And while it's true that nine of the twelve "Love Bug" tracks, recorded in under seven days in June of , were contemporary covers - Jones' trademark country yowl is in career-best form.
Maybe it felt rushed at the time, but George Jones' Musicor era makes for solid country gold listening fifty plus years later. Mel Tillis - Stateside. In this week's episode, we're featuring Mel Tillis' first album on the Kapp label: "Stateside" After a short time with RIC, and following a longer stint with Columbia - Kapp signed Tillis in the mid 60s, and he was there for five years, releasing ten high quality albums in that time. Tillis fans will eagerly tell you about the bright artwork, the big Nudie suits and hard country style that typified his work for Kapp and "Stateside" is no different.
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A blockbuster release for , it contains 12 songs - about half covers and half Tillis' own material. The album contained two Top 20 hits for Tillis - the first of his career - in "Wine" and "Stateside", which later became very popular with US servicemen stationed overseas, especially in The Far East. Perhaps a lonely Air Force recruit himself while stationed in Okinawa in the early 50s, Mel Tillis later took the inspiration of "Stateside" and named his band after the hit song. York, described as a "a tall stately Kentucky darling with long, flowing red hair and a magic, lyrical way with a country music song" has a voice which perfectly suits Tillis' and wears it like a vocal glove.
She seems to disappear after , but definitely contributes to a very enjoyable Mel Tillis album here. After leaving a good job as a technican at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and with some encouragement from his wife and two kids - the Carothers moved the homeplace to Nashville, Tennessee to allow James to pursue country music.
Gigs were hard to come by in the first few months - until a chance encounter with Nancy Jones George's fourth and final wife at the newly opened George Jones Museum in led to a residency there. Carothers played almost two years straight there - honing his craft and making friends with like-minded Possum tragics.
Amongst strong original projects - he was approached with the opportunity to record a tribute album to George Jones and jumped at the opportunity. The results are simply superb: half hits, half deeper cuts, Carothers and his team have expertly mined Jones' later material for some un-thrashed gems as well as worthy favourites.
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Bloody sensational. In this week's episode we're featuring a very personal and sometimes touching tribute to Ernest Tubb from his eldest son, Justin Tubb: "Justin Tubb" Released a year after ET's death, Justin Tubb had wanted to do a tribute album while the old man was still living but it just didn't pan out that way.
Song selection was based on those Ernest Tubb tunes which held a special place and meaning for Justin himself - and included are several of ET's best known songs as well as some lesser hits. Justin Tubb made a conscious decision early on to not piggyback on his Daddy's larger-than-life reputation, and as such his work was sometimes overshadowed when the Tubb family name came up. However, in terms of quality, Justin Tubb's solo material is easily as good, in this reviewer's opinion, as his old man's - and his vocal certainly held it's own.
His songwriting too was first call to the stars from the 50s until the 80s, and he's included three new songs for this tender tribute to the so-called "Daddy Of 'Em All", which rings true in this case. Kristyn Harris - Down The Trail. In this week's episode, we're featuring an energetic western swing outing from young Texan Kristyn Harris, "Down The Trail" Based in the Lone Star State, but taking bookings from coast to coast and even further afield - Kristyn Harris' brand of western and western swing music is infectious. Throw in some artful yodelling, a big smile you can hear when she sings and a healthy respect for tradition and you can understand her popularity.
A student of those western and western swing singers and musicians that came before, as well as lending her own pen to multiple numbers, "Down The Trail" is a winner from front to back. This week's episode also features two live tracks and interview audio from Kristyn, who was kind enough to donate a few minutes of her time to have a chat with us before the Pro Cowboy Country Music Awards in Keep an eye on this one, she's going places. In this week's episode, we're celebrating the songwriting prowess of Wayne Kemp with his debut full-length album "Wayne Kemp" Few of country's best composer's could boast the way with words that this purveyor of hard country possessed, and he had handfuls of songs recorded by some of country's legends, as we explore in this week's episode.
Blood Country: A Nashville Sideman Mystery
During his own recording career, Kemp never reached the heights he should have. Laura Cash - Awake But Dreaming. A fine collection of western swing and traditional country covers from this talented fiddler and Oregon native and one time daughter-in-law to the great Johnny Cash, this release is complemented wonderfully with well-chosen cameos. Fellow fiddlers The Quebe Sisters join in the fun on two cuts and Bobby Flores' excellent harmonies are all over this album; Jason Carter duets with Cash on a Benny Martin tune added to Joey McKenzie's rhythm guitar on a couple of tracks.
