONTANA Cattle 334 Blazin The Trail ● CD $18.98
22 tracks recorded between 1935 and 1954 including commercial recordings and radio transcriptions. Includes sides with The Prairie Ramblers, Jack Wayne's Bar 10 Boys, etc. 
PATSY MONTANA: Are You Kissin' Someone Else (& Dave Denney)/ Blazin' The Trail/ Deep In The Heart Of Texas/ Dream On Little Cowboy/ Fuel On The Flame/ Give Me A Home In Montana/ Goodbye Little Pinto/ I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart No. 2 ((i've Found My Cowboy Sweetheart)/ Little Old Rag Doll/ Old Black Mountain Trail/ Slap 'er Down Agin, Paw/ Sweetheart Of The Saddle/ Those Two Little Kids Of Mine/ Water Witch Waltz/ What Does It Matter (if I Can't Share It With You)/ When I Found You In Montana/ When I Gets To Where I'm Goin'/ Yellow Moon Keep Shinin'/ Yodeling Ghost/ You Look Just Like Someone I Loved In Texas/ You're Only In My Arms (to Cry On My Shoulder)/ Your Own Sweet Darling Wife

PATSY MONTANA Cattle  240 The Pride Of The Prairie ● CD $18.98
A collection of 26 tracks from the most popular cowgirl vocalist recorded in the 30s and 40s usually accompanied by the excellent Prairie Ramblers.

PATSY MONTANA King 6103 Cowboy's Sweetheart ● CD $9.98
CD issue of Starday album - probably from the 60s featuring this pioneering Western singer with a straight ahead country band.

CLYDE MOODY B.A.C.M. 052 Six White Horses ● CD $14.98
23 tracks, 65 mins, recommended
23 tracks recorded for King between 1947 and 1952 by this fine and versatile singer who over the years recorded bluegrass (he started with Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys), mainstream country and western swing. This set includes his 1948 hit Carolina Waltz which he followed up with several other waltzes with regional titles earning him the nickname "Hillbilly Waltz King". The title song is a fine bluesy bluegrass tune given a honky tonk treatment. He also does a nice version of Fred Rose's Waltz Of the Wind with mandolin - a song later recorded by Hank Williams, a cover of bluesman James Wayne's Tend To Your Business and others. Decent sound and brief, informative notes. (FS)
CLYDE MOODY: Blues Came Pouring Down/ Carolina Waltz/ Cherokee Waltz/ Forgive Me/ I Know What It Is To Be Lonesome/ I Love You Dear Forever/ I Won‘t Care A Hundred Years From Now/ If You Only Knew/ Ivy/ I‘ve Only Myself To Blame/ Landslide Of Love/ Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday/ Shenandoah Waltz/ Six White Horses/ Tend To Your Business/ That Little Log Cabin Of Mine/ Waltz Of The Wind/ West Virginia Waltz/ What Can

CLYDE MOODY Bronco Buster 9011 The Immortal ● CD $18.98
Moody didn't have many big hits, but his voice was very appealing and perfect for 40s country music. He recorded some excellent music, much of which he composed himself. Two of his best, I Worship You and You Caused it all by Telling Lies are here, as are I'm Sorry if That's the Way You Feel and Afraid, by Fred Rose. The Angels Must Have Cried Last Night, featuring Jerry Byrd on steel, is excellent, as is Tommy Scott's You are the Rainbow of My Dreams. I'm so Lonesome is one of Moody's best recordings. There are only a couple of weak ones in this 20 song collection. All are hard-to-find. No bluegrass. ( OJS)
CLYDE MOODY: Blue Mexico Skies/ I Dreamed You Dreamed of Me/ I Worship You./ I'm So Lonesome/ I'm Sorry If That's the Way You Feel/ It's Too Late to Say You Were Wrong/ Little Blossom/ Over the Hill/ Paid in Full/ Red Roses Tied in Blue/ She Cooked My Goose/ Someday You'll Remember/ The Angels must Have Cried Last Night/ The Last Goodbye/ You Are the Rainbow in My Dreams

