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Archive for January, 2012

Classic Album Review-Tex Williams “Those Lazy Hazy Days”

Greetings from Asheville, where good music can always be found on the turntable, in the CD player, or the MP3 player, as well. Today’s Classic Album Review takes you to a place you likely haven’t been, previously; in front of a speaker listening to the 1974 Tex Williams release, Those Lazy Hazy Days. His only release for the Granite label, the album didn’t garner much attention, upon it’s release, failing to find the album charts, while only one of the three singles released from the album, charted.

Tex, himself, had pretty much fallen from view, as far as chartdom was concerned. He had last appeared on the Country 40 in 1971 with “The Night Miss Nancy Ann’s Hotel For Single Girls Burned Down”, the eighteenth and final Country 40 entry for Tex. Tex had first gained fame in the 1940’s, as the lead vocalist for Spade Cooley’s band, and can even be heard on Cooley’s biggest hit, “Shame On You”. Tex would eventually leave and form his own band, The Western Caravan, and would score hits such as “Life Gits Tee-jus, Don’t It”, “Never Trust A Woman”, and the smash “Smoke Smoke Smoke (That Cigarette)”.

Those Lazy Hazy Days was Tex’s seventh album of original material.

The title cut, “Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer” is the opening track. I have to admit to being a bit skeptical, before my first hearing of Tex’s take on the Nat King Cole hit, but have to admit to being pleasantly surprised at how well Tex handled the track. In fact, one would almost think the song was written with Tex’s deep vocals in mind. Credit, too, the legendary Cliffie Stone, who produced the album, for a really good arrangement, as well. This was the album’s one charting single, but it only mustered a seventy peak.

Another of the album’s singles, “Is This All You Hear (When A Heart Breaks)” also garners good marks, with a fine vocal performance by Tex Williams on a good quality track.

Coal mine tragedies have, from time to time, found their way into Country music lore. “The Death Of Floyd Collins” and “Last Day In The Mines” immediately come to mind. “Nowhere West Virginia” is in that same vein, but as a composition, I don’t this track is quite as good. Also, unlike the first two tracks, Tex’s vocals sounds aged, here.

The vocals return, though, on the playful “Bum, Bum Bum”, which is a lighthearted play on Conway Twitty’s classic “You’ve Never Been This Far Before”. Not a bad novelty track, but unfortunately, as a single, it garnered little notice.

Side one ends with “Mother Was A Sideman”, an okay track. The vocals are a bit shaky at the start, but seem to warm up by the end.

Side two opens with a playful nod to Merle Haggard and his classic “Working Man Blues”, with “I’m Haggard Too”. A pretty decent track, and lyrically, a track that many, today, can identify with.

“Dust On The Snow” is a decent little track about the old man who has the advice about the passing days. The real highlight is the great speaking voice of Tex Williams.

One of the highlights of the album, may well be “The Place Marked M-E-N”, a pretty humorous adventure in the local bar. I thought this was a great track.

Tex next tackles a track titled “Hey Warden”. A mid tempo track, one that really didn’t do anything for me one way or the other. Again, Tex’s vocals sound a little worn, here, compared to some of the other tracks.

The album wraps with a quick-paced little piece titled “Fire And Blisters”. Not the album’s best track, but not bad; a track that has a catchy melody and decent lyrics. Tex’s vocals are stronger, here, as he gives a fine performance to wrap the album.

Though this album doesn’t appear to be available on CD, it is available as an MP3 download. Plus, I actually found several used copies in the $5 to $18 range.

I give the title track my Standout Track, while I’m giving “The Place Marked M-E-N” my Hidden Gem nod. “Hey Warden” gets my Weakest Track nod.

Overall, it’s not a bad album. In spots, Tex’s voice seems a little worn with age, but in other places, it’s nearly as good as his hit-making days. The arrangements are fine, while the songs are good. I give this one a 3 out of 5.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - January 31, 2012 at 6:30 AM

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Single Of The Day-Ronnie Milsap “Houston Solution”

Greetings from Asheville, where good music can always be found on the turntable, as well as the CD and MP players. Your Single Of The Day is one of forty-nine top ten hits that Ronnie Milsap enjoyed during his hit-making days.

The forty-fourth of those top ten hits, made it’s debut in May, 1989, and would peak at four, by the end of Summer. “Houston Solution”, along with it’s immediate predecessor, “Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me)”, showed that Ronnie could still twang it up with the best of them. Not an out-and-out slow song, but a medium-slow tempo, the sound was really a departure from the singles that had preceded both of these. Those singles, while hits, had shown some of the strongest Pop-influenced sound of Ronnie’s discography; “Where Do The Nights Go”, “Button Off My Shirt”, and “How Do I Turn You On”, in particular. “Houston Solution”, though, was good Country.

Saving vinyl, one record at a time.

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - at 6:00 AM

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Classic Album Review-Chet Atkins “The Most Popular Guitar”

Greetings from Asheville, where good music can always be found on the turntable, in the CD player, or the MP3 player. Today’s Classic Album Review takes a reflective look at Chet Atkins’ The Most Popular Guitar. Released in May, 1961, in both stereo and mono versions, it was his fifteenth RCA Victor release. There was no Country album list or charts, at that time, but the album did make it to the Pop charts, peaking at one-nineteen. No singles were taken from this album.

