New Releases: July 2010 -> March 2011
Country, Bluegrass & Old Timey
Bill Mack  -> Johnny Lee Wills





BILL MACK Jasmine 3594 Play My Boogie ● CD $11.98
24 tracks, 62 mins, recommended
Although now Bill Mack is much more well-known for being a Country music songwriter (he wrote one of LeAnn Rimes biggest hits) and Disc Jockey (currently on Sirius/ XM satellite radio) he was a talented Honky Tonk singer as far back as the late 1940's. Bill Mack always had his DJ career on the front burner, but he also tried his hand as a singer and was in the right place at the right time to land not only a regular gig on "The Western Barn Dance" out of Wichita Falls, Texas, but also a contract with Imperial records. All of the recordings here are from his Imperial releases of the 1950s. A fine singer in the Hank Williams mode, with an excellent fiddle and pedal steel heavy band backing him up, these recordings show an artist that could have probably had a bigger singing career if he wanted, although I think what it most clearly illustrates is a fine songwriter developing, with 21 of the 24 tracks here-most of them very good-written primarily by Mack. This is certainly a nice addition to any Honky Tonk collection. (JM)

J.E. MAINER & HIS MOUNTAINEERS Gusto 2206 Run Mountain - 30 Old Time Favorites ● CD $6.98
30 tracks, 78 mins, highly recommended
Great collection of bluegrass and proto-bluegrass music from country music pioneer J.E. Mainer drawn from three sessions held for King Records in 1946 and 1961. The earlier sessions feature J.E. on vocal and fiddle with sons Glenn and Curley on banjo and bass and an unidentified but superb mandolin player. Personnell on the later session is unknown but very fine. The music is mostly traditional songs and tunes along with some Mainer originals including Run Mountain/ Tears At The Altar/ Country Breakdown/ Take Hold Of My Hand/ LOnely Tombs/ Shoot The Turkey Buzzard/ Get Away Old Man, Get Away/ Don't Tease Me THis Way/ Mainer's Jew's Harp/ John Henry and others. On Yodelin' Mountaineer, J.E. engages in some exceptional yodeling. Sound quality is decent though there is a bit too much echo on the early sides and on the 1961 session the string bass is overly prominent. Still the music is so good it doesn't matter too much. (FS)

GEORGE MCCORMICK & EARL AYCOCK Bear Family BCD 17121 Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight - Better Stop, Look & Listen ● CD $21.98
Just arrived. 29 high class 1950s sides made in Nashville featuring musicians ranging from Hank Williams's band to the A team! Contains all 6 original 78s by George McCormick and Earl Aycock and another 6 singles by George McCormick. Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes and If You Got Anything Good are often cited among the best country duet recordings of all time! Three of the songs were scheduled for Hank Williams to record before he died. George McCormick later led the Wagonmasters band for Porter Wagoner and was Dolly Parton's first duet partner on the Wagoner TV show. Earl Aycock later was a DJ in Texas and Louisiana. A 40-page booklet by Martin Hawkins featuring unpublished interviews with George McCormick.
GEORGE MCCORMICK & EARL AYCOCK: (All You've Given Me Is) Heartaches/ (If You) Got Anthing Good (You Better Save It)/ After All We've Been Through/ Better Stop, Look And Listen/ Can I/ Cry Baby Cry/ Don't Add An Ex To Your Name/ Don't Fix Up The Doghouse/ Don't, Don't, Don't (take 2)/ Don't, Don't, Don't (take 3)/ Don't, Don't, Don't (take 5)/ Done Gone/ Doubt/ Eleven Roses (And The Twelfth Is You)/ Fifty-Fifty Honky Tonkin'/ Flutter Bug/ Going Steady With The Blues/ Gold Wedding Band/ Hi There, Sweet Thing/ I Don't Know Nothing About Nothing/ I Guess You Don't Care/ I'll Keep Your Name On File/ I'm Just Passing Through/ Remember And Regret/ Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes/ Take A Look At My Darlin'/ The Blues Moved In This Morning/ The Sundown Train/ You're High Tone Ways

THE MILLER SISTERS Charly SNAM 952 Got You On My Mind - The Sun Recordings, 1954-1957 ● CD $15.98
28 tracks of rock 'n' roll and country recorded for Sun between 1954 and '57 by sisters-in-law Elsie Jo Wages-Miller and Mildred "Millie" Miller. It includes all their issued sides, originally unissued sides, alternate takes and tracks backing up Gene Simmons, Glenn Honeycutt and Cast King. Includes booklet with detailed notes by Sam Szczepanski.

GEORGE MORGAN B.A.C.M. 313 One Woman Man ● CD $14.98
28 sides recorded between 1949 and 1957 by this smooth voiced country singer whose style was much like that of Eddy Arnold though his arrangements never strayed too far from straight honky tonk. This collection does not include any of his hits but concentrates on lesser known material like Put All Your Love In A Cookie Jar/ Broken Candy Heart/ Love, Love, Love/ Best Mistake/ Send For My Baby/ Our Summer Vacation/ It's A Sin/ White Azaleas, etc.
GEORGE MORGAN: Put All Your Love In A Cookie Jar/ Ring On Your Finger/ My Heart Keeps Telling Me/ Broken Candy Heart/ One Woman Man/ Look What Followed Me Home Tonight/ No One Knows It Better Than Me/ Love, Love, Love/ First Time I Told You A Lie/ Walking Shoes/ Sweetheart/ Best Mistake/ Ever So Often/ Lonesome Record/ Tears Behind The Smile/ Send For My Baby/ Don't Cry For You I Love/ Now You Know/ Our Summer Vacation/ It Always Ended Too Soon/ A Cheap Affair/ It's A Sin/ Mansion Over The Hilltop/ The One Rose That's Left In My Heart/ So Lonesome/ White Azaleas/ You're The Only Star In My Blue Heaven/ I'd Like To Know

