Greetings from Asheville, where the good music is always on the turntable, and on the exclusive home of the Ultimate Twang radio show, Asheville Free Media. Today’s Single Of The Day had all of the ingredients to be a classic chart-topper; a great sound, strong composition written by a top songwriter, tied together by a legendary voice. Yet, amazingly, the record, while a hit, didn’t perform nearly as well as one might think. The record is “Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley, co-written by Eddie Rabbitt. Released January, 1970, by RCA Victor, the record could be found not only on the Country 40, but also the Top 40 and the Adult Contemporary chart. While it did top the AC chart (as well as Canada’s Country chart), the single could only muster a peak of sixteen on the pop charts, while only peaking at thirty-one on the Country side.
But that’s not the end of the tale. Since it’s chart run, the record has maintained a long level of popularity that’s kept it in rotation on country (now mostly classic country), AC, oldies, and even easy listening formats, up through today. How many other 1970 releases can boast that? Not many.
So, while it’s chart performance may not be eye-catching, it’s endearing longevity to music fans has helped turn it into a classic.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable or in the CD player; even the MP3 player. Today’s Classic Album Review dips into the deep discography of the Tennessee Plowboy, Eddy Arnold. The number of Eddy Arnold albums numbers well into the hundreds, when you figure in original releases, along with all of the compilations, as well. One of those compilations is the subject of today’s Classic Album Review. In The Chapel is a 1999 release from BMG Special Products, featuring the Gospel side of Eddy, a side not often seen. Like most artists of his era, Eddy Arnold recorded a few Gospel sides during his early days at RCA Victor. Later, he and RCA would also record four albums of Gospel music; When It’s Round-Up Time In Heaven, a 1954 10″ album, 1956′s The Chapel On The Hill, 1958′s Praise Him, Praise Him, and the final release, Faithfully Yours from 1963. Nine of the ten tracks, here, come from these albums. One track, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”, appeared on 1952′s All Time Hits From The Hills, also a 10″ release, as well as 1956′s Anytime compilation.
One of the best Gospel recordings that Eddy Arnold ever produced opens this collection. ”I Love To Tell The Story” is taken from the Faithfully Yours LP, featuring the warm, relaxed style that Eddy had perfected, by the 1960′s. That style works perfectly, here, mixed with just the right amount of instrumentation that enhance, rather than overpower, Eddy’s fine vocal performance.
Also from the same album is a solid recording of “The Unclouded Day”. While I’ve always thought the way Willie Nelson tore it up on this song, several years later, was the best rendition, this one is a fine interpretation that I’m sure, had to satisfy nearly all of Eddy’s fans.
“It Took A Miracle” is an okay track. One of those tracks, that to listen to, isn’t likely to be near the top of my “choice listen” list, but Eddy Arnold does a good performance on this track from the The Chapel On The Hill release.
I do like Eddy’s version of the classic “Crying In The Chapel”, another track from the Chapel On The Hill release. It’s a rare composition of a slow, quiet song that still allows the vocalist to belt out his part, effectively, as Eddy does, here. In it’s day, “Crying In The Chapel” was a big, big record, as it was a 1953 Country hit for both Darrell Glenn and Rex Allen, while scoring on the R & B charts for the group, The Orioles. And, of course, it later would hit again for Elvis.
Another excellent track, again, dips from the Faithfully Yours release, in “God Walks These Hills With Me”. Again, perfect style for the composition.
“Near The Cross” is the only representative from the Praise Him, Praise Him disc. A great, old-timey church feel to it. You can just hear this rendition coming from one of those little country churches that once were, and in some cases still are, dotted across rural America.
Eddy Arnold then tackles a Stuart Hamblen classic, as he performs “It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)”. Taken from the The Chapel On The Hill album, it’s a good performance, lots of feeling to it, but still not quite the same level of the Hamblen original.
The version of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” that Eddy Arnold serves up, is the original lyrics that were in circulation long before the later rendition made famous by the Carter Family in the late 1920′s. It’s simply good, solid Country-Gospel, 1940′s-style.
While there may not be anything particularly special about “The Voice In The Old Village Choir”, it’s still a solid Eddy Arnold performance, with lyrics that just seem to grab your attention.
The final cut on the compilation is “The Chapel On The Hill”. In addition to being the title cut to the 1956 release, it also appeared on the 10″ release When It’s Round-Up Time In Heaven. A rather nice end to a pretty decent collection.
Currently out of print, it was originally issued on both CD and cassette, of which I located used copies of each, generally under $10. As for the original albums that these tracks were taken from, I found a copy of When It’s Round-Up Time In Heaven, listed at $31. As for The Chapel On The Hill, several used copies were located, ranging from $5 to $30, with the lower prices generally going for the later pressings, in some cases with the reprocessed stereo effects. Used copies of Praise Him, Praise Him generally were listed in the $10 to $25 range, while Faithfully Yours ranged from $3 to $20.
“I Love To Tell The Story” is my Standout Track. I give “Crying In The Chapel” my Hidden Gem nod, because even though the song is well known, many may not be familiar with this version. There really isn’t a Weakest Track.
