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November 2006 NewsletterYesterday & Today Records
255A Church St
phone/fax: (02) 96333585
Postage: 1 cd $2/ 2cds $3/ 3-4 cds $5.50
1 dvd $4.50 2-3 dvds $5.50. Registered & Express postage available on request.
The year end newsletter! This is shaping as one of the best newsletters ever. There are many new releases most of which will never be released in Australia and which will appeal to the true fan. The state of Nashville "country" has taken a turn for the worse this year. Most of it is pop caterwauling of the worst kind. Bad pop songs don't make country music....not now or ever. What we carry is almost like a parallel universe. We carry the good stuff and have done the leg work to ensure that what we carry will appeal to every level of country music fan. As is the case with our year end newsletter we would remind that we must reluctantly reduce our mailing list. Please read carefully. Should you have any queries then please do not hesitate to ask. Funny, I have had that old Barry Stanton song on my mind...."Beggin' on My Knees"...and I am. So much great music this time out!! PLEASE, even 1 cd!!!!1 cd!
There will be many contenders for album of the year in this newsletter. Here are a few from previous 2006 newsletters which will be in contention. The 2006 album of the year will be published in the first newsletter in 2007.
Potential 2006 Albums of the Year (in alphabetical order only.)
Doesn't include albums from this newsletter....there will be many from here.
2005 Album of the Year (Recap)
1) Claude Diamond - Highway of Life
We have collected a few deleted albums which are offered at fixed prices and are strictly on a first come first served basis. They must be reserved if sending cheque or money order. Please do not assume stock of any of these. I know how hard they have been to gather. All are deleted and in mint condition.
THE NEW STUFF
Jerry Lee Lewis - "Last Man Standing" $32 Limited edition deluxe package. This very impressive import only edition features a hard bound book style package with an impressive essay by Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick. The standard jewel box edition should be overlooked. It also features 21 duets with rock, country and pop legends all of which are graced with Jerry Lee's version of country music....even on the rocking tracks this comes through. The highlights are many, but personally his duet with Mick Jagger on "Evening Gown" is hard to beat. We all know Jagger has written some great country songs such as "Wild Horses" and "Dead Flowers" and you can make no mistake when saying "Evening Gown" is as good as any. It is so good that I have suggested to our two foremost female country vocalists (with the initials C.B. & F.U.) they should record the song from a female perspective but that brilliant suggestion fell on apparently deaf ears. Maybe they would change that if they heard the Killer's version. Although he has recently passed 70, Jerry Lee is as musically strong as ever from both a vocal and instrumental perspective, though the "Paul Hoganish" eyes suggest a little work may have been done along the way. Nobody ever gets the better of him, though one may suspect the engineers have tweaked the knobs a little so as Jerry's voice is a little further forward in the mix than his duet partners. Merle Haggard and Jerry work very well together on "Just Bummin' Around" and you know no duet album would be complete without an appearance from Willie who offers the perfect foil on the old Dr Hook song, "A Couple More Years". Keith Richards is his usual charismatic self on a Mack Vickery song, "That Kind of Fool", whilst years of doing bland standards seem to have taken the edge of Rod Stewart who is seriously outsung on "What Made Milwaukee Famous". Highlights are many and often will surprise. A Van Morrison song, "What Makes The Irish Heart Beat" is a lovely traditional styled ballad featuring Don Henley. Other partners include Bruce Springsteen ("Pink Cadillac"), John Fogerty ("Travellin' Band"), Neil Young ("You Don't Have to Go"), Jimmy Page (...a surprisingly country sounding "Rock & Roll") and Neil Young ("You Don't Have to Go"). Not to be missed. For anyone with a rock and roll meets country bent. And again we have the superior limited edition package.