MOON MULLICAN Gusto 2165 I'll Sail My Ship Alone ● CD $4.98
20 tracks, fair
Collection of sides recorded for King and Starday in the 50s and 60s by this fine honky tonk singer and influential player. Some great music but remastering is mediocre and distorted and his big hit I'll Sail My Ship Alone is either a remake or overdubbed version. Also includes Good Time Gonna Roll Again/ Trouble, Trouble/ Triflin' Woman Blues/ Piano Breakdown/ Rheumatism Boogie, etc. (FS)

MOON MULLICAN T-Bird 008 I'll Sail My Ship Alone/ Mister Honky Tonk Man ● CD $18.98
24 tracks, recommended
First ever CD reissue of the great Moon Mullican's last recordings made for the Nashville based Spar label in 1966 and originally issued on two LPs. It includes re-recordings of some of his old favorites like Columbus Stockade Blues/ I'll Sail My Ship Alone (covered twice by Jerry Lee Lewis), You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry and Old Pipeliner, but many of the songs are new material like Mr. Honky Tonk Man/ Man In The Moon/ I Ain't No Beatle (But I Want To Hold Your Hand) and the seriously rockin' I'm On My Way Home. Moon's singing and playing are fine and he is accompanied by a small group with vocal chorus on some tracks. The one drawback is the rather thin, and at times muffled, sound, - I don't know if this is a fault of the original recording or the remastering but it does detract from an otherwise very enjoyable recording. (FS)

COWBOY SAM NICHOLS B.A.C.M. 328 The Old Cowhand From The Rio Grande ● CD $14.98
28 tracks, highly recommended
Texas singer Sam Nichols enjoyed modest West Coast success in the late 40's, first with the tiny Memo and Bixby labels in 1946 then for MGM. His records had the breezy feel of Jack Guthrie's Capitol sides and little wonder. He and Guthrie used some of the same sidemen - Porky Freeman(elec.g), Red Murrell & Billy Hughes(g), Al Barker(b), Curly Cochran(stl.g) & Jesse Ashlock on hot swing fiddle. Several tracks feature backing by members of Spade Cooley's band including Cooley, Tiny Hunt and Billy Hill (fiddle), Noel Boggs(stl.g) & Jimmy Wyble(g) and others include appearances by the Farr Brothers and Merle Travis. Nichols easy going vocal style is most appealing and with the stellar musical backing makes for very enjoyable listening. (FS)
SAM NICHOLS: Ain't That Too Bad/ Honky Tonk Baby/ I Gotta Tie My Baby (To A Hitchin' Post)/ I Want My Alimony/ I Want My Alimony-2/ I Wonder Why I Worry Over You/ I'm As Free As A Breeze/ I'm Not The Triflin' Kind/ I'm Telling You/ It Never Rains But What It Pours/ It's My Life/ Keep Your Motor Hot/ Mississippi Gal/ Nobody's Fool/ One Sided Love/ Red Hair And Green Eyes/ Sows, Cows, Plows/ That Wicked Look In Your Eye-1/ That Wild And Wicked Look In Your Eye-2/ Two Weeks Notice/ Who Puts The Cat Out When Papa's Out Of Town/ Win Or Lose/ Yellow Roses/ Yellow Roses-2/ You'll Live To Regret It (Wait And See)/ You're Free Again/ You're So Heartless (And I'm So Forgiving)/ Your Key Don't Fit My Lock Anymore

JAMES O'GWYNN B.A.C.M. 318 Muleskinner Blues ● CD $14.98
28 tracks, 76 mins, recommended
James O'Gwynn was a fine honky tonk singer, originally from Mississippi, though he did much of his recording in Texas and his records have a strong Texas honky tonk feel and, in particular, resemble those of George Jones. O'Gwynn's voice was very much like Jones and his songs (often self composed) were in a similar vein ranging from honky tonk weepers to up-tempo novelty songs and with similar arrangements with fine steel guitar and fiddle. This set features sides recorded between 1955 and 1960 for a variety of labels and includes all his chart hits from the 50s (Talk To Me Lonesome Heart/ Blue Memories/ How Can I Think Of Tomorrow and Easy Money) plus Changeable/ Muleskinner Blues (a fine version of the Jimmie Rodgers classic)/Do You Miss Me/ How Can I Think Of Tomorrow/ Take The Last Look, etc.
JAMES O'GWYNN: Another Falling Tear/ Blue Memories/ Bottle Talk/ Changeable/ Do You Miss Me/ Easy Money/ House Of Blue Lovers/ How Can I Think Of Tomorrow/ I Cry/ I Wish You Wuz My Darling But You Ain't/ I Won't Love You Anymore/ Love In The Old Fashioned Way/ Love Made Me Slave/ Muleskinner Blues/ Ready For Freddy/ Someone Sweet To Love/ Take The Last Look/ Talk To Me Lonesome Heart/ Tears Of Tomorrow/ That's All I Got From You/ Trying To Forget You/ Two Little Hearts/ Were You Ever A Stranger/ Who Will Be The Next One/ You Don't Want To Hold Me/ You're Too Easy To Remember/ You've Always Won/ Your Love Is Strong But Your Heart Is Weak