Overall, it’s a very nice compilation effort, that, considering it’s budget status with only ten tracks (but also a low price, upon it’s release), gives a pretty good overview of Eddy Arnold’s sacred recordings. What would really be nice, would be for BMG/Sony to release a package featuring all four of the original albums. As it is, this is a decent substitute, a 3.5 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: BMG Special Products, Darrell Glenn, Eddy Arnold, Elvis Presley, Faithfully Yours, In The Chapel, Praise Him! Praise Him!, RCA Victor, Rex Allen, The Chapel On The Hill, The Orioles, When It's Round Up Time In Heaven
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 is what I think is one of the most underrated hits of the career of the legendary Elvis Presley. Not only underrated, but also one of his most country performances.
“Help Me” was a Summertime 1974 hit for Elvis. Debuting on RCA Victor in June, it would climb into the top ten, by Summer’s end, peaking at six. The mid tempo piece asking for help from the Man Upstairs, is one of Elvis’ most Country sounds, fitting right in with the Nashville Sound grouping. It’s also simply a great record, yet often overlooked when Elvis hits are bandied about, which is a shame. It’s also one of the relatively few Elvis recordings to score with the Country audience, while being overlooked by the Pop folk, who instead, preferred the flip-side, “If You Talk In Your Sleep”.
As always, take a moment and drop me a comment about the post and tell me what you think.
Tomorrow, we’ll look back at a former number one single.
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. Today’s Classic Album Review is an interesting album, a collection of popular songs o the late 1960′s, performed by Nat Stuckey. An accomplished songwriter, as a singer, Nat had a good career, scoring twenty-five Country 40 hits, with four climbing into the top ten. New Country Roads was his seventh album release, fourth since joining RCA Victor’s roster. Released in November, 1969, it would peak at twenty-seven on the Country charts, while spawning one single, “Cut Across Shorty”.
The album opens with an interesting choice, “In The Year 2525”. Of course, the song was a huge Pop hit for Zager & Evans, and believe it or not, it’s not as bad or awkward as you might think it would be. This arrangement doesn’t have quite the dramatic feel of the original, which the song really needs. The song, itself, though, works really well with Nat Stuckey’s vocals.
Next up, is his take on the Box Tops’ “The Letter”. Interesting thing, here, is Nat’s style is much closer to the slower, bluesier Joe Cocker version, the exception being a couple of parts where the tempo kicks up into a high gear (“She wrote me a letter saying she couldn’t live without me….”). I really like how he handled this track, my only thing, here, is I wish they would have kept the whole track in the slower pace.
“Cut Across Shorty” is a song that I don’t think I’d quite call it a Country-rocker, but it’s close. In fact, it’s origins lie with a 1960 single by Rockabilly legend Eddie Cochran. Carl Smith also had a minor hit with it, as well. Nat’s version cracked the top fifteen during the Summer of 1969.
Another track that he performs well, here, is Elvis’ “In The Ghetto”. Does a really fine job, here.
Side one ends with Nat Stuckey’s take on the Guess Who classic “These Eyes”. Not a bad track, but for me, the song loses something when sung by a lower pitched voice such as Stuckey’s, especially when compared to Burton Cummings’ unforgettable performance. I love the arrangement, here, though. Outstanding.
Turning your attention to side two, you are greeted with a version of “Bad Moon Rising”, the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic. Again, a song that works a little better with the higher range of the original lead, in this case John Fogerty, but other than that Nat’s work is exceptional and the overall result is still a pretty good listen.
There’s not a whole lot of difference between Nat Stuckey’s version of “Listen To The Band” and the original of The Monkees. I actually think I like Nat’s vocals a little better, actually.
The track on the album that intrigued me the most, prior to my first listening of this album, had to be the Herb Alpert hit “This Guy’s In Love With You”. I thought this might be a really good vehicle for Nat Stuckey’s voice, and it was. His smoothness really comes through, and the song really seems to challenge him, as well. I will go so far as to call this the album’s highlight, right here.
Elvis gets covered, not once, not twice, but three times, with the second track being the Mac Davis-written “Clean Up Your Own Backyard”. The medium-uptempo Country/Rock/Blues mix is one of those tracks that you will get into very easily. Great track, right here.
“Roll Over Beethoven” is out and out Rockabilly, 1969-style. When we recently looked back at the Jerry Lee Lewis/Linda Gail Lewis album that also features the song, and there, I called it a “great version”; here, you get another great version.
The album wraps with Nat’s take on the classic “Hound Dog”. Other than the slightly annoying dog bark at the beginning, this track is a great end to this album. Here, Nat gives it more of the original blues sound, mixing the lyrics heard on Elvis’ classic, along with those of the original 1952 Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton.
This album is long out of print, but used copies can be found and most that I saw were in the $10 to $15 range.
I give “Cut Across Shorty”, the only single, the Standout Track. As for the Hidden Gem, “This Guy’s In Love With You”. As for the Weakest Track, there really isn’t one, here.
