Classic Album Review-Roy Acuff “Sings Famous Opry Favorites”
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Today’s Classic Album Review is a mere one year younger than yours truly (the album, not the review). From 1967, it’s time to remember Roy Acuff’s Hickory Records release Roy Acuff Sings Famous Opry Favorites. It’s an album of The King Of Country Music singing cover versions of hits from the likes of Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe, and Don Gibson, just to name a few. The album failed to crack the Country bestseller lists as did both singles from the album.
Opening things on this album is Roy’s take on the Hank Snow classic “I’m Movin’ On”. It’s interesting to hear Roy sing these songs as most are a departure from the type of songs he normally sang. In addition, the arrangements are nothing like the typical Smokey Mountain Boys sound, but rather a contemporary traditional sound (for 1967). The aging is starting to creep into his voice, at this point, but there’s still enough in the tank that the vocals are still quality stuff on this track. I like Roy’s take on this track. This was the album’s first single, but failed to chart.
The Ernest Tubb’s “Tomorrow Never Comes” has more of the traditional Acuff sound, but here, I think they keyed the song too low, as he seems to struggle to hit the lowest nights. Decent track, but I think a little higher key would have done wonders for this one. It’s nice, though, how they ended the song very similar as to how the Texas Troubadours would have.
Roy Acuff gives a nice interpretation of the George Morgan hit, “Candy Kisses”. The vocals are good, here, and again, the arrangement, a mix of of the traditional Acuff sound and contemporary sounds, melds extremely well, giving you a very enjoyable track to listen.
Pretty much the same story with “I Love You Because” as it was with “Candy Kisses”. Even as his voice aged and lost it’s luster, Roy could still sell a song as well as anyone, this album is no exception. One note, the album credits Jim Reeves as the hit man for “I Love You Because” and while Jim did, indeed record the song, the hit version was actually the song’s writer, Leon Payne, along with another version by Ernest Tubb.
“Filipino Baby” may be Roy’s best vocals on the album. Roy simply nails this track, where he actually uses the vocal repeats that Cowboy Copas had used, but Ernest Tubb had not. Roy’s version is quicker than either of the other mentioned versions, as well. The banjo, featured prominent here, gives the track an almost bluegrass feel.
Side one ends with “I’ll Go On Alone”. The song was written by Marty Robbins and was one of his first hits, while also hitting for Webb Pierce. This is another good track that really melds everything ranging from Roy’s vocals to the arrangement and the song, very well. This was the album’s second single, hitting the market in the Spring of 1968.
“Foggy River” is the track that opens side two. The album mentions a 1946 version by Red Foley, but the biggest hit version was actually Carl Smith’s 1968 version. Roy gives a pretty decent version, here.
If there’s a track, here, that could be a potential train wreck, it would likely be Don Gibson’s Country-rocker “Oh Lonesome Me”. And while it’s not the best track on the album, it’s far from a train wreck, as Roy Acuff gives a more than credible performance, here. Not really Roy’s style of song, but it works okay.
Next, Roy tackles the Hank Locklin hit “Send Me The Pillow You Dream On”, featuring a heavy dose of dobro, likely Bashful Brother Oswald. This track isn’t quite as good as the others, Roy’s vocals sound a bit tired, here.
However, on “A Satisfied Mind”, the voice is as strong as anywhere on the album, as Roy gives another of the album’s best performances. A great song for Roy Acuff to cover.
Another song that might surprise some as to how well Roy handles is the Carl & Pearl Butler classic “Don’t Let Me Cross Over”. In fact, I’ll go so far as to call it another of the album’s standout tracks. Roy Acuff nails it, here.
To finish off this album, Roy and the band let it all out on Bill Monroe’s “Uncle Pen”. A rousing version where it sounds like everyone is having fun doing some picking and singing.
Not on the market, but I did find a few used copies, mostly under $10.
My pick for Standout Track is “Don’t Let Me Cross Over”. As for Hidden Gem, I’m going with “Uncle Pen” and here’s why; my 6 year old daughter has fallen in love with this version, in fact, I’ve had to play it 4 or 5 times while finishing this post! As for Weakest Track, I’m going with ‘Send Me The Pillow You Dream On”, Roy’s voice just sounds off or tired, here.
Overall, it’s pretty decent collection by the King Of Country Music, Roy Acuff. Before the first time I ever heard this album, I had some reservations, as Roy Acuff is best, singing those “mountain” type songs like “The Precious Jewel”. But he gave some very good performances on this album, definitely worth giving a listen to, especially if you are a Roy Acuff fan. I rate it a 4 out of 5.