Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. Today, we look back at one of the many releases from the legendary Loretta Lynn. Woman Of The World/To Make A Man was Loretta’s fourteenth Decca release (excluding compilations). Released in June, 1969, it was also her final release of the decade. The album did well, peaking at number two on the bestseller lists, while also just breaking into the Top 150 on the Pop side. The album features two hit singles, which, in this case, are both of the title cuts.
One of the title cuts lead off the album, Loretta’s number one hit from Spring of 1969, “Woman Of The World”. One of Loretta’s best, right here. It’s that simple.
“Johnny One Time” is a song that both Willie Nelson and Brenda Lee had singles on, and while Loretta’s version was only an album cut, I would argue it’s as good as the other two versions. Great vocal job, in fact, you’d swear it was written with Loretta in mind, it’s that good.
I also like the ballad “If You Were Mine To Lose”. The song isn’t quite as strong as the first two, but it’s still a very good track, and Loretta’s performance is excellent.
Pretty good, is how I would describe “The Only Time I Hurt”. A steady track that may not stand out, but not likely to skip over, either.
“No One Will Ever Know” was already an old song, when Loretta recorded it for this album, having been released back in the late 1940’s by Roy Acuff. The song would eventually enjoy hit status in 1980, when Gene Watson just missed the top ten with his version. For me, Gene’s is the definitive version, but I really like Loretta’s take; a fine performance.
Side one ends with “Big Sister, Little Sister”, which starts with how the big sister would always make way for the little sister, so the little one could have her way, now they’re adults, a man’s involved;…do you know where this is going? Yep, big sister loves the man, but little sister marries him. That said, for a song that’s pretty easy to peg, it’s not as bad as one might think. Not the album’s best, but not a terrible track.
Side two opens with the album’s other hit single/title track, “To Make A Man (Feel Like A Man)”, which became a top five hit in late Summer, 1969. A bouncy track that I would describe as a typical Loretta song; in this case telling women how they should treat their men.
Next, Loretta Lynn covers the Merle Haggard classic “Today I Started Loving You Again”. A little quicker paced than most version, it almost feels a little rushed, which is unfortunate, because her vocals are good, and with a pace closer to the Haggard original, I think this could have been a killer track. Still decent, though.
Another cover track features Loretta giving her take on the Tammy Wynette classic “Stand By Your Man”. While no one will ever come close to Tammy’s version, this one is decent.
“Ten Little Reasons” is classic Loretta. The self-penned tear-jerker is a great album cut; one of the highlights of the album.
The album has a fine wrap-up with “I’m Lonesome For Trouble Tonight”, which Loretta co-wrote with Doyle Wilburn of the Wilburn Brothers. Good, solid track to put the wraps on this album.
Somewhat surprising that this album has yet to join the ranks of reissues; having been out of print for many years. Used copies are relatively numerous, most that I saw were in the $10 to $15 range.
“Woman Of The World” gets my Standout Track nod, while “Johnny One Time” is the Hidden Gem of this disc. Weakest Track? “Big Sister, Little Sister”; not a terrible track, but lags a bit behind the other ten.
Overall, a solid performance from one of the great legends of the genre. While I wouldn’t consider this to be her best long-play, it’s still a worthy collection of tracks that if you like Loretta Lynn, you’ll most likely enjoy this album. I rate it a 4 out of 5.
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found. Today’s Classic Album Review is the 1969 debut album from Tom T. Hall, Ballad Of Forty Dollars And His Other Great Songs. Released by Mercury in May, the album included five singles already released, including “I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew”, “Beauty Is A Fading Flower”, “The World The Way I Want It”, “Ain’t Got The Time” and the title cut. The album failed to chart, his only non-charting album until 1979’s Saturday Morning Songs.
The album opens with a song that Tom T. Hall wrote, but became a hit for Bobby Bare in 1970, “That’s How I Got To Memphis”. An outstanding song, everytime I hear it, it sticks in my head, be it Tom T.’s or Bobby Bare’s version. I wonder why they didn’t release his version as a single.