ANDY PARKER & THE PLAINSMEN B.A.C.M. 329 Vol. 2 - The Coast Recordings ● CD $14.98
26 tracks, highly recommended
Superb collection of western songs and western swing from this fine group who are considered to be second only to The Sons Of The Pioneers. The fine harmonies include Parker, lead vocalist Charlie Morgan and Hank Caldwell and the group has exceptional instrumental accompaniment from steel guitarist Joaquin Murphey, accordionist George Bamby and various different fiddlers. The group get to show their instrumental chops on half a dozen fine instrumentals. Songs and tunes include White Cross In Okinawa/ Guitar Polka/ Vance Lane Special/ New San Antonio Rose/ Jack-O-Diamonds/ In The Hills Of Old Wyoming/ Here Today And Gone Tomorrow and more. Better than average sound for B.A.C.M. and high quality notes from Kevin Coffey. (FS)
ANDY PARKER & THE PLAINSMEN: Along The Rio Grande/ Blue Blue Eyes/ Colorado/ Down The Oregon Trail/ Guitar Polka (Instr.)/ Here Today And Gone Tomorrow/ Honeysuckle Rose (Instr.)/ I Learned To Love You Too Late/ I'm Gonna Gallup Into Gallup/ In The Hills Of Old Wyoming/ Jack-O-Diamonds/ My Home In Apple Valley/ New San Antonio Rose-1/ New San Antonio Rose-2/ Short Snort Polka (Instr.)/ South (Instr.)/ Sweet Georgia Brown (Instr.)/ The Aspen Trail/ The West Is As Wild As Ever/ Tumbleweed Trail/ Union Pacific/ Vance Lane Special (Instr.)/ Varsoviana (Instr.)/ Was The Cowboy Right Or Wrong/ West Of The Wasatch/ White Cross In Okinawa

DOLLY PARTON Omni 138 The Fairest Of Them All/ My Favorite Songwriter, Porter ● CD $17.98
23 tracks, 62 mins, essential
There is a simple choice to be made here. If you are a Dolly Parton fan, then you need this CD. Don't even bother reading the rest of this review; I 100% guarantee that if you are a Dolly Parton fan you want this CD. If you aren't interested in this CD, than you aren't a Dolly Parton fan, plain and simple. O.K., for those of you that still need convincing, this release puts together two of Dolly's early albums and releases them, plus excellent bonus tracks, for the first time ever on CD. "The Fairest Of Them All" is simply one of Dolly's greatest albums and features some of her strongest songwriting, including the legendary song Down From Dover. In Dover Dolly sings from the perspective of a pregnant woman stuck in a horrible place in life, it's one of Dolly's most graphic and most beautiful compositions. There are other powerful tracks here, like Robert and Daddy Come and Get Me, but Down From Dover is one in a million. The second album here features all Porter Wagoner compositions and is wonderful for all kinds of other reasons. It's clear that the folks at Omni records love what they do and the care that they have taken with the sound, liner notes and presentation of this CD are superb. The only possible down side that I can think of is in the original production where there are needless back-ground vocals that they could have taken out, but were probably left in for continuities sake; but, that's hardly much of a drawback. This is easily the most important Country music re-issue of the year. (JM)

HANK PENNY Krazy Kat 25 Hollywood Western Swing ● CD $16.98
Repressed by popular demand. First CD reissue of this excellent and under-rated western swing artist features 26 cuts cut between 1944 and '47 with hot sidemen like Merle Travis, Roy Lanham, Jimmy Widener, Noel Boggs, Zeke Turner and others - Tearstains On Your Letter/ Steel Guitar Stomp/ I'm Counting The Days/ Missouri/ Low Down Woman Blues/ Texas In My Soul/ Red Hot Mama & Ice Cold Papa/ Hillbilly Jump/ You Better Save It For A Rainy Day, etc.

CHARLIE PHILLIPS Bear Family BCD 16840 Sugartime ● CD $24.98
35 tracks, 86 mins, recommended
Texan Charlie Phillips' song Sugartime is among the most-covered and biggest selling songs of the 20th century. His first recording of the song was recorded at Norman Petty's studios in 1957 with Buddy Holly on guitar and issued on Coral without any sucess until it was covered by The McGuire Sisters and became a big pop hit. This collection features all his issued songs to 1967 including his 1962/63 hits for Columbia I Guess I'll Never Learn and This Is The House. It also includes the best of his later songs as well as several demos including his original 1956 demo of Sugartime and a demo of the fine rockabilly number Faker. Backing musicians include Buddy Holly, Jerry Allison, Glen Campbell, Al Casey and the cream of Nashville's session men. With his 4-octave range, Charlie Phillips was a fine and soulful, if somewhat mainstream, country singer. Also includes a studio master of You're My LSD which needs to be heard to be believed and a concert medley of Whole Lotta Shakin' / Johnny Be Goode / The Twist / Rock Around The Clock & Sugartime backed by several members of the Texas Playboys. Almost all the tracks on this collection are making their first appearance on CD. Includes copiously illustrated 68 page booklet with extensive notes by John Ingman written in collaboration with Charlie and full discographical info. (FS)