Vince Gill - "These Days" 4cd set $58 This is something that has never been attempted before or likely to be attempted in the future; a major label country artist brings out a 4 cd set each with a different theme. Nicely packaged with 4 digipak cds plus a 66 page book inside an impressive slipcase. The 4 themed cds are:
Mark Chesnutt - "Heard it in a Love Song" $30 This is a strange package. It features 8 new songs plus 2 outtakes from earlier albums, one of which "Goodbye Comes Hard For Me" was on the "Red, Hot & Country". No musician credits are given but there are certainly no compromises to straight ahead country music. The title song was a hit for the Marshal Tucker Band. "A Shoulder to Cry On" is a classic Merle Haggard cry in your beer song. "Dreaming My Dreams" has been done many times but few versions would rival the impressive version presented by Mr Chesnutt. Best song though is "A Day in the Life of a Fool" from the pens of Mike Dekle & Byron Hill. Mike Dekle's own albums should be in everyone's collection. He is that good. Scan down to the bargain bins and you'll find 2 of them. Mark Chesnutt is one of the best vocalists in country music history and stays true to the traditions on this set. A few more Mike Dekle covers would have been nice but there aren't any complaints! Mark Chesnutt would have to rate as one of the all time great country vocalists.
Mel McDaniel - "The Best Of Mel McDaniel" cd/dvd $30 Mel McDaniel was one of the best vocalists of the 70s and beyond and still is in fine form. This set is all newly recorded and features an added dvd. If you don't have any Mel McDaniel cds this is an ideal package. Tracks are as follows:
Wayne "The Train" Hancock - "Tulsa" $32 I think this is the first time Wayne has been given his full title on an album cover even though he has never been given anything other than this full reference in this office! All songs are written by Wayne and his co-horts include his usual offsiders in Paul Skelton, Dave Biller and the fabulous Bob "Texaco" Stafford (country music's finest trombone player...come to think of it he may be the only) as well as touring members Eddie Biebel on lead guitar, Chris Darrell on slap bass and Eddie Rivers on steel guitar. The album cover is in the style of one of those old Route 66 postcards. Wayne informs us how he took his time recording this album...he took 2 1/2 days! In Nashville 2 1/2 months wouldn't see an album completed. The title cut swings like crazy. A slap bass is joined by trombone and then clarinet (John Doyle who seemingly plays guitar as well....wonder if it's Wylie's old band member) and a steel guitar joins in. It is remarkable how retro it sounds. "Drinkin' Blues" is about the temptations of alcohol....something Wayne knows all about. "Highway Bound" is a slow jazzy number. "Shootin' Star from Texas" is all about Wayne the Train's love for the music and lifestyle. "I Don't Care Anymore" has a "Walkin' the Floors" style intro and like many songs the theme is of a broken relationship, something it sadly seems Wayne knows a bit about as well. "Gonna Be Flyin' Tonight" is about a frantic drive to get home whilst avoiding Johnny Law on the way....that's Wayne-speak for the police. I love the way Wayne counts in the soloists! "No Sleep Blues" is a call and response ode to insomnia. Wayne "The Train" Hancock is a classic and the 14 tracks he has included here would satisfy even the most fastidious fan.
George Jones & Merle Haggard - "Kickin' Out the Footlights Again" $30. What a concept! Jones does 5 songs normally associated with Haggard ("The Way I Am"/ "All My Friends Are Strangers"/ "I Think I'll Just Stay Here & DrinK"/ "Sing Me Back Home"/"You Take Me for Granted"). Haggard returns the compliment by performing 5 songs normally associated with Jones ("The Race Is On"/ "She Thinks I Still Care"/ "Things Have Gone to Pieces"/ "I'll Always Get Lucky With You"/ "The Window Up Above"). In addition there are 4 duets : "Footlights"/ "Born With the Blues"/ "Sick Sober & Sorry"/"Don't Get Around Much Anymore", which seems quite appropriate! They first met at a radio station in Bakersfield in 1962 when Jones was already a star and Haggard was just starting out. They recorded one duet album, "Taste of Yesterday's Wine" in the early 80s which featured what was to become somewhat of a signature tune for George in "No Show Jones". But they both have well & truly turned up here. George may be a little bit less of a vocalist than he used to be but none of the charm or charisma has left him at all. If you don't get chills listening to this then have someone ring up the morgue!