Nearly all of us can relate to “Cloudy Day”, as we all have had those times that are on the trying side. As always, Tom T. Hall can put an interesting spin on nearly any subject.
“Shame On The Rain” is a slower, rather bluesy-styled number that comes off pretty well. Great melody, here. Hidden Gem contender.
Another one I really like is “Highways”. A quick-paced piece that compares a journey on highways with the journey of trying to reach someone’s heart. Sound complex? Tom T. Hall makes it work.
Another fine composition, here, is “Forbidden Flowers”, particularly from a lyircal standpoint. While the lyrics speak of flowers, there’s much more hidden in the lyrics, one has to just really listen.
Side one ends with “Ain’t Got The Time”, which charted briefly in the Summer of 1968, is an up tempo piece with lyrics that bring a similar message to a mid-1960’s pop hit, “You’ve Got Your Troubles, I’ve Got Mine”. Nice little track.
Side two opens with the title cut, which also became Tom T. Hall’s first top ten single, “Ballad Of Forty Dollars”. When released as a single in the Fall of 1968, it was completely unlike anything else on Country radio, at the time. No real refrain, a true story song that just tells the whole story of a man’s death and funeral, ending with a surprise; the deceased still owes the narrator forty dollars. It’s my understanding that label execs weren’t sold on this track, but of course, the public loved it, and with good reason.
“I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew” was Tom T. Hall’s first single, and his first Country 40 single, peaking at 30 in 1967. A moralistic message, something once common in the genre, but even by the 1960’s, much less common.
“A Picture Of Your Mother” is a sad song talking about a father and daughter dealing with the loss of their wife/mother, and the daughter wants to know more about her.
“The World The Way I Want It” is yet another up tempo piece that spent a brief time charting as a single in early 1968. A Utopian message that might have been a little more progressive than what country audiences were ready for, at that time. That said, it’s a decent track, lyrically strong.
Whereas much of this album has a distinct folk feel mixed with the country sound, “Over And Over Again” is more straight country (maybe a little country-pop, actually). A basic love song, not anything spectacular, but a nice little track.
The album ends with the fast moving “Beauty Is A Fading Flower”, a non-charting single at the end of 1967. An alright track, again, nothing spectacular, but not bad. Again, pretty strong, lyrically.
Originally released on vinyl, this album is still available as a two-fer compact disc, being paired with his second album, Homecoming. A bit surprising that I didn’t find too many used copies on the market and the few I did find were in the $10 to $15 range.
The title cut gets my Standout Track nod, while I’m giving “That’s How I Got To Memphis” my Standout Track nod. If there’s one track that’s a little weaker than the rest, I’d say “A Picture Of Your Mother”, but then again, that may be because it’s a bit too depressing for me.