GEORGE MORGAN Bear Family BCD 15851 Candy Kisses ● CD $194.98
Eight CD's, 201 tracks, recommended
Before Lorrie Morgan was even a glint in her daddy's eye, George Morgan had a short run of late forties-early fifties stardom and only sporadic success afterward. Part of the problem was that he had a vocal style much like Eddy Arnold's and was hired by the Opry just after Eddy quit the show in 1948. This disc has everything from 1949 until he left Columbia in 1966, including the original hits, later remakes of those hits, duets with Dinah Shore, Rosemary Clooney and Nashville singer Marion Worth. Before Jim Reeves hung up his honkytonk boots in 1957 to turn soft crooner under Chet Atkins's guidance, Morgan had the market cornered. He should have prospered in the late fifties, as his voice was perfect for the Nashville Sound. That didn't happen for a variety of reasons and he was relegated to the second string, popular enough to tour for years and work the Opry (though he quit the show twice). He never really grabbed the top rung and may never have really wanted to. That he remained an artist of consistently high quality is clear from all this, though his style limited his choices of material. Still popular on the road, Morgan never achieved as much success as a recording artist after leaving Columbia, drifting from label to label until his death in 1975. The collection comes with an excellent 39-page booklet with Colin Escott's essay (based on interviews with among others, Morgan's widow Anna). Also, check out the incredible in-studio photos taken of Morgan and legendary Columbia producer Uncle Art Satherley at a 1949 Columbia session rehearsal. (RK)

GEORGE MORGAN Jasmine 3503 Candy Kisses Are The Best Of All ● CD $11.98
23 tracks from this popular artist drawn from radio show, presumably from the mid/late 50s. He does some of his own and other artists hits as well as non-hits. Includes Candy Kisses/ Have You Ever Been Lonely/ Take A Look At Yourself/ The Best Of All/ When A Man gets The Blues/ I Can't Gop On This Way/ Billy Bayou/ Panhandle Rag and others. No information is given in notes but personnel appears to include Roy Wiggins on steel guitar and Dale Potter/ fiddle.

TOM MORRELL & THE TIME WARP TOPHANDS Wr Records 010 Son Of No Peddlers Allowed ● CD $16.98
13 Tracks, 57 min., recommended Volume IX in Tom Morrell's How the West Was Swung series, this CD should not be played unless the listener is ready to be swung. It is pretty close to being a must for fans and players of the steel guitar. Why?? Well, for starters Morrell got Jerry Byrd (yes, THAT Jerry Byrd) to play on this release along with fellow steel guitarists Bob White, Pee Wee Whitewing, Billy Braddy and Morrell himself. Beyond the playing you get info regarding the guitars they and tunings they used. And that's not all, Chris O'Connell adds vocals on one song. And you get a bunch of other great musicians on instruments other than the steel guitar. I haven't heard all of the other eight volumes of this series. I assume this is as good a place to start as any. Morrel and the Tophands take the listener to where the swingin' is easy and the cotton is high. (RS)

TOM MORRELL & THE TIME WARP TOPHANDS Wr Records 12 Win, Place & Show ● CD $15.98
10th volume in the "How The West Was Swung" series of western swing which includes Howard MacRae, Johnny Case, Leon Rausch, Robert Reams & others.

TOM MORRELL & THE TIME WARP TOPHAN Wr Records 014 Jugglin' Cats ● CD $15.98
The 11th album by this fine western swing group from Texas led by guitarist Tom "Wolf" Morrell. This volume features 12 vocals and three instrumentals. The vocals all by women singers including Chris O'Connell (from Asleep At The Wheel), Maryann Price (Asleep At The Wheel, Dan Hicks) and others. Includes San Angelo/ Lady From 29 Palms/ What Makes Bob Holler/ Guess Who's In Town/ If You Ain't Lovin' Then You Ain't Livin'/ Tears Flowed Like Wine , etc.

ROD MORRIS Bear Family BCD 16193 Bimbo ● CD $21.98
24 tracks by this western flavored country performer from Missouri who is perhaps best known as a songwriter - he wrote the title song which was a big hit for Jim Reeves. This set includes his original recording of the song plus others like I Feel Like A Wreck (Looking For Someplace To Happen)/ Free, Wise And Twenty One/ Alabama Jailhouse Blues and more.

