Classic Album Review-Kitty Wells “Dust On The Bible”
Greetings from Asheville, where the salsa is fine and there’s always good music on the turntable, in the CD, or on the MP3. This week, in celebration of Easter, we are looking back at some of the classic Gospel or Inspirational albums from various Country artists. Today, I have what will be the oldest one we’ll look at, this week, dating all the way back to 1959. Kitty Wells and “Dust On The Bible”. It was only Kitty’s third album release for Decca Records, and being still a few years away from the existence of a Country album chart, this one never charted. Yet it was a steady seller for Kitty and Decca/MCA; so steady, in fact, that it lasted well into the CD era. This copy is one that has been in my family for many years. I don’t know who purchased it, originally, but even as a young boy, combing through our albums, I remember seeing it, though I never played it and don’t remember ever hearing it played until I actually began listening to it, well into adulthood.
Kitty’s version of the title cut, a song written and first recorded by the Bailes Brothers, would rank as one of my top five Country Gospel recordings of all-time. A great song, to begin with, it has a catchy melody and extremely good lyrics. Then there’s Kitty’s singing; surely this has to be one of her finest performances.
Kitty’s vocals are nearly as good on “I Dreamed I Searched Heaven For You”. A song not quite as good as the first cut (then again, that’s an awfully strong song to match up with), but a track that still ranks as quite good. I think it’s one of those that grow on you the more you listen.
Any list of great Gospel songs would have to include “Lonesome Valley”, somewhere on it. Great song, and this is a great performance. Quite possibly the best version I’ve heard.
“My Loved Ones Are Waiting For Me” has that old-time church singing feel to it, no doubt thanks to both the melodic structure, as well as the piano in the background. Whoever produced this album (I’m guessing Owen Bradley) brought their “A” game on this disc. The arrangements are stellar. I really like this cut, great piece of music.
Kudos to the guitarist on “I Heard My Saviour Call”. A swinging number that has a very infectious beat, thanks in no small part to that fellow picking the strings. Another great melody, right here.
The greatest Country-Gospel song of all-time…has to be one of two songs; either “I Saw The Light” or “The Great Speckled Bird”. For me, “I Saw The Light” just edges “The Great Speckled Bird”; just barely! Here, we get a stellar interpretation of the number two song, from Kitty. She really nails the song. Yes, Roy Acuff is still the definitive version, but Kitty makes a strong, melodic argument for having the second-best version of this beautiful classic, though Ernest Tubb also had a killer version. Kitty’s version, though, is simply outstanding. The song fits her vocals perfectly, and the rhythmic combination of tempo, music, beautiful song, and great voice all come together for a gem of a track. What a way to end the first side!
Side two opens with a song that may well ring of familiarity for those who are into classic Country. “He Will Set Your Fields On Fire” is a bouncy track that comes off pretty well, here, though I don’t think it’s quite as good as Bill Monroe’s version. Kitty’s vocals are fine, but there are a couple of places that sound as if she’s hitting her lower limits.
“We Buried Her Beneath The Willows” is a downer of a song. But that style of song is one of the cornerstones of what built Country Music. That said, if you don’t mind the depressing nature of the tune, it’s not a bad song, overall.
If you’ve never heard it before, you will like “(I’ve Got My) One-Way Ticket To The Sky”. Bouncy, infectious, fun, uplifting, great vocal by Kitty, and a stellar arrangement…what more need I say? Like “Dust On The Bible”, it was also written and sang by The Bailes Brothers; in fact, both songs appeared on the same 78 rpm disc, one that I just recently acquired.
“I Need The Prayers” may well have the best lyrics on the album. A mid tempo track, that states what we all need, the prayers of our loved ones. A really good track.
Nothing fancy, special, or spectacular, but “Matthew Twenty-Four” is a good solid effort. Again, (and I know I’m sounding like a broken record, no pun intended) stellar vocal work from Kitty, mixed with nearly flawless playing.
And a really nice track to end the album, “Lord I’m Coming Home”. Kitty slows things down, here, with mainly a guitar and organ to accompany her. The quietness of this song, really lets one soak in the lyrics and their message. And it’s hard to find a better messenger than Kitty Wells.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this album enjoyed a long run in the Decca/MCA catalog. Not currently available, it has been on CD, and used copies are available, most that I saw were around $20. Note: There is a “Dust On The Bible” CD currently on the market, but it’s not this album. As for the vinyl, the price will vary widely, depending on which label, condition, and stereo/mono, etc. I can’t say it’s the only one, but I’m pretty certain it’s one of the few albums to have been pressed with both the black/gray label and black, white, color-bar labels of Decca, along with the black, white, and blue labels of MCA. I saw prices anywhere from $10 to $40. It is also my understanding that the tracks from this album are also part of a Bear Family collection of Kitty’s music.
“Dust On The Bible” is the Standout Track, while the Hidden Gem could be any number of songs on the disc. My choice is “My Loved Ones Are Waiting For Me”. There really isn’t a Weakest Track, here.
Overall, this is a classic disc, in my opinion. One that is worthy of having in your collection. Kitty nails the vocals on all twelve of the tracks, and as I previously mentioned, the musicianship is superb. There is really nothing to dislike on this album. A simply wonderful piece of work, I’d say of all of the Country-Gospel albums I’ve heard, this one, along with Buck Owens’ “Dust On Mother’s Bible” and Stuart Hamblen’s “It Is No Secret” have to be the top three. I’m just not sure in which order. This one, like the other two, merits and easy 5 out of 5.
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