The Gershwins’ “It Ain’t Necessarily So” opens things, here. A slow, bluesy, slightly jazzy take on this classic, that should delight any fan of stellar guitar playing.

It’s a similar story with “My Dear Little Sweetheart”, though more of a straightforward Pop or Easy Listening feel. The melody sounds almost as if it was written with guitar in mind, as it works so well, here.

“Stay As Sweet As You Are” is a little long, but the performance is fine, a smooth, relaxing journey that is enjoyable.

On “Monte Carlo Melody”, the tempo remains slow and relaxed, but the guitar work by Chet Atkins is incredible, perhaps the album’s best example. Were I not pressed for time, I would have gone and played the track again. That good.

The tempo picks up a bit, with “When Day Is Done”, a bit of a swinger, I’d call it an easy swinger. A rather infectious track, that is lite and fun.

Side one ends with Chet’s take on another classic melody, “My Prayer”, a song that is best remembered as a 1950’s Pop hit by The Platters. Not as dramatic as the hit version, this one is a more laid-back piece that is full of lushness and even has what some might say is a “dreamy” feel to it.

Side two opens with a track titled “Rock-A-Bye Bay”, a song that has a feel similar to the classic “Sleep Walk” (remember Santo & Johnny?). Still controlled and easy-flowing, it’s a track that certainly has to rank as one of the album’s better efforts.

“Vanessa” gives Chet another chance to show off his incredibly talented fingers, with a quick-paced, full-of-staccato notes that make up the first half, as well as the end of the song, before it slows down into a slower waltz tempo.

Usually, with a Chet Atkins album, songs that aren’t as strong are still worth listening to, because you find yourself listening and focusing on Mr. Atkins’ guitar work, which rarely falls below the incredible level. In most cases, the slow “Intermezzo” would come off as monotonous and boring, but here, it’s a perfect example of what I was talking about. Simply put, you’re too busy listening to and admiring the guitar playing.

“Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo” is another well-known melody from the 1950’s, and nothing to dislike, here.

“East Of The Sun” gives you another taste of a little jazz, and is one of my favorites on the album. It includes a nifty little sax solo that I am guessing (was unable to verify) is Boots Randolph.

The album ends on a lite note with the relaxed, front-porch swing of “Goin’ Home”. Great melody to end the album.

This album has been on CD, at one time it was offered in a two-fer package with Chet’s Down Home album. The prices I saw, though, were ridiculous, as high as $178! On the other hand, used vinyl is much more reasonable. I found copies ranging in price from $5 to $20.

There’s no Weakest Track, here, yet I don’t think any one track really stands out, either. It’s a very consistent album of good material. As for a Hidden Gem, I would have to go with “Monte Carlo Melody”.

Overall, as I stated, a very consistent album from start to finish. Not an album that would be considered Country, it’s more along the Easy Listening lines, and a good example of that genre. A great album for some relaxation time, this would have been a great disc to hear on a high end console stereo, without a doubt. I rate this one a 4 out of 5.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - January 30, 2012 at 5:30 AM

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Single Of The Day-David Rogers “I’m Gonna Love You Right Out Of This World”

Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Today’s Single Of The Day harkens back to an artist that I’m sure, in the minds of many who experienced 1970’s Country music, firsthand, may have completely forgotten, despite having a relatively decent career in Country music, David Rogers. His overall recording career spanned the period, 1967 to 1988. During that time, twenty-one of his singles broke into the Country 40, with two of those making it into the top ten, “Need You” and “Loving You Has Changed My Life”. Three others were able to make it into the Country 20, while, interestingly, six of his singles got close to the Country 20, but stopped in that 21-23 range, including today’s featured single.

The fourteenth of those twenty-one Country 40 singles, “I’m Gonna Love You Right Out Of This World”. The slower ballad, released on Gene Autry’s Republic label, was his third single for the label, and after it’s February, 1977 debut, would peak at twenty-one. A good, solid vocalist, mixed with a good song, this is an excellent release, that in my opinion, should have been a higher peaking single. A fine piece of music, right here.

If you remember the music of David Rogers, or if you’d like to learn about this 1970’s-era vocalist, then you’ll want to check out an article written by our buddy Paul W. Dennis, a few years ago, on the website the9513, that gives a really nice overview of his career. You can read that article by simply clicking here.

Saving vinyl, one record at a time.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - at 5:00 AM

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The Lawrence Welk, Hee-Haw, Counter-Revolution Polka

Bet the title got your attention, right? That, of course, is the actual title of a Roy Clark hit from 1972, and one that will on today’s Ultimate Twang show.
And what a line-up that is waiting for you! Today’s show is running the gamut from traditional to Pop-Country to Bluegrass to Country-Rock and all points in between. I’m talking Bill Anderson, Confederate Railroad, Conway Twitty, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Flatt & Scruggs, Merle Haggard, Waylon, Kathy Mattea, Crystal Gayle, Ernest Tubb, and even more.
Here in Asheville, today, the weather should be unseasonably warm, so if you have a front porch, grab the lap top, grab a drink of your choice (I’m seriously considering bringing me a Cheerwine), and simply plop down on the swing or the yard chair and just let everything go for 3 hours and enjoy today’s edition of Ultimate Twang, which kicks off at 4p EST.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mike The Country Musicologist - January 26, 2012 at 10:14 AM

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