Backed by the best studio musicians you could hope for - all of these folks are connections that Laura Cash has made since a well-timed move to Nashville in She made friends with some of country music's greats at a time when many were still around and getting recognition, and she's got the stories and pictures to prove it.
David Ball - Thinkin' Problem. In this week's episode, we're featuring the twangy breakout album from David Ball, "Thinkin' Problem" After earning respect from countless musical quarters and partly kick-starting the alt-country movement from his time with Uncle Walt's Band in the 70s and 80s, David Ball was encouraged to move to Nashville and pursue country music after hearing Randy Travis on the radio in about Our feature album sold a million copies at a time when the neo-traditional movement was on the wane, and spawned a Top 5, Top 10, Top 20 and two further singles.
Ball's hardcore honky tonk sound appealed to country fans, and it was original music too - he wrote or co-wrote nine of "Thinkin' Problems" ten tracks, opting to include a Webb Pierce cover to round out the album cuts to let listeners know where he was coming from musically. The album stands the test of time, too: highlights include the pun-a-licious "Blowin' Smoke", the alluring neon nurses in "Honky Tonk Healin'" and a strangely uptempo crawler "Don't Think Twice".
Years later, when Ball was asked if he ever got sick of playing "Thinkin' Problem" live, he answered emphatically: 'Hell, no.
Blood Country: A Nashville Sideman Mystery
I think it's one of the best country songs I've ever heard. A young Haggard even snuck out of his home at age 12 to go see Wills play at the famous Beardsley Ballroom, such was the influence from a very formative age. Armed with a fiddle he only took a few months to learn - a fiddle which once belonged to Bob Wills himself - Haggard, in discussion with Roy Nichols and Norm Hamlet of his band The Strangers, decided a tribute to "The Old Man" could only be done properly with the help of those who were there to make the sound in the first place.
Johnny Gimble, Joe Holley, Eldon Shamblin, Tiny Moore and others graciously and eagerly agreed to be a part of this project and "The Best Damn Fiddle Player" is generally accepted as the first mainstream album to kickstart the western swing revival, still very much alive today. The enjoyment had on this collection of Wills standards with a few choice obscurities is evident, and legend has it that at the end of the three-day recording session, such was the emotion in the room that when the final note was played, you could see a tear in the eye of most all the pickers there.
That's the soul of country music and western swing right there. Tracy Byrd - Love Lessons.
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In this week's episode, we're featuring a great neo-traditional album from Tracy Byrd: "Love Lessons" Three albums in, a number one under his belt and some of the catchiest novelty songs of 90s country radio, Byrd had arrived. But Tracy Byrd was far more than detractors of the "Watermelon Crawl" might give him credit for - he had some geniune talent, a nice guy persona that always goes a long way in show biz and a very talented road band.
Barnes are submitting songs onto your third studio album that you must be doing something right. A radio-friendly baritone to match a PR-friendly smile helped Tracy Byrd to three Top twenty singles from "Love Lessons", but in this reviewer's opinion, the real gold lies in it's album tracks. A really good album. In this week's episode we're featuring the first in a trilogy of bluegrass albums that Dolly Parton released around the turn of the century: "The Grass Is Blue" After Decca Nashville closed their doors in , Dolly found herself without a record deal for the first time in thirty years.
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She had talked about doing a legacy bluegrass project in the past, but now was the time. Teaming with Sugar Hill Records, she assembled some of the best pickers you can name, some well chosen covers and four of her own compositions and punched out what some might call her best solo album since the early 70s. Jerry Douglas on dobro wrote: "Dolly's performance brought this cream of the crop band leaping to it's feet. I consider it an honour to have been part of this project and see its culmination to be a momentous shot in the arm for bluegrass music.