RILEY PUCKETT JSP JSPCD 77138 Country Music Pioneer - Selected Cuts ● CD $28.98
Four CDs, 100 tracks, very highly recommended
Another superb JSP box devoted to an important and great country music pioneer - this time to blind singer and guitarist Riley Puckett from Georgia. Puckett is probably best known as the guitarist who underpinned the music of Gid Tanner & Skillet Lickers but he recorded prolifically between 1924 and 1941 under his own name and this collection is only a selection of his vast output. Unlike the rough hewn vocals of Tanner, Puckett had a smoother baritone voice and recorded a very diverse selection of music including string band breakdowns, blues, traditional songs, western songs and a fair number of popular and sentimental songs - depending on your taste, the latter can be tough going but are important to include to present a full picture of Puckett's talent and there's plenty of the real stuff here to more than compensate. About half the tracks feature Riley just with own guitar and the rest feature varied accompaniment by fiddle, mandolin and banjo often by fellow Skillet Lickers Gid Tanner, Ted Hawkins or Clayton McMichen. A couple of tracks feature a very effective acccordion, which is not listed in the discography accompanying this set or even in Tony Russel's discography, including a great rendition of Frankie And Johnny. Most of the tracks are vocals but there are a couple of superb solo instrumentals including the gorgeous slide guitar piece Darkey's Wail and the ragtimey Fuzzy Rag. The set includes Puckett's original recordings of Ragged But Right which has since become a country standard. Compiled and remastered by CHris King, the sound quality is superb and there are informative, but too brief, notes by Pat Harrison. (FS)

OLA BELLE REED Smithsonian Folkways 40202 Rising Sun Melodies ● CD $16.98
19 tracks, highly recommended
Ola Belle Reed, who died in 2002, was a superb Appalachian born singer, banjo player and songwriter. Ola Belle started performing in the late 30s and in the 40s formed the band The New River Boys with her brother Alex Campbell and recorded an album for Starday in 1963. After Alex retired Ola Belle mostly worked with her husband Bud and their son David and made a number of recordings for Folkways in the 1970s performing traditional and original songs. Ola Belle was a rough hewn and intense vocalist and fine songwriter who forged real life experiences into music styled with determination , family tradition and commanding presence. A number of her songs like I've Endured/ High On The Mountain and My Epitaph (all featured here) have become bluegrass standards. The sides here are drawn from her Folkways recordings and includes eight previously unissued tracks - some from live performances. It addition to the aforementioned songs there are other superb Ola Belle originals like Ola Belle's Blues/ Tear Down The Fences and Fortunes as well as splendid renditions of country and bluegrass standards like Bonaparte's Retreat/ Look Down That Lonesome Road/ Nine Pound Hammer and others. In addition to Bud and David she also occasionally joined by Kevin Roth on dulcimer or John Coffey on fiddle. Superb music with detailed 40 page booklet. (FS)

DON RENO King 5115 The Golden Guitar Of Don Reno ● CD $5.98
15 tracks, 35 min., highly recommended
Sure, Don Reno flat picked his way to become one of the greatest bluegrass banjo players to ever to walk upright, and removing the adjective "bluegrass" doesn't change the truth of the assertion. For evidence, listen to just about anything by Reno And Smiley. As for the guitar, golden or otherwise, who knew Reno could even play? Perhaps unsurprisingly, he's not only impressive on the six strings, his fingers appear to be on amphetamines. Recorded in 1972 in Nashville for King Records, these instrumental tracks originally featured Reno accompanied only by Bill Harrell on rhythm guitar and Buck Ryan on fiddle. The session was never released. Then in 1998 the tapes were resurrected and overdubbed with Ronnie, Duke, and Don Wayne Reno backing their dad, if only sonically. The result (including Peacock Rag/ Gray Eagle/ Turkey In The Straw/ Dixie Medely/ Ranger's Waltz, and the curiously titled Lady Hamlet) is an unusual but satisfying addition to the Reno catalogue of musical wonders. (JC)

RENO & SMILEY/ RENO & HARRELL Gusto 2176 1963-1972 Complete King & Starday Recordings ● CD $24.98
Just arrived - four CD set with 95 tracks of classic bluegrass. The first two CDs complete the reissue of the great bluegrass duo Reno & Smiley's King recordings begun on Gusto 0959 (Four CDs - $24.98) and Gusto 0955 (Four CDs - $24.98). They feature 46 songs recorded in 1963 and '64. After Red Smiley retired in 1964 due to poor health REno worked with several groups and in 1967 teamed up with singer/ guitarist Bill Harrell and the duo worked together for about ten years recording for a number of different labels. The second two discs features recordings the duo made for King and Starday between 1967 and 1972.

CHARLIE RICH American Beat 70142 Once A Drifter ● CD $12.98
10 tracks, 36 mins, recommended
Charlie "The Silver Fox" Rich was a unique performer and a unique and uniquely creative personality. Although most of the Roots and Rhythm family and friends probably prefer his early years up to about "Mohair Sam" in the early '60s. It wouldn't be until the early '70s that he would really achieve big successes. This album falls right at the tail end of his commercial peak. With its big production, big strings and big expectations, "Once A Drifter" seemed poised to be another big release for Rich; however, upon its 1980 release it fell on uncaring--or unhearing--ears and was his first major release in ten years to not even crack the Country Top 40, let alone the pop chart. Not that this is a bad album. Fans of Charlie Rich's '70s hits should enjoy this. The music here is pretty far from Country; it is more of a Soft Rock affair, sounding a lot more like Seals and Crofts than Hank Williams. There are some highlights amongst all of the lavish strings and polish, the cover of Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight was a perfect choice for Rich and if he had put it out five years earlier, it probably would have been a pretty big hit. The album ends better than it begins, with Dream On Me/ Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues, and Are We Dreamin' The Same Dream, being the best songs on the album besides the E.C. cover. Charlie Rich would come back creatively a couple more times before his tragic early death, but would never reach the commercial heights that he was coming down from here. This album does grow on you after a couple of listens though, so if you already have Rich's classic records, you might want to give this one a shot. (JM)

