Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always around. It’s a various artists collection for today’s Classic Album Review. Classic Country Duets, a 1985 MCA release, featured ten tracks from artists affiliated with MCA, as well as it’s predecessors, Decca and Dot.
The album starts out with a hit from Don Williams and Emmylou Harris, their 1982 top five hit, “If I Needed You”. Their voices work pretty well, together, but the real highlight of this track, is the composition, itself. Great piece of writing.
Next, a track lifted from the Barbara Mandrell Spun Gold album, is a Mandrell duet with Steve Wariner, “Overnight Sensation”. An average piece that really has very little country to it, the sound is mainly 1980′s Adult Contemporary.
While the previous track really couldn’t be considered a “classic”, the next track has not problem falling into that category. ”For Loving You”, the first in a series of duets for Bill Anderson and Jan Howard, spent a month at number one, at the end of 1967. Great track.
Remember, this album was released in 1985, when older performances weren’t nearly as readily available as they are now, so it was great to see the inclusion of the Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely hit “Wish I Didn’t Have To Miss You”. Easily the best of their duets, together, this just missed number one, at the start of 1970. Hank Cochran co-wrote the song; he and co-writer Dave Kirby surely had these two in mind when writing it, as it’s perfect for their vocals.
Side one ends with a track that features Ernest Tubb and Loretta Lynn. I guess using the term “classic”, they were referring more to the performers, as opposed to the performances. ”Sweet Thang” was a single, but missed the Country 40 in 1968 (whereas the version by Nat Stuckey was a top five hit). While it’s a decent performance, I would have rather seen “Mr. And Mrs. Used To Be” included.
The other really inexplicable addition opens side two, a Lee Greenwood and Barbara Mandrell duet from their Meant For Each Other album titled “Soft Shoulder”. Not even the best track on their album, why someone at MCA would use this over, say their hit, “To Me”, is beyond me. A fast-paced track, the performance is good, but the song is average.
There is a level of redemption, though, with the inclusion of the Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn number one classic “After The Fire Is Gone”. Do I really need to say anything about this outstanding recording?
Though not a hit, I am glad they did include the 1956 single from Roy Acuff and Kitty Wells, “Goodbye Mr. Brown”. Great piece of country music; one has to wonder why it wasn’t a hit.
While The Kendalls didn’t have any real success until “Heaven’s Just A Sin Away” on the Ovation label, they did spend time with Dot in the early 1970′s, releasing several singles, including three minor chart entries on covers of “Leavin’ On A Jet Plane”, “Two Divided By Love”, and “Everything I Own”. Yet, rather than one of those, a track from their only Dot album, a cover of “Never Ending Song Of Love”, was used, instead. Actually, the strongest of the three non-singles included on this album. Good bouncy, infectious track.
The album ends with a 1978 top ten hit for Merle Haggard and then-wife, Leona Williams. “The Bull And The Beaver” is an up-tempo piece of a man and woman flirting (to say the least) on their CB’s. Not the greatest song of Merle’s career, but it is a likable song.
Now out of print, I did run across a few used copies, most in the $5-$10 range. I found used copies on vinyl, cassette, as well as compact disc.
Albums like this are difficult to pick a Standout or Hidden Gem (though you could argue the Kendalls track, here), since there are usually a plethora of hits, though not so much, here.
Overall, it’s a decent compilation that really could have been better, by simply exchanging a couple of tracks, but still utilizing the same artists. With the advent of digital technologies, most, if not all of these tracks are available, elsewhere. I rate it a 3 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1985, After The Fire Is Gone, Barbara Mandrell, Bill Anderson, classic country, Classic Country Duets, Conway Twitty, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Decca Records, Don Williams, Dot Records, Emmylou Harris, Ernest Tubb, For Loving You, If I Needed You, Jack Greene, Jan Howard, Jeannie Seely, Kitty Wells, Lee Greenwood, Leona Williams, Loretta Lynn, MCA Records, Merle Haggard, Roy Acuff, Steve Wariner, Sweet Thang, The Bull And The Beaver, The Kendalls, Wish I Didn't Have To Miss You
Greetings from Asheville, that musical hot-spot of Western North Carolina. Today’s Single Of The Day continues with yesterday’s, as we look at the original version.
Yesterday, we looked at Ernest Tubb’s version of “Do What You Do Do Well”, today, it’s the original. It’s been stated that in the opinions of some, the biggest reason that Ned Miller never became a superstar, was because of his strong fear of performing live, which caused him to do just minimal appearances. Yet, despite that, he was still able to score eight Country 40 singles, with two top tens, “From A Jack To A King” and today’s Single Of The Day, “Do What You Do Do Well”.
Ned was also a fine songwriter, having written the hits “Dark Moon”, and “A Falling Star”, in addition to his own hit singles. As for today’s single, it made it’s debut on the Country 40 in January, 1965, on the Fabor label. Becoming Ned’s second top 10 hit, it would peak at seven, by early Spring, just as the Ernest Tubb version was beginning to climb the charts. The biggest difference between the two (other than singing styles) is that while both are up tempo, I feel like this version has a little more pep or energy to it. Both are fine recordings, but my fave is the Ned Miller disc.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where I’ve finally been given some time to get things rolling, again, with the blog. Today’s Single Of The Day is a 1965 “Almost Hit” from the legendary Ernest Tubb. By the mid-1960′s, Ernest’s days as a major hit maker were all but done. Fifty-eight times he had reached the top ten, but only one of those came during the sixties, with 1963′s “Thanks A Lot”. But Ernest was still able to crack the Country 40 with some regularity during the first half of the decade, and on occasion, even crack the Country 20. Today’s single didn’t quite do that well, but it did sneak inside the Country 30.