MOON MULLICAN Ace CDCHD 458 Moonshine Jamboree ● CD $18.98
28 tracks, 58 minutes, recommended
Over ten years ago the now-defunct Western label released a legal reissue of Moon Mullican's more rocking King material called Seven Nights to Rock. That LP, which I annotated, laid out clearly the debt owed him by nearly every piano-pounding country singer by assembling Moon's best hillbilly boogie and rock and roll work. Ace has provided a worthy successor to that collection mixing a few numbers from it with plenty of King material never released at all, including What's the Matter with the Mill/ Moonshine Blues/ Lonesome Hearted Blues/ I'm Gonna Move Home Bye and By and I'll Take Your Hat Right Off My Rack. The sound is generally all right. A few tracks lose a bit of their audio edge due to the lousy overdubbed echo King added to many of their recordings in the fifties. Given the fact only one Moon CD full of the obvious hits is available domestically, this one is well worth it. In addition, it features some incredible, never- published shots of Moon in the studio and onstage. I tend to agree with annotator Phillip Tricker's comments that 12 of Moon's earliest King sides may actually have been recorded for the Gulf label, and probably purchased by Syd Nathan. What's puzzling is the absence of session information (or even speculation). A minor point to a fine set. (RK)

MOON MULLICAN Ace CDCHD 997 Seven Nights To Rock ● CD $18.98
24 more sides by this fine and influential singer and piano player - many of them appearing on CD for the first time. It includes the original recording of Hank Williams' Jambalaya plus a four track session from 1956 with rock 'n' roll band Boyd Bennett & The Rockets plus lots of other fine sides. Includes 12 page illustrated booklet with extensive notes by Kevin Coffy.
MOON MULLICAN: A Mighty Pretty Waltz/ Crippled For Life/ Grandpa Stole My Baby/ Hey Shah/ Honolulu Rock-a Roll-a/ I'm Mad With You/ If You Don't Want No More Of My Loving/ Jambalaya/ Jose The Mexican Boy/ Keep A Light In The Window For Me/ Maybe It's All For The Best/ Memphis Blues/ Mona Lisa/ Piano Breakdown/ Rock'n'roll Mr Bullfrog/ Seven Nights To Rock/ Short But Sweet/ So Long (alt)/ Sugar Beet/ Think It Over/ Too Many Irons In The Fire/ Wanted (alt)/ Without A Port Of Love/ You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry

MOON MULLICAN Bear Family BCD 15607 Moon's Rock ● CD $21.98
Musically, Moon's post-King Records period was not his best. He recorded 21 numbers for both Coral and Decca, most of them with slick "Nashville Sound" arrangements with occasional sax and vocal choruses. None were hits and only a few were truly inspired. Still, the original Coral LP, "Moon Over Mullican", is a high priced collectors item today. Rich Kienzle's liner notes feature his Decca producer Owen Bradley, a longtime Mullican fan, admitting that Decca the label never really handled Moon right. A few bright spots include Every Which-A-Way, a terrific pop number and Pipeliner Blues which jumps nearly as much as the King version, and his final two unissued Decca recordings, funkier numbers done with only a rhythm section. The rest of the material is tepid at best and awful at worst. As for the 11 1962-64 tracks recorded for the tiny, Texas-based Hallway label (later released on a Kapp LP), only a couple like I'll Pour The Wine and Cajun Coffee Song are worth it. Moon's health being bad by the early sixties, combined with the mediocre material, was an underwhelming end to an incredible career. The Bear Family presentation is typically superb, with fantastic sound, unknown photos and complete discographical data. If someone could only issue the King sides with as much care!! (AK)