CARSON ROBISON B.A.C.M. 331 Long Long Ways From Home - Featuring The Pioneers ● CD $14.98
22 tracks, highly recommended
With a recording career that spanned from Edison cylinders to a rock-and-roll single, Carson Robison was country music's first professional songsmith. His ear finely tuned to mainstream Midwestern values, this Kansas native penned hundreds of clever, melodic songs from his New York office: topical ballads for Vernon Dalhart; sagas of rubes taken in by big city ways; cowboy and rural nostalgia; and peppy gospel numbers. This fine collection of sides features recordings made between 1929 and 1942 for nine different labels including seven sides recorded in England when he toured there in 1932 and 1939. Arrangements are varied, usually a small group with instrumentation including fiddle, accordion, bass clarinet, jew's harp and more - often played by multi-instrumentalist Frank Novak. There are topical songs (What Are You Squawking About / Ohio Prison Fire/ Plain Talk, etc), humorous songs (Jack Of All Trades/ How To Make Love/ Don't You Believe It, etc.) and sentimental songs (There's A Ranch In The Rockies/ The Candle Light In The Window/ Little Mother Of The Hills, etc - the latter benefiting from the fine harmonies of The Pioneers (John, Bill & Pearl Mitchell). Fine sound and informative notes from Tony Russell. (FS/ DS)

JEAN SHEPARD Jasmine 3593 Beautiful Lies - The Early Years ● CD $11.98
32 tracks, 80 min., very highly recommended
Out a while but not listed before. Discovered by Hank Thompson and credited with releasing the first concept album in country music -- "Songs Of A Love Affair" in 1956 -- Shepard spent the 1950s releasing impressive single after impressive single for Capital Records. The hits (e.g., A Satisfied Mind and Beautiful Lies) eventually stopped coming but not the fine honky-tonked songs of broken hearts and homes. This fine release collects the songs from the "Love Affair" LP and adds 20, for a generous total of 32. Most have been out of print for a while, so it's nice to have such indispensable country music available again. Too bad the booklet doesn't offer any session information, dates, labels, or anything other than a brief biographical sketch of Shepard. Absolute first rate music, though. (JC)
JEAN SHEPARD: A Passing Love Affair/ A Satisfied Mind/ A Thief In The Night/ Act Like A Married Man/ Beautiful Lies/ Crying Steel Guitar/ Did I Turn Down A Better Deal/ Girls In Disgrace/ Hello Old Broken Heart/ I Learned It All From You/ I Love You Because/ I Married You For Love/ I'd Rather Die Young/ I'll Thank You All My Life/ It's Hard To Tell The Married From The Free/ Memory/ My Wedding Ring/ Over And Over/ Sad Singin' And Slow Ridin'/ Shadows On The Wall/ Sweet Temptation/ Tell Me What I Want To Hear/ The Mysteries Of Life/ The Other Woman/ The Weak And The Strong/ Two Whoops And A Holler/ Under Suspicion/ Why Did You Wait?/ You Can't Break The Chains Of Love/ You Win Again/ You'd Better Go/ You're Calling Me Sweetheart Again

JIMMY SKINNER Deluxe 7814 22 Greatest Hits ● CD $7.98
22 tracks, 55 mins, good
This is just shy of one full hour of nothing but good ol' American music. This CD features solid, though not terribly inspired versions of Country and Bluegrass numbers such as Dark Hollow/ Whoopie Liza, and The Cork and the Bottle. All in all there's not much to write home about here (or write about at all as judged by the complete lack of notes of any sort,) there's some good tracks here and there, and if you are looking for a cheap fix of vintage Country music this might do the trick. (JM)

BONNIE SLOAN B.A.C.M. 321 Nobody But You ● CD $14.98
24 tracks, highly recommended
Fine collection of sides by this little known but excellent West Coast honky tonk singer. Although Bonnie didn't have any chart hits she was a popular artist on the West Coast thanks to her appearance on a number of TV shows including becoming a regular on the legendary Town Hall Party. Her records are excellent - her earliest sides for the obscure Black Mountain label are quite varied ranging from the traditional Good Old Mountain Dew to a country cover of the 1952 tango based pop hit Kiss Of Fire to the straight ahead honky tonk of I Ain't Mad. She recorded 10 sides for Columbia in the mid 50s which are excellent honky tonk with Bonnie's distinctive voice, a little like that of Wanda Jackson, accompanied by solid accompaniments of fiddles and steel guitar. Her Poor Paper Kite is particularly nice. After a five year hiatus she recorded a number of sides for the Shasta label - Bonnie is fine but the songs and backings are fairly drab. Overall, though, a very worthwhile collection. (FS)
BONNIE SLOAN: A Dear John Letter/ After The Wedding/ Along I Cry/ Blue Ribbons/ Cry Of A Broken Heart/ Don't Call Me A Tramp/ Good Old Mountain Dew/ Hog Tied and Branded/ Honky Tonk World/ I Ain't Mad/ I Don't Want to Be A Queen Just Now/ Idle Hours/ Kiss Of Fire/ Little White Cloud/ No One Will Ever Know/ Nobody But You/ Poor Paper Kite/ Silly Boy/ Streamlined Cannonball/ Sweet Thing/ The Next Waltz With You/ The Woman Who Made Him That Way/ Where Do We Go From Here/ Yankee Go Home