George Jones & Friends - "God's Country" $35 cd+ DVD This is tops. The title track is performed by George and the other participants on the album whilst the participants then perform classic George Jones' songs. Vince Gill shines on "She Thinks I Still Cares", Mark Chesnutt is amazing on "Walk Through This World With Me" and to be honest Sammy Kershaw sounds more like George than George on "He Stopped Loving Her Today"; goose bumps are guaranteed. Pam Tillis and Tanya Tucker keep up the gal's side of things on "Take Me" and "Window Up Above" respectively. Joe Diffie and Shonna Faegan shine on a George & Tammy medley. The only out of place track is "Beer Run' which was on a Garth Brooks' album. It is the only track that wasn't recorded specifically for this project. The dvd includes insights from writers such as Bobby Braddock which add considerably to the project. Dvd goes for over 30 minutes.
Becky Hobbs - "Best of the Beckaroo Part One" $32 Features songs from her albums "All Keyed Up", "The Boots I Came to Town In", "From Oklahoma With Love", "Swedish Coffee" and "Hottest Ex in Texas". I might say all are worth having individually but then again most are deleted. "All Keyed Up" is one of the greatest ever country albums by a female and this includes the tracks "Jones on the Jukebox", "Are There Any More Like You", "Cowgirl's Heart", "She Broke Her Promise", Mama Was a Working Man" and "They Always Look Better When They're Leaving" from that great album. The 21 tracks on this cd represent great value.
Freddy Powers - "Country Jazz Singer Collector's Edition" $30
Chip Taylor - "This Side of the Big River" $20 Collector's Choice A reissue of the album that followed his "Chip Taylor's Last Chance" classic. Whilst that album was and always will be a classic I think this one actually stands up better given the passage of time and in many instances gets a better rating (All Music Guide for example). Chip has changed his style little over the years and his catchy songs are all worth hearing. "Same Ol' Story", "Big River" and "You're Alright Charlie" were recorded live and the anecdote Chip gives us in the notes is very funny. "Big River" is the only cover and met the approval of Johnny Cash who wrote a letter on Chip's behalf, but the glowing reference obviously didn't have much of an effect on Warner Brothers who promptly dropped him from the label after this album. Chip is laid back but writes wonderful melodies which get under your skin. "My God Be With Me" is unusual in that Chip turns the lead vocals over to guitarist, George Kiriakis, who we are informed is now a preacher. A nice little story song. "Chip Taylor's Last Chance" is now deleted but this is more than a fitting companion.
Pat Waters - "Right Where I Belong" $32 I think George Strait's "Beyond The Blue Neon" is as good an album as I've ever heard and similarly there is not one dud note on Alan Jackson's early albums, yet given the passage of time I think both men have become safe. For those who long for a return to those earlier days this album is for you. Waters is a bit of a musical chameleon who shows great style in recording what could be long lost Strait or Jackson albums. He even bears a strong resemblance to Strait on the cover. I think it is probably that the songs are all very well chosen and the backing is superb. Don't know many of them though Wanda Vic (used to be Vick) was in Wild Rose. "Is That Such a Foolish Thing" sees some great vocal nuances reminiscent of Strait or is it Jackson. Mind you neither have recorded as anything as good as "Texas Tears And Mexican Beer" in quite a long while. That is another thing that sets this album apart from the run of the mill and that is the excellence of the material. This in fact is as good as any major album and then some. Jamie Richards who is on the re-activated D label was responsible for 3 songs on the album. A definite Top 10 of the Year....with apologies to Mr Waters for comparisons with Strait or Jackson. He is independently good! I may even say currently superior to the other two!