MOON MULLICAN Bronco Buster 9022 I Left My Heart In Texas ● CD $19.98
20 tracks, recommended
This is a hodgepodge of King material from 1946 (when he started with the label) through 1954. It's not particularly heavy on any of the several styles Moon excelled in. There are upbeat tunes like his hit I'll Sail My Ship Alone, All I Need Is You, (Don't Let Temptation) 'Turn You Round (with a vocal chorus) and his hit cover of Jole Blon, New Pretty Blonde. Ballads include Lonesome Hearted Blues, the gospel blues I'm Gonna Move Home Bye and Bye, It's A Sin to Love You Like I Do, both from his first session and When A Soldier Knocks and Finds Nobody Home, a song credited to Moon, Ernest Tubb and Lou Wayne. His excellent rendition of Mona Lisa is included along with the jivey Wait A Minute and his version of Bob Wills's A Maiden's Prayer with vocal by Cotton Thompson. This isn't really the best Mullican out there, but most of this material has never been issued in any form, making it important for that fact alone. (RK)
MOON MULLICAN: (Don't Let Temptation) Turn You'Round/ A Maiden's Prayer/ All I Need Is You/ Broken Dreams/ I Left My Heart in Texas/ I'll Sail My Ship Alone (# 1)./ I'm Gonna Move Home Bye and Bye/ I'm Hanging up All My Work Clothes/ It's a Sin to Love You like I Do/ Jole Blon Is Gone, Amen/ Mona Lisa/ New Pretty Blonde (New Jole Blon)/ No Stranger/ The Lamp of Life Is Burning Low/ The Lonesome Hearted Blues/ Wait a Minute/ When a Soldier Knocks and Finds Nobody Home/ Without a Port of Love/ Worries on My Mind/ You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry

MOON MULLICAN King 628 Moon Mullican Sings And Plays 16 Of His Favorite Tunes ● CD $9.98
8 of the 12 cuts here including Jambalaya/ Short But Sweet/ So Long, and A Thousand And One Sleepless Nights are real honky tonkers, replete with Moon's tinkling piano and lusty vocals. The remainder are sentimental songs about home and mother or waltz time ballads and are less interesting.

JIMMY MURPHY Ace CDCHD 714 Southern Roots - Legendary Starday/REM Sessions ● CD $18.98
Amazing! I thought the recent Sugar Hill reissue of Murphy's 1978 session together with the Bear Family reissue of Columbia & RCA recordings was it - then along comes Ace with a reissue of his mid 60s recordings with 12 previously unissued cuts! Wonderful singing and acoustic guitar playing from Jimmy with basic accompaniments. Mostly country gospel songs along with some blues and honky tonk country.

JIMMY MURPHY Bear Family BCD 15451 Sixteen Tons Rock 'n Roll ● CD $21.98
Long-awaited collection of Murphy's RCA and Columbia recordings. Murphy, who died in 1981, only recorded 16 songs for both labels from 1951-56 but has a cult following among both rockabilly and traditional country fans for his intense, deeply traditional acoustic sound, effective on his own harder-than-hard country compositions like Mother, Where Is Your Daughter Tonight, the minor gospel masterpiece Electricity, Big Mama Blues and We Live A Long, Long Time. He was backed on the first RCA session by his own guitar and Anita Carter's bass and on his second session by Chet Atkins (gtr), Bob Foster (steel) and Tommy Jackson (fiddle). He was no less powerful on cuts like Granpaw's A Cat and Sixteen Tons Rock and Roll (featuring Onie Wheeler on harmonica). If you liked Murphy's late '70s Sugar Hill LP featuring Ricky Skaggs in the backup band, you'll want to hear the originals. (RK)

JIMMY MURPHY Sugar Hill 3890 Electricity ● CD $15.98
16 tracks, 41 mins, essential
At last this masterpiece is now reissued on CD with four bonus tracks. Murphy was such major talent and it's sad that he recorded so infrequently. He was astonishingly versatile - equally at home with a Jimmie Rodgers style blues, a bluegrass song, a honky tonk country song or a soulful gospel song. A fine and expressive singer he was also a brilliant acoustic guitarist and an outstanding songwriter with a wry sense of humor in his songs. On many of the cuts here he is given sterling accompaniment by Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas and other top notch musicians. Among the highlights here are the title song and We Live A Long Time To get Old - bluesy, gospel songs with dazzling guitar by Jimmy. There's some wonderful honky tonk country in the shape of You Touched Me And Made Me Live Again and one of the best ever Hank Williams tribute songs I Get A Longing To Hear Hank Sing The Blues. Jimmy sings the blues on Shanty Boat Blues and the unissued How Long Blues. But it's all wonderful - don't miss it! (FS)