Overall, not a bad debut effort that started what ultimately wound up to be a Hall of Fame career. This isn’t his strongest album, but it’s a good album that a Tom T. Hall fan should enjoy. I rate it a 3.5 out of 5.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1968, 1969, Ain't Got The Time, Ballad Of Forty Dollars, Beauty Is A Fading Flower, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew, Mercury Records, The World The Way I Want It, Tom T. Hall
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always to be found. Today’s Classic Album Review is from one of Nashville’s trendsetters of the late 1960’s, the legendary brass-man, Danny Davis. When Davis joined the RCA Victor roster, in the latter part of the 1960’s, he had already tasted success as a producer, having produced several of Connie Francis’ hits for MGM, while also playing a major role in bringing Herman’s Hermits to the label. In addition, he released several albums with MGM. Yet, his impact wouldn’t be fully felt, until the formation of his now-famous band, The Nashville Brass. The story is that, Danny had an idea of recording country music, using brass instead of a vocalist, and after having the idea rejected by RCA’s New York executives, he approached their Nashville head, Chet Atkins, who thought it was a very good idea and gave him the green light to proceed. Danny entered the studio with a small ensemble of trumpets and trombones, along with a rhythm section that featured the likes of Floyd Cramer, John Hartford, and Grady Martin, among others. The result was The Nashville Brass Play The Nashville Sound
, in 1968. That album would peak at thirty-three on the country bestseller lists, not bad for an album featuring something completely unheard of in the generally conservative country music field. Today’s album, Movin’ On, was Danny’s third release for RCA Victor. Hitting the shelves in October, 1969, it was the follow-up to his first top ten album, The Nashville Brass Featuring Danny Davis Play More Nashville Sound. Movin’ On didn’t fare quite as well, yet it still was a decent seller, climbing as high as sixteen on the country album charts. One track was released as a single, “Wabash Cannonball”, but could only muster a high sixties peak. Much like the preceding two releases, the album is mainly covers of hits that spanned the previous 20-25 years. The opening track is the Hank Snow classic, “I’m Movin’ On”, of course, sounding nothing like the original. It’s a swinging sound, answering the question of how country music sounded with a little big band-style mixed in. The answer is “pretty darned good”. Next, it’s a take on the Tammy Wynette hit, “The Ways To Love A Man”. The slower tempo piece features a nice mix of brass instruments, set to a pure country arrangement of that era. Nice piece. “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” comes off just a little too slick, for me. It’s not bad, but the song just seems to work better with a little more sparse arrangement. “Release Me” is done in the slower style, similar in tempo to the Engelbert Humperdinck version, though the arrangement is pure Nashville Sound. The richly produced sound that came off a little too slick on the previous track, works very well, here. One of the album’s highlights would be Davis’ take on the Claude King classic, “Wolverton Mountain”. A bit of a rockin’ beat and a significant piano roll, mix almost perfectly with the brass sounds, creating a unique listening experience. Side one end with Roy Clark’s hit, “Yesterday When I Was Young”. It’s not bad, but it seems like they are skirting with a Mexican-influenced sound, without jumping all the way in, which is too bad, because I think that would have worked wonderfully with this song. Another highlight of the album is the rollicking version of “Wabash Cannonball”. Simply put, great track. Who knew trombones and banjos could work so well, together? The next track comes from the discography of Davis’ label-mate, Charley Pride. “All I Have To Offer You (Is Me)”. Not a bad effort, coming out with a really different sound, in fact, you can really hear the contrast, here, between the big band feel of the brass melody; and the strong country arrangement in the background. “Hey, Good Lookin'” goes off in a completely different direction than one would expect. The fast-paced tempo is set by an arrangement that has a very strong dose of the late 1960’s pop-rock sound. Interestingly enough, it’s a Hank Williams song that has the strongest pop feel on the disc. One would think that a song like “Sweet Dreams” would be a perfect fit for this style of sound. One would be correct. Another of the album’s highlights, this is a stellar piece. Of course, one of the things that made Johnny Cash’s hit, “Ring Of Fire” stand out, was the brass. And it’s the same, here. An arrangement that is smoother than the original, of course, but the overall effect is quite good. Long out of print, this album was originally released on vinyl, and most likely, 8-track. I don’t know if it ever appeared on cassette. I found many used copies for sale, all vinyl, and the majority were under $10. “Wabash Cannonball” gets the Standout Track nod, while the Hidden Gem has to be “Sweet Dreams”, though I like the direction they took with “Hey Good Lookin'”. “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” gets the Weakest Track. Overall, it may not be an album that you want to hear, continuously, but on occasion, it’s a nice collection to spin. A nice mix of song styles, and eras, and in 1969, a sound completely different than anything else from Nashville. I rate it a 3.5 out of 5. Your thoughts? Tweet
During the second half of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, Dave was a fixture in or near the top ten on the country charts. Twelve times he would score top ten hits, including today’s Single Of The Day. Though Dave is mainly remembered for his trucking-themed songs, his hit list actually includes more than that theme; songs about military, angry spouses, drinking, and love, which is the theme of today’s hit.
