Greetings from Asheville, where good music on the turntable. This Classic Album Review takes you back to June 1965, Eddy Arnold and I’m Throwing Rice (At the Girl That I Love) And Other Favorites. This was a release on RCA’s Camden label which was their budget line. Camden albums were almost always either reissued Victor albums, or collections made up of an artist’s older recordings. In this case, it’s the latter, as we get ten cuts of Eddy Arnold’s 1949 to 1958 period. The album was released in both mono, and a processed stereo version. Though the album never charted, five of the ten tracks were previously charted singles, along with two additional non-charting releases. On a personal note, after My World, this is the second Eddy Arnold album I heard as a youth.
The album opens with the title cut, a 1949 number one hit for Eddy. During that summer, “I’m Throwing Rice” spent four weeks on top of Billboard’s country charts. This is the original version of what I think is one of Eddy’s more underrated hits. This tune is worthy of classic status.
“This Is the Thanks I Get” was a top five hit for Eddy in the fall of 1954, peaking at number three. However, this is not the hit version. This is likely one of two versions Eddy recorded during separate sessions in New York City in 1953. The album’s liner notes claim that Eddy recorded the song seven times, before he was satisfied with the outcome. It does not state which attempt this cut is. I like the hit version, better, with its stripped-down arrangement, much like “I Really Don’t Want to Know”, with a guitar and backing voices. Much more effective. Still, not a bad version with the full arrangement.
One of the top hits of 1957 was Marvin Rainwater’s “Gonna Find Me a Bluebird”, a big top five hit on the country charts. At the same time, Eddy had a version that is included here. Eddy’s version missed the top ten, peaking at twelve in the spring of ’57. Eddy’s has a fuller arrangement and a quicker pace than the Marvin Rainwater version. An interesting interpretation that comes off rather effectively.
Next, Eddy takes a track from the legendary songwriter Don Gibson. “Too Soon to Know” was single for Eddy that failed to chart in early 1958. I’ve always liked this song. No, it’s not as good as Eddy’s biggest hits, or Don’s best compositions, but a cut that should have been worthy of at least a minor chart placing. Perhaps not the right timing. Mid-tempo ballad.
Side one ends with what is my favorite track on the album (no doubt related to my love of railroading), “Casey Jones (The Brave Engineer)”. Of all the versions I’ve heard, Eddy’s remains my favorite. Eddy’s version made a brief appearance in the top fifteen in Billboard in late summer of 1956. A bouncy rhythm and melody that work well, despite the morbid ending of Casey’s life. Worth noting that historically, the song isn’t completely accurate, as Casey wasn’t staring in the face of another engine, as the song says, but rather slammed into the caboose of another train.
Side two opens with Eddy’s attempt at Rock ‘N Roll. In 1956-57, even the likes of Eddy, Hank Thompson, Ray Price, and Webb Pierce, among others, tried it. “The Rockin’ Mockin’ Bird” was the B-side of his hit, “You Don’t Know Me” in 1956. Not a great recording, and one of the weaker tracks, here, but not as disastrous as one might think. It does have a good beat, though.
“Little Angel With The Dirty Face” was a top ten Arnold hit in 1950; it might remind you a bit of Bill Anderson’s later “Five Little Fingers”, as both tracks deal with a man dealing with the loss of a wife, yet still must carry on for a child. Arnold’s song is a little less depressing of the two. A mid-tempo track that despite its morbidity, is a decent track.
Never a single, yet part of a 1949 release of 78 rpm’s that featured songs about mothers, “I Wouldn’t Trade the Silver in My Mother’s Hair” is a sentimental ballad that used to be so common in Country Music. For me, it’s a song that does nothing, either way. However, I’m sure it played well with that era’s listeners.
Another hit from 1950 featured on this album is “Mama and Daddy Broke My Heart”. It was Eddy’s first single to chart in the new decade and peaked at number six. It must be one of the first Country songs to look at divorce from the perspective of a child. A heart-tugger that should resonate to most who’ve been through that experience. Eddy was an effective vocalist with tear-jerkers, particularly when he was younger, as songs like this and “Little Angel with The Dirty Face” show so well.
The album’s final cut is Eddy’s version of a 1930’s-era song, “Wagon Wheels”. Complete with the big orchestration of Hugo Winterhalter, this was a non-charting single from late 1957. Of course, this was the course that Eddy would take over the next several years, smoother vocals and lush instrumentations. This is one of the earlier (not the earliest, though) efforts of Eddy’s in that vein. The result is good. Worth noting that the guitarist listed for this session is Mundell Lowe, who recorded a couple of great albums on the Camden label, TV Action Jazz and TV Action Jazz Vol 2.
It’s increasingly rare to call an album “out of print”, yet this one is. Used copies are not too difficult to find, though, and a scan of sites like eBay and Amazon revealed numerous copies, mostly under $10. The Goldmine publication values near-mint copies at $18 for mono versions and $15 for reprocessed stereo versions.
Overall, it’s a decent album that covers some of Eddy’s less-remembered work of the 1950’s. An album worth picking up for a few bucks.
Your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
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About the Author
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.