HOBART SMITH Folk Legacy 17 Traditional Appalachian Songs And Tunes ● CD $16.98
24 tracks, 57 mins, essential
Hobart Smith from Saltville, Virginia is one of my favorite old time musicians and a greatly influential performer. He was a wonderful singer with an emotion charged style and a virtuoso instrumentalist who was adept on banjo, fiddle, guitar and piano though the piano is not featured here. Smith was first recorded by Alan Lomax in 1942 but didn't start performing on the folk circuit until the 1960s and these recordings were made at a radio station in Chicago in 1963 and resulted in his first album. This CD adds three bonus cuts to the original LP. Hobart sings a wide range of traditional songs and tunes including two different versions of Soldier's Joy - one performed on banjo and one on fiddle. Other instrumental pieces include Black Annie/ John Greer's Tune/ Bonaparte's Retreat/ K.C. Blues and others. The songs feature Hobart accompanying himself with guitar, banjo or beautiful modal fiddle work and includes Peg And Awl/ Short Life Of Trouble/ Sitting On Top Of The World/ Cuckoo Bird/ Uncloudy Day etc. Superb music and the 20 page booklet has notes on the performances and lyric transcripts (except for the bonus tracks). Indispensible to any lover of traditional American music. Counts as two CDs for shipping. (FS)

SONS OF THE PIONEERS Varese 67022 Sing The Stephen Foster Songbook ● CD $11.98
14 tracks, recommended
This is certainly an interesting historic document with fine performances by both Rogers and the Sons Of The Pioneers. Whether you enjoy this (or not) might rely on how much Stephen Foster's lyrics bother you (or not). I think if you can look past the racist language and appreciate this as you would any historic collection, like the fine one of minstrel music that came out on Old Hat records a couple years back, then there is a lot to enjoy here. The importance of the Stephen Foster songbook is certain--he pretty much invented American popular music -- and these recordings also capture Roy Rogers and the S.O.T.P. at the height of their powers in the 1930s. With the exception of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, all of the most famous songs in the Foster canon are represented here. You get fine versions of Oh Susanna/ De Camptown Races/ My Old Kentucky Home/ Old Black Joe, a lovely instrumental version of Swanee River, etc. More liner notes and recording information would have been appreciated; you get the basic two pages of notes that you usually get from Varese' releases. (JM)

DICK THOMAS Jasmine 675 Country, Ragtime, Rockin' Hillbilly & Cowboy Music ● CD $18.98
Two CDs with 55 tracks recorded between 1944 and 1953 by Western singer from, of all places, Philadelphia. As you might expect there isn't a whole lot of country twang in his singing though his voice is very engaging. It includes his original 1944 recording of his own composition Sioux City Sue which became a Western standard as well as becoming a pop hit in 1946 by Bing Crosby. With the success of that song it's not surprising that this set also includes Sister Of Sioux City Sue and Beaut From Butte. Arrangements most feature small groups along a few with larger orchestras. Some years ago B.A.C.M. issued the first ever Dick Thomas CD and this set includes many of those songs but is, obviously, much more extensive and with superior sound.
DICK THOMAS: A Broken Down Merry Go Round/ A Stolen Waltz/ Any Time Is Loving Time/ As Long As I Live I Will Love You/ Beaut From Butte/ Broken Heart/ Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie/ Can't You Take It Back And Change It For A Boy/ Charlotte Belle/ Cowboy Jack/ Don't Keep It A Secret/ Down In Old Wyomin'/ Foolish Tears/ Forgetful/ Give Me Back My Heart/ Home On The Range/ Honestly/ I Don't Want A Million Sweethearts/ I'm Goin'/ I'm Gonna Dry Up My Tears/ I've Got A Gal In Laramie/ If Memories Were Money/ Making Excuses/ Memories Of France/ Mistakes/ Moanin' In The Mornin' Grievin' In The Evenin' Blues/ My Daddy Is The Only Picture/ My Guitar Is My Sweetheart/ Old Chisholm Trail/ Ragtime Cowboy From Santa Fe/ Raindrops/ Red River Valley/ Rosalinda/ Roses Have Thorns/ Send This Purple Heart To My Sweetheart/ Seven Years With The Wrong Woman/ Sidetracked/ Sioux City Sue/ Sister Of Sioux City Sue/ Sleepy Head/ Sleepy Old Town/ Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle/ Tennessee Local/ The Gods Were Angry With Me/ The Last Roundup/ The Little Boy I Knew/ They'll Never Take The Texas Out Of Me/ Tiny Baby Shoes/ Too Soon To Tucson/ Tumbling Tumbleweeds/ Two Car Garage/ Weary Nights And Broken Dreams/ When Uncle Joe Plays The Rag On His Old Banjo/ Won't You Ride In My Little Red Wagon/ You Never Loved Me

JUSTIN TUBB Righteous PSALM 23:45 Fickle Heart ● CD $15.98
Fine collection of 17 sides from the 50s by this underrated honky tonk singer. The emphasis here is on sad songs and it includes a couple of duets with Goldie Hill. Includes the title song plus I Miss You So/ Something Called The Blues/ Desert Blues/ All Alone/ Lucky Lucky Someone Else/ Within Your Arms/ Oh How I Miss You and others.