Ernest’s seventy-sixth country 40 single (all on Decca) made it’s debut in March, 1965, a cover version of the Ned Miller hit, “Do What You Do Do Well”. As you know, there was a time when multiple versions of a song being on the market simultaneously was commonplace, but by this time, it was becoming more of a rarity. However, just as Ned Miller’s version was climbing into the top 10, here came ET’s version. Ernest’s version didn’t fare nearly as well (as previously stated), as it only peaked at twenty-nine. Is it as good as the original? Not quite, but it is far from an inferior product, as Ernest gives a fine performance of the song, with his unique singing style, which probably helped the record get more attention than it otherwise might have gotten.
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 looks back at a 1991 release that finally returned some of the great hits of the legendary Red Foley to the domestic market. Today, it’s not difficult, in most cases, to find albums from country music legends, but believe it or not, during the 1980′s, in some cases it was practically impossible, and Red Foley is a great example. I don’t profess to know why this was, though I do believe some of it had to do with a 1970′s shortage of particular materials used to make vinyl albums, which caused labels to delete many albums from their catalogs. In the 1980′s, you could find a few albums by many of the legends, though many of those were re-records of their hits. Others, though, were nearly impossible to find. Luckily for us, this began changing with the advent of the compact disc.
MCA had a series of releases titled Country Music Hall Of Fame Series, that featured acts such as Foley, along with Tex Ritter, Uncle Dave Macon, Kitty Wells, and Grandpa Jones, among others. The Red Foley version was released in April, 1991, and from what I can see, was the first U. S. release on Red Foley, since Pickwick’s 1976 repackaging of his Let’s All Sing To Him album.
The hits packages from the early days of the compact disc could be inconsistent; sometimes including several non-hits, alternate takes, or mostly uninteresting jibberish between the artist and producer prior to the song. Thankfully, most of that’s gone on newer releases. And overall, MCA did a pretty decent job with this album.
Of course, there are the hits that you would expect; “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy”, “Midnight”, “Alabama Jubilee”, “Tennessee Border”, “Tennessee Saturday Night”, “Peace In The Valley”, “Sugarfoot Rag”, and “Old Shep”. It should be noted, though, that “Old Shep” is not the original 1941 recording, but rather a 1946 remake. The swap is acknowledged in the liner notes, but no reason is given. Perhaps the original master was damaged?
While Tennessee Ernie Ford may well be country music’s greatest Gospel singer, it could be strongly argued that Red Foley was number two, and three of his best works are included; the aforementioned “Peace In The Valley”, “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” (a 1950 top ten hit), and “When God Dips His Love In My Heart”.
1945′s “Hang Your Head In Shame” and 1950′s “Careless Kisses” are interesting choices, as though they both were top ten hits, there were much bigger hits in the Foley catalog that were passed over. And the same goes with the Ernest Tubb duet, “Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Age”; again a top ten hit (1950), but “Goodnight Irene” and “Tennessee Border #2″ were bigger hits. I’d have gone for one of those.
The other track included that befuddles me is “Deep Blues”. While it is a nice, bluesy number (and Red Foley did Country-Blues as well as anyone), it was merely the B-side to “Midnight”. ”Birmingham Bounce, “MISSISSIPPI”, “Smoke On The Water”, and “Cincinnati Dancing Pig” would have all made more sense to have been used.
The collection also touches on Foley’s numerous duets. In addition to his work with Ernest Tubb, the album also includes the 1954 number one hit with Kitty Wells, “One By One”, as well as his top ten duet with his daughter, Betty, “As Far As I’m Concerned” (1954).
This album is still available, both as a CD and an MP3 download, and for the price, it’s a nice pickup. However, if you’re really into Red Foley music or Country music history, in general, you may want to look around, as there are some more in-depth collections now on the market.
Overall, a nice album that, again, for the price, is a nice introduction to the music of a man who’s contributions are sometimes overlooked, despite his immense popularity, back in the day. Red Foley was an outstanding vocalist who, along with Eddy Arnold and George Morgan, helped smooth out the Country music sound. I rate this album a 4.5 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1991, Alabama Jubilee, As Far As I'm Concerned, Betty Foley, Careless Kisses, Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy, classic country, country albums, Country Music, Country Music Hall Of Fame Series, country oldies, Don't Be Ashamed Of Your Age, Ernest Tubb, Hang Your Head In Shame, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Kitty Wells, MCA, Midnight, Old Shep, One By One, Peace In The Valley, Red Foley, Sugarfoot Rag, Tennessee Border, Tennessee Saturday Night, When God Dips His Love In My Heart
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.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1967, Bill Monroe, Carl Butler, Carl Smith, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Cowboy Copas, Don Gibson, Ernest Tubb, Famous Opry Favorites, George Morgan, Hank Locklin, Hank Snow, Hickory Records, Jim Reeves, Leon Payne, Marty Robbins, Red Foley, Roy Acuff, Webb Pierce