Released in the Fall of 1968, “Please Let Me Prove (My Love For You)” entered the Country 40 in November, and by the end of January, 1969, would find itself as high as ten on the charts.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player.
Live albums are almost always difficult to judge. The intent usually being to trying to transfer the feel of that live performance to vinyl or disc, with varying degrees of success. Today’s Classic Album Review focuses on an album that I feel like does a pretty successful job of that; Merle Haggard’s 1969 release Okie From Muskogee. Recorded live in Muskogee, Oklahoma, it’s forty-four minutes of a stellar, live performance of Merle Haggard and his Strangers. The album did quite well upon it’s release by Capitol in December, 1969, as it would spend five weeks at number one on the Country album charts in March and May, 1970, while also cracking the Pop Top 50, while selling over a million copies.
The album opens with a version of “Mama Tried” that stays pretty close to the original hit version, then is followed by a great Merle Haggard performance on the oft-forgotten song from Jimmie Rodgers, “No Hard Times”. Merle, a devoted fan of the legendary Mississippi Blue Yodeler, is one of the few artists who can do Rodgers’ songs as well as Rodgers could, which is very apparent on this track, as well as the later “Hobo Bill’s Last Ride”.
“Silver Wings” is one of the greatest “non-hits” in Country music history, appearing as the B-side to his classic “Working Man Blues” single. Here, the live version is just as good as the original. And speaking of “Working Man Blues”, it’s the hit that strays most from the original, which isn’t far. Just slightly quicker paced and no hammer effect.
When Merle sings a medley of his hits, again, he does them in a most true fashion. That medley included “Swinging Doors”, “Sing Me Back Home”, “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive”, and “Branded Man”.
Merle takes a quick break after the medley, to let his bass player, Gene Price, sing a song, “In The Arms Of Love”, a song Price co-wrote with Buck Owens. Not a bad track.
After opening side two with the aforementioned “Hobo Bill’s Last Ride”, Merle performs a song that he says was just written days prior to the show, “Billy Overcame His Size”, which tells of a young man who grew up much smaller in stature than others his age, and ultimately joined the military and died a hero. It’s vintage Haggard.
“If I Had Left It Up To You” is also vintage Merle Haggard. Great ballad and equally great performance.
“White Line Fever” is another of the great “non-hits” of Country music’s past. Here’s one of the things about Merle; he had album cuts and single B-sides that were better than many other artists’ hit singles.
“Blue Rock” gives his band, The Strangers, a chance to show off their immense skills and further cement their legacy as one of the greatest backing bands in Country music history.
And finally, the album wraps with the title cut. This is actually the version I grew up with, that our local radio station would play. Again, not straying too far from the original; and it’s obvious the crowd, along with millions of Merle Haggard fans, love it.
This album is still on the market, both as a CD and MP3 download. As for used copies, they are plentiful and relatively inexpensive, based on my search.
It’s really hard to pick a Standout Track or a Hidden Gem, here, but I will try; “Okie From Muskogee” for the Standout Track, merely because it’s one of my all-time favorite Haggard hits. My Hidden Gem goes to “If I Had Left It Up To You”, great work. Nothing even resembling a Weak Track, here.
Overall, this is a great live album. My only regret is that it is edited, which is easy to hear the editing points throughout. Now, whether that editing was merely crowd noise and talking, or if there were additional songs that were left out, I do not know. If there were more songs, therein lies the regret. Still, not enough to take away from an outstanding collection of music. This one is a 5 out of 5, in my book.
Your thoughts? Let me know what you think of this classic, by leaving a comment below.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1969, 1970, Branded Man, Capitol Records, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Hobo Bill's Last Ride, I'm A Lonesome Fugitive, Jimmie Rodgers, Mama Tried, Merle Haggard, Okie From Muskogee, Silver Wings, Sing Me Back Home, Swinging Doors, White Line Fever, Working Man Blues