PORTER WAGONER Omni 137 What Ain't To Be, Just Might Happen ● CD $17.98
30 tracks, 80 mins, highly recommended
Personally, I've never thought that Porter Wagoner had that great of a voice, but he was a great Country artist anyway. What he lacked in pipes, he more that made up for in earnest conviction, style, and passion for the art. Always a fan of recitations, Porter took that dramatic format to a whole new level starting in the mid 1960's. Mix religious parables and an awareness of changing times, and such oddball wonders like The Rubber Room/ Brother Harold Dee, and Waldo The Weirdo, happen. Story songs are certainly nothing new to Country music, but I get the impression the '60s and '70s Porter Wagoner albums owed as much to Jack Chick as they did to Hank Williams. Not everything on this collection is quite so maudlin (although the maudlin tracks are some of the best,) and there are such up-beat gems like Albert Erving/ Late At Night, and You Gotta Have A License. Fans of Merle Haggard also might want to check this out for its rare duet recording of I Haven't Learned A Thing. Porter Wagoner was one of a kind artist and Omni records has given us all a real treat with this collection of Porter at the peak of his solo creativity in the early 1970's. Package also includes excellent liner notes and some fantastic pictures. (JM)

JIMMY WAKELY Bygone Days 77033 1942-1952 ● CD $9.98
28 tracks, highly recommended A particularly nice collection tracks recorded between 1942 and 1952 by this popular and prolific western star who also had great crossover success. It includes many of his big hits like I'm Sending You Red Roses/ One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)/ Till The End Of The World/ Telling My Troubles To MY Old Guitar/ The Gods Were Angry With Me and others as well as lesser known titles including a couple that have not been on CD before. Arrangements range from small western groups to full orchestras and it includes Jimmy duetting with Velma Williams, Margaret Whiting and others. Sound quality is superb and there are informative notes by Peter Dempsey. (FS)
JIMMY WAKELY: A Bushel And A Peck/ At The Close Of A Long, Long Day/ Beautiful Brown Eyes/ Broken-Down Merry-Go-Round/ Dust/ I Don't Want To Be Free/ I Love You So Much It Hurts/ I Wish I Had A Nickel/ I'll Never Slip Around Again/ I'm Sending You Red Roses/ Let's Go to Church Next Sunday Morning/ Mine, All Mine/ My Heart Cries For You/ One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)/ Rainbow At Midnight/ Slippin' Around/ Someday You'll Call My Name/ Standing Outside Of Heaven/ Telling My Troubles To My Old Guitar/ The Gods Were Angry With Me/ There's That Same Old Lovelight In Your Eyes/ Till The End Of The World/ Too Bad, Little Girl/ Wedding Bells/ When I Say Goodnight/ When It's Harvest Time, Sweet Angeline/ When You And I Were Young, Maggie/ Why Do You Say Those Things (That Hurt Me So)?

OZIE WATERS B.A.C.M. 320 The Colorado Ranger, Vol. 2 ● CD $14.98
22 tracks, 63 mins, recommended
Complementing BACM 210 this is another fine collection of western songs from this smooth voiced singer originally from Missouri, who spent a lot of time in Colorado. Most of these sides were recorded in the mid 40s for the Los Angeles based Coast label. Accompanied by a fine western group with fiddle, accordion, steel guitar and electric guitar he performs a a selection of original songs and recent favorites including his great topical song We'll Have A Rodeo In Tokyo And A Round Up In Old Berlin plus At Mail Call Today/ Cool Water/ Told You So/ No One Cry To and others. It also includes his fine 1950 Coral version of the topical Old Man Atom and two tracks from radio transcriptions featuring Ozie alone with his guitar. Fine sound and informative notes by Kevin Coffey. (FS)
OZIE WATERS: At Least A Million Tears/ At Mail Call Today/ Cool Water/ Don't Sweetheart Me/ I Can't Get Out of Texas In My Dreams/ If Our Hands Could Reach Across The Ocean/ Love To You Is Just A Game/ Missouri/ No One to Cry To/ Old Man Atom/ Once In A Blue Moon/ Remember Me/ Silver Dew On The Bluegrass Tonight/ Star and Stripes On Iwo Jima/ That's My Home/ That's the Last Straw/ The Book of Etiquette/ Throw A Saddle On A Star/ Tie A Saddle String Around Your Finger/ Told You So/ We'll Have A Rodeo In Tokyo and a Round Up In Old Berlin/ Where The Beautiful Red River Flows

