A look back at this past week's Ultimate Twang radio program, heard on Asheville Freemedia's WSFM-LP, 103.3FM in Asheville and at http://ashevillefm.org, worldwide
Categories: Artists, Music, & Radio Tags: Anne Murray, AshevilleFM, Brooks And Dunn, Buck Owens, Chet Atkins, Conway Twitty, Country Music, Don Gibson, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell, Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs, Sonny James, Tanya Tucker, Ultimate Twang, Waylon Jennings, WSFM
Webb Pierce, Sonny James, Brooks & Dunn, John Denver, Ray Price, The Judds, Billie Jo Spears, Bill Monroe, Rodney Crowell, Loretta Lynn, Ronnie Milsap, Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, Garth Brooks. Oh, and that’s just a partial list of who to expect on today’s show. Make sure you join me, online, beginning at 4p ET at Asheville Freemedia’s website (click the name to go there). I promise you’re gonna love it!
Categories: Artists, Music, & Radio Tags: Asheville Free Media, Bill Monroe, Billie Jo Spears, Brooks & Dunn, Eddy Arnold, Garth Brooks, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Ray Price, Rodney Crowell, Ronnie Milsap, Sonny James, The Judds, Webb Pierce
The Rebel was a western that ran on ABC-TV, between 1959 and 1961. Starring Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma, an ex-Confederate soldier wandering the west, where he’d wind up helping others in need. Johnny Cash sang the original intro for the series, and in 1961, it became a single that briefly appeared on the Country charts. Cash had actually recorded the track during an August, 1959 session, but Columbia didn’t issue it until Spring, 1961, ironically as the series was ending. The single debuted in June, peaking at twenty-four, while falling just short of the Pop “Hot 100”.
Unlike the actual intro heard during the television show, which was performed slow, with a sparse arrangement, the single is a rousing version, that features more of the Hollywood-Western kind of sound, despite that the accompaniment is Cash’s backing group, along with the Anita Kerr Singers.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where the good music flows like a fine wine. Today’s Classic Album Review is of 1968 vintage; February, to be exact. Bill Anderson and Jan Howard, in my opinion, is one of country music’s more underrated duos. While there hit list isn’t as long as Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn’s or Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton’s, a listen to their harmonies reveals a sound that is nearly as good as the more famous pairings. Interestingly enough, of the three duos, Bill and Jan had the longest running number one single, 4 weeks, with “For Loving You”, the title cut of today’s featured album. The album was released by Decca Records about a month after the single peaked at number one. While “For Loving You” was the album’s only hit single, the album, itself, did quite well, peaking at six on the album lists.
“For Loving You” would turn out to be one of the top hits of 1967. It opens the album in style, giving you one of the classic sounds of the era. Simply a great track.
Next, you get a completely different take on a Buck Owens hit, as Bill Anderson and Jan Howard take on “Above And Beyond (The Call Of Love)”. It’s given a slower, slicker pace than the original, but it works pretty well, overall.
Unfortunately, for me, “I Love You Because” doesn’t come off nearly as well. It feels as if they’re trying to give it the same feel as “For Loving You”, from the tempo, right down to the spoken parts, yet for this track, it just doesn’t quite work for me. Had they done it in it’s original form, though, I think it could have been a killer track.
One track that does work well is their take on the Hank Cochran song “I’d Fight The World”. It was a minor 1962 hit for Hank, and a hit in 1974 for Jim Reeves. Right here is some of the best work these two ever did, together.
You get a nice pickup in tempo with their take on Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line”. Don’t expect anything like the original, but that’s okay, the Bill Anderson and Jan Howard take on this classic works pretty well.
Side one ends with “Till Death Do Us Part”, which again, tries to emulate the “For Loving You” sound, and again, for me, falls a little short. Not a bad track, yet, not one that will particularly stay with you, either.
While some of the efforts to take copy the sound and style of “For Loving You” fall a little flat, side two’s opening track is a solid effort. “I Thank God For You” is in the same vein, yet with enough difference to not sound like a clone, this track is about a step below the title cut, in quality, but still very good, in fact, I think they might have missed a potential hit single, here.
Another enjoyable track is their take on the Lulu Belle And Scotty classic, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”. A really nice interpretation, it sounds like the song was written specifically for Bill Anderson and Jan Howard.
On “Born To Be With You”, you get nothing fancy, just a good, solid take on the Chordettes’ hit, that later in 1968, would hit number one on the country charts for Sonny James. Nice, smooth sound, here.
Okay, how many times has this subject been used in a country song (even by 1968)? Man leaves girlfriend to roam the world and (in his mind) to make his fortune. The girlfriend vows to remain true to him, no matter how long he’s gone or no matter what happens. Sadly, when he does return, the girlfriend is now either someone else’s wife, or she has died (the latter happens, here). Such is the case with “I’ll Be Waiting”. Though the subject is an oft-used one, the song doesn’t have the “been-there, heard-that” feel to it. You will find a good track, here.