Tracy Byrd - "Different Things" $30 Wow! After 30 seconds this had me hooked. Remember the days when Tracy Byrd was the boy out of Beaumont Texas with the extraordinary voice and great songs such as "Why"...well he is back. At least on most of this fine new album. The ballads on this album are as good as I've heard since his self titled debut. Most of the uptempo ones also aspire to those heights as well. "The Biggest Thing in Texas" is a Texas swing stomper of the highest order with great fiddle from the fabulous Aubrey Haynie and piano from Gary Prim (who is outstanding throughout). "Just One Woman" is a classic Conway styled ballad complete with spoken introduction. "Cheapest Motel" is a great tale of deceit and its subsequent punishment. "The cheapest motel cost him everything". Tracy draws that line out and the goosebumps rise. Fantastic! Who would have though Tracy Byrd would have made his best album in 2006? On a new label...Blind Mule Records.
Kinky Friedman - Last of the Jewish Cowboys:The Best of Kinky Friedman $32
Why the Hell Not..
Michael Martin Murphey - "The Cowboy Christmas Gift Set" cd/dvd $32 Includes "The Cowboy Christmas" dvd which is a terrific view. 27 songs and poems. Murphey is just great. He doesn't do all the usual everyday stuff and even manages to toss in a few of his hits such as the classic "Wildfire". The poem "What Does a Cowboy Have to Do With Christmas" leads nicely into "The Cowboy's Christmas Ball" which is a hoot. The dvd goes for around 2 hours. It is only loosely seasonally based so don't be thinking it is something you wouldn't play much. It includes with a great song which has wonderful imagery..."The Kill Pen". The cd component contains 13 traditional Christmas songs which compliment the songs on the dvd and most importantly do not duplicate any either. Fantastic package and again the dvd is just great and something that wouldn't be out of place being played year round.
Michael Martin Murphey - "Heartland Cowboy: Cowboy Songs Vol. 5" $32 Michael Martin Murphey first appeared as a Cowboy singer in the early 90s and has virtually pursued that role ever since and in the process has become America's "#1 Selling Cowboy Music Singer". His style is easy going and he can cover all aspects of that sub-genre from complicated story songs (which are totally engrossing) to sing-a-long ditties and message songs. All songs are originals bar a cover of Springsteen's "Dry Lightning".
Billy Mata - "Domino Effect" $30 The album's title is derived from one of the songs on the album but also because Billy is aided and abetted by the great Texas piano pounder Floyd Domino. Billy comes from San Antonio area and has a great style which encompasses elements of western swing, honky tonk and Texas shuffles. Like some of the finest artists he is generally not a writer himself (A co-write on the title track is his only contribution here) but has a consummate ability to pick the best material. My good pal, The Cosmic Cowboy, would hardly let a week go by without playing "If This Was Texas" and I for one would not complain one bit. This has an insanely compelling hook and a nifty change of pace which is impossible to forget. The re-recording of this classic features some nice Tex Mex touches and it is better than ever. He does nice versions of a couple of Bob Wills tunes, the rather obscure "I Laugh When I Think How I Cried Over You" and the well-known "Across the Alley from the Alamo". Billy has a fine voice which is fairly distinct. He also covers Wynn Stewart but most of the songs are from little known Texas writers but what fine songs they are. John Lambert's contributions "Private Party" and "Texas Homesick Blues" are especially memorable. Steel guitar man, Roger Edgington and fiddler Richard Helsey along with Floyd Domino are just some of the fine musicians featured on a great album and destined to be riding high on the Swedish Cowboy's famed best of lists.
Porter Wagoner - "The Rubber Room" $28 A new label (Omni) dedicated to releasing great music which is not in print. All fully licensed from the record companies and with a 16 page booklet to boot. The title song is one of the quirkiest in country music history and the cover (derived from the "Carroll County Accident" lp is the best in country music history). It is probably only necessary to list the tracks. Nothing else could add to it. As the notes say "dark, heartfelt country" and the finished product was given the seal of approval by none other than Porter hisself (which is southern talk for himself if you didn't know!)