Overall, this is an album that before I first listened to it, I had no idea what to expect; a train wreck or average, either one, would have not surprised me. However, this album is, by far, beyond those low levels. Even a song like “In The Year 2525”, that one might think would be an awkward composition for a Country recording, comes off rather nicely. As for the sound, this album is solidly in the Nashville Sound range, with spots that veer off into more pure Pop and Rockabilly. But for this album, with the songs used here, that’s okay, it works. I don’t know what reviewers thought of this album when it came on the market, forty-three years ago, but my opinion of it, today, is a very good effort. I rate it a 4 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1969, Big Mama Thornton, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cut Across Shorty, Eddie Cochran, Elvis Presley, Herb Alpert, Jerry Lee Lewis, Nat Stuckey, New Country Roads, RCA Victor Records, The Box Tops, The Guess Who, The Monkees, Zager And Evans
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Did you catch this week’s show on Asheville Free Media? If not, some great music was spun during our three hours, together. Fear not, though, as this week’s show will be rebroadcast on Sunday morning at 8 EST, and Wednesday morning at 10 EST. Simply go to the Asheville Free Media site and click on listen. You can also go the the Ultimate Twang page at the Asheville Free Media site, and listen anytime.
What came up on this week’s show?
|Bellamy Brothers||Do You Love As Good As You Look|
|George Jones||Color Of The Blues|
|Conway Twitty||Slow Hand|
|Restless Heart||When Somebody Loves You||Almost Hit|
|Ronnie Milsap||Back On My Mind Again|
|Mel Tillis||Old Faithful|
|Hank Williams||I Just Don’t Like This Kind Of Livin’|
|Floyd Cramer||MEDLEY: This World Is Not My Home, I’ll Fly Away, Down In My Heart, Do Lord, Give The World A Smile|
|Rodney Crowell||Above And Beyond|
|Waylon Jennings||The Taker|
|Johnny Cash||I Got Stripes|
|Louise Mandrell||This Bed’s Not Big Enough||Classic Album Track|
|Unknown||Wagon Train Theme|
|Sheb Wooley||That’s My Pa|
|Alabama||Feels So Right|
|Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers||Nothing But Your Love Matters|
|Little Jimmy Dickens||Country Music Lover||Almost Hit|
|Ernest Tubb & Loretta Lynn||Mr And Mrs Used To Be|
|Jerry Lee Lewis||Lonely Weekends|
|Homer And Jethro||Take The A Train|
|Dave & Sugar||Golden Tears|
|Cristy Lane||Simple Little Words|
|Bobby Goldsboro||Muddy Mississippi Line|
|Tanya Tucker||Blood Red And Goin’ Down|
|Cates Sisters||I’ve Been Loved||Almost Hit|
|Bobby Bare||Miller’s Cave|
|Roy Drusky||There’s Always One (Who Loves A Lot)|
|Jimmy Martin||The Shut-In’s Prayer|
|Eddy Arnold||Older And Bolder|
|Crystal Gayle||When I Dream|
|Vern Gosdin||Slow Burnin’ Memory|
|Barbara Mandrell||You Are No Angel||Classic Album Track|
|Lonestar||I’m Already There|
|Hillary Kanter||Good Night For Falling In Love||Almost Hit|
|Hank Thompson||Where Is The Circus|
|Webb Pierce||I Haven’t Got The Heart|
|Boots Randolph||Walking The Floor Over You|
|Merle Haggard||I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am|
|Johnny Lee||Cherokee Fiddle|
|Homer And Jethro||I’m Movin’ On #2|
|Patsy Cline||She’s Got You|
|Jim Stafford||Little Bits And Pieces||Almost Hit|
|Bill Phillips||The Company You Keep|
|C. W. McCall||Convoy|
|Charley Pride||Amazing Love|
|The Three Suns, Rosalie Allen, & Elton Britt||Beyond The Sunset|
|Hank Williams Jr.||I’m For Love|
|Eddie Rabbitt||Pour Me Another Tequila|
|Elvis Presley||The Impossible Dream||Classic Album Track|
|George Jones||A Girl I Used To Know|
|Deborah Allen||Heartache And A Half||Almost Hit|
|Sons Of The Pioneers||Cool Water|
|Boots Randolph||Y’all Come|
Categories: Artists, Music, & Radio Tags: Alabama, Asheville Free Media, Barbara Mandrell, Bellamy Brothers, Bill Phillips, Bobby Bare, Bobby Goldsboro, Boots Randolph, C. W. McCall, Cates Sisters, Charley Pride, classic country, Conway Twitty, Country Music, country oldies, Crystal Gayle, Deborah Allen, Eddie Rabbitt, Eddy Arnold, Elton Britt, Elvis Presley, Ernest Tubb, George Jones, Glen Campbell, Hank Thompson, Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr., Hillary Kanter, Homer And Jethro, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jim Stafford, Jimmy Martin, John Anderson, Johnny Cash, Johnny Duncan, Johnny Lee, Little Jimmy Dickens, Lonestar, Loretta Lynn, Mel Tillis, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, Ronnie Milsap, Rosalie Allen, Sons Of The Pioneers, Tanya Tucker, The Three Suns, Vern Gosdin, Waylon Jennings, Webb Pierce