THE WILBURN BROTHERS Golden Stars 5658 In Harmony - Classic Albums And Singles ● CD $19.98
3 CD set, 52 tracks, highly recommended
In spite of their numerous hits The Wilburn Brothers have been poorly served on CD reissues so this collection is most welcome featuring a healthy chunk of the duos recordings between 1954 and 1959 along with some of their earlier more old timey sides as part of the Wilburn Family. Like The Louvin Brothers the Wilburns music is based on the great brother duet sounds of the 30s and 40s but updated for a later generation. Later recordings found them moving in a pop direction but on these sides their sound is "pure" with their fine harmonies joined by guitar, steel guitar, piano and fiddles and on a couple of tracks some very effective autoharp playing. The first disc starts off with all 11 of their country hits between 1954 and '59 including their great version of Sparkling Brown Eyes with Webb Pierce, their superb rendition of the traditional Knoxville Girl and other fine sides like You're Not Play Love/ Go Away With Me/ Hey Mr Bluebird/ Somebody's Back In Town, etc. The rest of the first disc features five of their early 50s recordings as part of The Wilburn Family. The other two discs features the brothers first three LPs from 1957, '58 and '59 including their all gospel album "Livin' In God's Country." No notes but sound is excellent. 14 cuts are duplicated on B.A.C.M. 254 (FS)
THE WILBURN BROTHERS: A Boy's Faithful Friend/ A Woman's Intuition/ Always Alone/ Angel Band/ Bringing in the Sheaves/ Bugle Call from Heaven/ Cry, Cry, Darling/ Don't Sweetheart Me/ Down in Dixie (Where They Say You - All)/ Faded Love/ Forever Too Late/ Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet/ Go Away with Me/ Hey, Mr. Bluebird (with Ernest Tubb)/ I Know You Don't Love Me Anymore/ I Wanna Wanna Wanna/ I Want to Live and Love/ I'll Never Leave My God Alone/ I'll Sail My Ship Alone/ I'm So in Love with You/ If It's Wrong to Love You/ Indian Love Call/ It Takes Courage to Care/ Let the Lower Lights Be Burning/ Livin' in God's Country/ Long Gone Lonesome/ May You Never Be Alone/ Mister Love (Ft. Ernest Tubb)/ Much Too Often/ Need Someone/ No One Will Ever Know/ No See, No Talk, No Hear/ One Has My Name the Other Has My Heart/ Shall We Gather at the River/ Somebody's Back in Town/ Something Got a Hold of Me/ Sparkling Brown Eyes (with Webb Pierce)/ Sugartime/ That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine/ That's when I Miss You/ The Great Speckled Bird/ The Knoxville Girl/ Throw out the Life Line/ Time Changes Everything/ When the Roll is Called Up Yonder/ Which One is to Blame/ Will You Be Ready (To Wear a Gold Crown)/ Wreck on the Highway/ You Can't Break the Chains (Of Love)/ You Win Again/ You're Not Play Love/ You, Little Sweet, Little You

SLIM WILLET B.A.C.M. 317 A Cold Can Of Beer ● CD $14.98
30 tracks, 76 mins, highly recommended
Terrific collection of Texas honky tonk with a touch of western swing recorded between 1950 and '54 by this superb singer and songwriter who is best known as the writer of the iconic country song Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes which topped the country charts in 1952 and was to mark Slim's only appearance on the charts but was to assure his future livelihood as it was covered by hundreds of country and pop performers over the years. The song's unusual rhythm and timing was inspired by songs he heard by Mexican-American oil field workers in the 1940s and was so unusual that Four Star owner Bill McCall hated it and issued as the flip of Hadacol Corners but once the public heard it all the attention went to Stars. Slim attempted to repeat the success with several songs that were very similar but also recorded a whole lot of other very different songs. Slim tended to favor mid to up tempo songs and his fine vocals were accompanied by fine bands - usually Shorty Underwood and his Brush Cutters with Underwood on fiddle and Vaughn O' Shields on steel. In addition to Stars and an instrumental version of the songs this set includes other fine songs like I'm A Tool Pusher From Snyder/ My Story's Sadder Than Yourn (a duet with Jean Stansbury)/Let Me Know/ My Love Song To You (one of the few slow ballads and it's a beaut)/Come Sundown (recorded in 1953 but very much proto-rockabilly)/Do As I Do/ Don't Waste Your Heart, etc. Sound quality is fine and there are informative notes by Phillip Tricker. There are a handful of duplications with Collector 2857 ($16.98). (FS)
SLIM WILLET: A Cold Can Of Beer/ Come Sundown/ Do As I Do/ Don't Laugh At Me/ Don't Let The Stars (Get In Your Eyes)/ Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes (instrumental version)/ Don't Waste Your Heart/ Give Me That Kind Of Love (That You Would Like To Receive)/ Hadacol Corners/ Hungry Slim (instrumental)/ I Call You Stingy/ I Might Confess/ I'm A Tool Pusher From Snyder/ I'm Going Strong/ I've Been A-Wonderin'/ If Winter Comes/ It's Hard To Love Just One/ Leave Me Alone Now/ Let Me Know/ Let Me Know (2nd version)/ Live While Your Young (Dream While You're Old)/ Love Me Baby/ Mata Hari/ My Love Song To You/ My Story's Sadder That Yourn [sic]/ Nobody Loves A Fat Man/ Tall Man/ The Red Rose/ Villa Cuna/ When We Grow Old

JOHNNY LEE WILLS Krazy Kat 18 The Band's A Rockin' ● CD $16.98
27 tracks, highly recommended
Back in print by popular demand. Krazy Kat has reissued the complete 1941-1951 Decca and Bullet sides of Johnny Lee , including his still-awesome 1941 Milk Cow Blues sung by Cotton Thompson with Junior Barnard on guitar, as well as Memories of You. The half-dozen Decca sides he made in 1947, somewhat weaker, with Leon Huff on vocals, show a band not as good as the earlier group, and certainly inferior to the 1949-1951 Bullets, the best known being his original song Rag Mop, that became a big pop hit for the Ames Brothers in 1950. To the label's credit, they omitted another Wills original, the syrupy kiddie Easter tune Peter Cottontail, and focused instead on the good stuff like Boogie Woogie Highball/ Tom Cat Boogie/ Coyote Blues and Levee Blues. Collector Dave Sax's notes are competent though sound quality is a bit disappointing. (RK)


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