Jimmy Driftwood - Voice of the People" $28 Another Omni release and the first single cd of Jimmy Driftwood, who was quite a productive artist back in his time. He even made a latter in life appearance on Michelle Shocked's album "Arkansas Traveller". His two most famous songs are on this cd notably "Battle of New Orleans" and the equally oft-covered "Tennessee Stud". This compiles tracks from 2 original albums, which are "Voice of the People", "Down in the Arkansas" and "The Best of Jimmy Driftwood". 28 tracks of downhome philosophy and tall tales and true from the legendary past (seem to have heard those lines before). His tales do not always paint a pretty picture!
Bobby Bare: "A Bird Named Yesterday/Talk Me Some Sense" $28 Can it get any better? Bobby Bare's excellent concept album, of which we had a few last year (and which went in a squirrel's blink). Now deleted in all forms this would be a great surprise in itself but what is even better is that it gathers some rare Bare 45s which have never been on cd before. The "Bird Named Yesterday" was a concept of Cowboy Jack Clement who also wrote 6 of the nine songs that were on the original album. Each song represents aspects of a small town which has been affected by the progress of time. Each of the tracks was accompanied by a brief narration by Bobby Bare which pads out the number of tracks on this cd to 36! Titles such as "They Covered Up the Old Swimmin' Hole" and "The Day the Saw Mill Closed Down" will give an idea of the nostalgic element of the album. " Talk Me Some Sense" is a 1966 Bare album which is on cd for the first time. Thematically some of this is similarly themed to "A Bird Named Yesterday" especially songs such as "You Can't Stop the Wind from Blowing" and "Heaven Help My Soul". A little bit more about Bare later on in the newsletter but this is superb. Again from the original tapes and with a 16 page booklet!
John D Loudermilk - "The Open Mind of John D Loudermilk" $28 John D., cousin of the Louvin Brothers (their real name is Loudermilk) was a songwriter first and a singer second. He was able to write incredibly catchy songs and many such as "Sad Movies", "Ebony Eyes", "Abilene", "Norman", "Waterloo" etc were huge hits for other artists. He hit big in Australia with the top 10 "Calling Dr Casey". However there was a more meaningful side to his songwriting and I guess it wouldn't be unfair to say he wrote the pop stuff so as he could pay the bills and wrote the type of songs featured on this album to justify his pop output. Mind you, "Tobacco Road" (a hit for the Nashville Teens) and "The Lament of the Cherokee Indian" (a hit for Don Farden) certainly didn't hurt his pocket book at all. The 27 tracks on this album include the wonderfully bitter "To Hell With Love", "War Babies", "No playing in the Snow Today", "Talkin' Silver Cloud Blues" etc. The original subtitle of the album from which this cd was compiled was "Sings a Bizarre Collection of His Most Unusual Songs" and a section of it was included on a Bear Family cd called "It's My Time". If you want the pop side of John D Loudermilk I'd recommend the Bear Family cd "The Blue Train". This cd on Omni represents that other side.
Butch Hancock - "War & Peace" $32. First solo album in a long time from the man who is a third of the Flatlanders and has preferred to have been part of their resurgence at the expense of his solo career during that period. His solo albums have him sounding like a Texas Bob Dylan and such is the case again. As could be expected a lot of the material has a political bent to it. "That Great Election Day", "Cast the Devils Out", "When the Good And Bad Get Ugly" and "The Devil In Us All" will give you a hint as to what he is on about. Butch has written probably one semi well-known song in his life, "West Texas Waltz", and few if any of are likely to join that relative obscurity but you never can tell!