Listen in and you'll see why. Bobby Marquez - The Cowboy Way. In this week's episode, we're featuring the first album in nine years from Nashville transplant Bobby Marquez, "The Cowboy Way" Hailing from the deep south of Texas, he moved to Nashville in the late 90s to pursue the country music dream. Playing by his own rules has worked well for him: winning awards and entertaining crowds worldwide with his easy traditional style that brings to mind the heyday of George Strait and Alan Jackson he's had songs recorded by both - "The Cowboy Way" is a solid dose of originality, with highlights including the bouncy "What's The Deal"; a great duet with fellow Texan Johnny Rodriguez on one of that man's first hits, "Ridin' My Thumb To Mexico"; a fun opener in "Honky Tonk" and a dedication to his late father-in-law on "The Cowboy Way".
Weldon Henson - Honky Tonk Frontier. Henson and his band have held down the popular "Two-Steppin' Tuesday" slot at the Spoke for some time now, regularly packing in several hundred of Austin's best dancers. It's no surprise then, that his music is primed to dance to - telecaster and steel-driven original "Texas made honky tonk" as Weldon Henson himself calls it.
And speaking of steel - "Honky Tonk Frontier" was recorded at Cherry Ridge Studios in Floresville, TX: owned by Tommy Detamore, an accomplished steel guitarist himself, and featuring co-production by the steeler on the record itself in Ricky Davis. Featuring Weldon's regular road band on the album was a smart move too.. Can't wait for Weldon Henson's next effort.
In this week's episode, we're celebrating an iconic label: Don Pierce's Starday Records. Aften Don Pierce became label president, Starday's product was perfected. Known for their vivid and colourful album covers, featuring easy-to-understand situations and many-a-rhinestone cowboy suit - acts "discovered" on the Starday roster included George Jones, Dottie West, Roger Miller and Justin Tubb. They also gave new leases of life to many veteran artists deemed "past it" by much of the Nashville establishment: Cowboy Copas, Johnny Bond, The Willis Brothers, Red Sovine and many others enjoyed some of the biggest hits of their careers under the Starday umbrella.
Jack Guthrie - His Greatest Songs. In this week's episode, we're remembering a name that is too often left out of conversations about western swing: Jack Guthrie.
Our feature album this week is Capitol's retrospective: "Jack Guthrie - His Greatest Songs", featuring twelve dynamite western swingers from his extremely short recording career Born in Oklahoma in and a cousin to the famous Woody Guthrie, Jack's family moved around - the age of nineteen found him married on the West Coast, singing and entertaining in cafes and bars while pursuing a rodeo dream. After hearing Guthrie's easy-going hillbilly tenor, Capitol's Lee Gillette signed him to a recording deal in , and the likeable Okie recorded his first and biggest hit "Oklahoma Hills" shortly after.
Uncle Sam saw him whisked overseas before he could enjoy his new found national fame, but between then and his untimely passing from tuberculosis in , he cut some sensational sides. With overdubbed honky tonk brushes a la Hank Thompson of the same era, Capitol have an excellent look at a career cut short - and as if Jack Guthrie needed anymore credibility, the original LP has some extremely candid liner notes written by his personal friend: the iconic Merle Travis. Turn it up. Randy Travis - Old 8x This week we're featuring the follow-up to one of the biggest selling albums of the 80s: Randy Travis' "Old 8x10" However, "Old 8x10" certainly did well..
There was a continuation of style too - lots of pedal steel, dobro and fiddle all sit wonderfully around Randy Travis' most unique of vocals. Sensational album. In this episode, we're featuring some of the best early 60s honky tonk you've never heard: from the chronically underrated Skeets McDonald, our feature album is: "Call Me Skeets!
He flirted with rockabilly and rock 'n' roll, but it was after his move to Capitol's arch-rivals Columbia in that we pick up the story - all of our feature album was recorded between ''63, and it demonstrates Skeets McDonald's refusal to budge from his hard country sound. We feature some sensational country shuffles, a few featuring a young Johnny Paycheck on harmonies, Jimmy Day on steel and Tommy Jackson on fiddle - and Skeets' nasal hillbilly twang slots in perfectly.
As one reviewer in the 60s wrote: "Listening to him [Skeets] sing is like playing a record you liked twenty years ago. It's the plaintive sound from a thousand beer joints along highways from Altoona to Albuquerque.
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Can you believe that was meant to be a negative review?? This week, we get Hankified. All the songs included in this week's show are by or about the lanky, hollow-eyed hillbilly Shakespeare from Montgomery, Alabama.