Wrapping up the collection is a good version of the old standard, “Beyond The Sunset”. I think there’s a more intimate feel, here, than in most versions, which only makes the lyrics that much more effective. Credit Bill Anderson and Jan Howard for being able to do so, without making it sound syrupy.
Long out of print, a little searching should turn up some used copies. The ones I found were generally under $10, though a couple were in the $20 range.
The obvious choice for Standout Track is “For Loving You”, while my Hidden Gem choice is “I Thank God For You”. Weakest Track, “I Love You Because”.
Overall, it’s a nice effort from two greats of the 1960’s and 1970’s. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t record more than they did, because, again, their sound, together, was on par with the other great duets of the era. One possible reason may well be that one of those greats, Conway and Loretta, also recorded on Decca, as well. I think this album is a good 3.5 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1968, Bill Anderson, Buck Owens, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Decca Records, For Loving You, Jan Howard, Johnny Cash, Lulu Belle And Scotty
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. Starting things off, this week, with a Classic Album Review that remembers a various artist collection from 1966, Columbia’s Welcome To Music City U. S. A. The album features fourteen tracks from most of Columbia’s roster of the day, including it’s superstars like Johnny Cash, Ray Price, and Marty Robbins. Now here’s the deal on this album; it’s billed as a live album, designed to make the consumer think it was an actual show featuring all of these acts, with veteran Carl Smith providing the hosting duties. Truth is, though, Columbia merely had Smith record the intros, then mixed them, along with audience sound effects, with studio recordings, trying to simulate a concert sound. This actually has not been all that unusual of a practice, especially in that era.
As for the hits, there are several, here, including a stereo re-record of Carl Smith’s “Let’s Live A Little”, along with Marty Robbins’ “Ribbon Of Darkness”, Carl & Pearl Butler’s “Loving Arms”, Claude King’s classic “Wolverton Mountain”, along the the Almost-hit “Slipping Around” from George Morgan and Marion Worth.
The additional recordings include Little Jimmy Dickens’ take on the Roy Acuff classic “Night Train To Memphis”, a version I’ve always thought is among the best of the stereo era. An exciting sound that is among Dickens’ best work.
Another great track that happens to be an Acuff classic, as well, is Flatt & Scruggs’ take on “Wabash Cannonball”. Simply put, I don’t think Lester and Earl ever did a bad track.
While those outside of the West Coast may not be familiar with the name Billy Mize, you’ve heard his work with the steel guitar on several records, particularly those of Merle Haggard. In addition, he’s been a popular TV host in Bakersfield, California, as well as enjoying some success as a singer and songwriter, including 2 Country 40 hits. Here, he sings a song he wrote, “Terrible Tangled Web”. A decent track, it is catchy, and Billy had a good voice that is somewhat reminiscent of Roger Miller or Jimmy Wakely.
There is a track from piano great, Del Wood. “(Down At) Papa Joe’s” is more Dixieland than Country, but it shows Wood at her best, which is playing that style of music.
The Stonewall Jackson track used, is a rather ordinary title, “Poor Red Georgia Dirt”. Despite the song being rather ordinary, no complaint about Stonewall’s performance. Simply one of Country’s great, underrated vocalists.
The Harden Trio’s take on George Jones’ hit “The Race Is On” is probably the weakest track on the album. The track doesn’t work for me, partially because whoever did the audience overdubs, didn’t do a great job, here, in their placement.
The Tommy Collins track used here, is a track titled “A Man Gotta Do What A Man Gotta Do”, is an alright track, nothing special, though.
The album wraps with a couple of extremely good tracks. First, Johnny Cash & The Carter Family’s take on “Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)”. Great song, to begin with, and their version is awesome. Then, the last track is Ray Price’s version of the Floyd Tillman song “This Cold War With You”. All I can say is it’s vintage Ray Price.
Long out of print, I did find a few used copies for sale. The mono albums seem to be less expensive, which I found surprising, ranging in the $9 to $15 price range, while the stereo versions were no less than $20.
For this album, I’ll pass on the usual Strongest/Weakest/Hidden Gem, since pretty much all of the tracks are good to great. Even the worst isn’t terrible.
Overall, this is a very good mix of hits and album cuts from a good mix of artists. From the musical selection, standpoint, credit must be given to whomever made those decisions. On the other hand, the attempt to make it sound like a live show doesn’t come off, that well. Based simply on the tracks, I’d go 4.5, but with the other effects added in, it drops to a 4 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1966, Billy Mize, Carl And Pearl Butler, Carl Smith, classic country, Claude King, Columbia Records, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Del Wood, Flatt And Scruggs, George Morgan, Johnny Cash, Let's Live A Little, Little Jimmy Dickens, Loving Arms, Marion Worth, Marty Robbins, Ray Price, Ribbon Of Darkness, Slipping Around, Stonewall Jackson, The Carter Family, The Harden Trio, Tommy Collins, Welcome To Music City USA, Wolverton Mountain