HEATHER MYLES Demon 772 Sweet Little Dangerous - Live At The Bottom Line ● CD $17.98
14 tracks, 45 mins, highly recommended
In spite of occasional thin sound and somewhat lackluster accompaniment this is a terrific live set from one of the most exciting country singers and songwriters of the past few years. Recorded at London's Bottom Line club in August, 1995 Heather is accompanied by Wes McGhee/ guitar, Gary Brandon/steel, Gary Hewitt/bass and Ann Day/ drums. She sings ive songs from her two Hightone albums including such classics as Changes and Rum And Rodeo and debuts six new songs that demonstrate her almost uncanny ability to come up with truly memorable melodies and meaningful lyrics that make the most of her soulful voice. Highlights are Read You All Wrong/ True Love Won't Let You Down/ Love Me A Little Bit Longer Sweet Little Dangerous. She also turns in fine treatments of Buck Owens' Gonna Have Love and Loretta Lynn's When The Tingle Becomes A Chill. Outstanding! (FS)

HEATHER MYLES Hightone HCD 8035 Just Like Old Times ● CD $15.98
This might be just the strongest and most promising country & western debut I've heard since Dwight Yoakam showed up. Singer/ songwriter Heather Myles first appeared on Hightone's Points West compilation last year, and her two contributions Rum And Rodeo/ Lovin' The Bottle (both included here) showcased a vibrant new performer who could shake up preconceptions of what contemporary country could sound like, so a full record this good was probably inevitable. Steeped in the Western swing-tinged California country sounds of Wynn Stewart, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, Myles covers old (Stonewall Jackson's Why I'm Walking) and new (Jim Lauderdale's Stay Out Of My Arms) classics with equal aplomb. But it's her writing and the sprightly arrangements on her tunes that carry Just Like Old Times. She's an ideal country performer, in that she acknowledges and adores traditional country, yet refuses to be limited by existing definitions. An impressive new voice. JG)

HEATHER MYLES Hightone 8059 Untamed ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 39 mins, essential
Heather Myles's debut album for Hightone in 1992 (Hightone 8035 "Just Like Old Times") was such a remarkable breath of fresh air in the often tepid contemporary country scene that any follow up would face a difficult challenge. Well her new one is not quite as spectacular as that first one but is still streets ahead of almost anything else you're likely to hear on the country scene. The sound is a little more mainstream (Heather now lives in Nashville) but she still writes some outstanding songs and, if anything, her vocals are even more expressive then on that first album. Her performance on the ballad Until I Couldn't Have You is spine chilling. Other fine originals include the Pasty Cline flavored When You Walked Out On Me, the latin flavored Indigo Moon and the take no prisoners It Ain't Over. Not all the songs are originals and there are some excellent songs from J. Rymes (the exceptional opening track And It Hurts), Marty Robbins Begging To You and others. Heather is accompanied by a strong band including guitar and bass by Bob Gothar, acoustic guitar and bass from Greg Leisz and occasional fiddle from Brantley Kearns. Don't miss it! (FS)

HEATHER MYLES Rounder 3147 Highways & Honky Tonks ● CD $16.98
12 tracks, 35 mins, essential
With this long awaited new studio album Heather Myles reasserts her status as possibly the finest new country artist to emerge in recent years. She is a stunning singer with a spine chilling emotional intensity to her vocals and a songwriter of great skill. She is accompanied by her regular band The Cadillac Cowboys plus various guest musicians included guitarist pete Anderson. The songs are mostly originals and includes such gems as True Love/ Broken Heart For Sale/ Rock At The End Of My Rainbow and others. Her duet with Merle haggard on her own No One Is Gonna Love You Better is one of the greatest honky-tonk performances I've heard in a long time. You're Gonna Love Me One Day and Youve Taken Me To Places I've Never Been have echoes of the great Buddy Holly. There are two tremendous covers - Charlie Pride's Kiss An Angel Good Morning and Ray Prices' I'll Be There If You Ever Want Me. Perhaps not quite as strong as her Hightone debut "Just Like Old Times" this disc blows away almost everything else out there! (FS)

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