Jackson Taylor Band - The Whiskey Sessions $32 This guy must rate as the most productive artist in recent memory. This is his new studio album and follows on his recent live album. As always he is not for sissies with a style that reminds of the likes of Hank Jnr. and Waylon Jennings. Trust me he is much better at his craft than Shooter Jennings. Maybe Jackson is a little too politically incorrect or maybe conveniently aims to be so and sets that at his defining style and I have reservations about the title song plus the opener "No Apologies". It is okay for the likes of Coe but Jackson is better when he plays down the line. His songs such as "Joy & Pain" are better than those where he tries to rely on his outlaw persona (totally that is). He does a fine interpretation of Hag's "Are the Good Times Really Over" but apart from a Mike Ness song ("Highway 101") the rest are the work of Jackson Taylor. So apart from the two reservations and a subtle reworking of the lyrics would change that, I have nothing but praise for Jackson Taylor and his rocking good honky tonk songs.
Joey Allcorn - "50 Years Too Late" $30 The track "This Ain't Montgomery" is attracting a lot of attention as it features Joey singing with Hank III about something that Hank III would probably like but deep down would know just wouldn't be possible and that is to avoid living in Hank Williams' shadow. Joey starts by lamenting how he was born too late and takes us on a trip through most country styles concluding with a very Ferlin Husky styled weepie called "The Execution" which is great but would have been even better without the "scratched record feel". "Alabama Chain Gang" is a prison song...something we certainly don't get many of nowadays. "In Nashville Tennessee" is the Robbie Fulks' style putdown of the style of music that gets called "country" but of course isn't in the slightest. A couple of songs are a little out of place in that they are in a grungy style. Seemingly like Hank III Joey also performs two sets; he would have been advised to represent that "other" side on a separate cd, but 11 out of 13 tracks of country brilliance isn't a bad proportion. Musicians include former BR549 multi-instrumentalist Donnie Herron and Andy Gibson of Hank III's band on steel guitar.
Moe Bandy - "Legendary Country: Moe Bandy - The Legend Continues" $32 First new album of new material in quite a while from the man who recorded near 20 major label albums during the 70s to the early 90s. This is on the independent Sweet Song label.
Vernon Oxford - "Sings Gospel, Country & Bluegrass' $32 Believe it or nor one of the most popular Bear Family boxes we have ever had is the Vernon Oxford box( 5cds + book $180). And it is not surprising as he recorded so much great music and even when most country music was in fact "country" the description used for Vernon was "too country for country". This mix of religious and secular material shows that there is still a place for Vernon. If you were to play this following the Bear Family box it would almost be a seamless transition. Tracks are as follows:
Garth Brooks - "The Entertainer" dvd set Limited edition collector's tin 5 dvds. $70 Not on retail sale outside USA this is the first full concert dvd set of Garth and has more than 7 hours of live performances plus 15 music videos including 3 never seen before. Well I certainly won't spoil my record on those 3 but for Garth fans this is the "magnum opus" so to speak. It is ALL REGIONS so no worries about it playing. The concerts featured are as follows:
Bradley Walker - "Highway of Dreams" $30 Rounder This is a very very fine album and will be figuring in the year end best of lists. Guaranteed. Bradley has been performing for several years though he holds down a full time job as well. Unfortunately he has been afflicted throughout his life with muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheel chair. I mention this with total admiration as far as his career goes but only in passing as far as this album goes as, let's face it, if he couldn't cut the mustard as a singer it would be irrelevant. But cut it he does and in fact has an amazing voice which reminds in places of the late Keith Whitley, who also came from a bluegrass background with a voice that wasn't really one of the "high lonesome" voices we normally associate with bluegrass. This album is exquisitely produced by Carl Jackson who has a long association with Emmylou Harris and the likes of John Starling. Backing is first class with Aubrey Haynie on fiddle, Adam Steffey on mandolin and Randy Kohrs & Rob Ickes on dobro being the standouts. "When I'm Hurtin' " is a top country song that would fit comfortably on a George Jones album. "Love's Tombstone" is a superb drinking song, the young man knows what tradition is all about!! Backing vocals throughout are provided by Alecia Nugent and it was her last album, "A Little Girl, A Big Four Lane" (also produced by Carl Jackson) where I first saw the name Bradley Walker on the classic duet "When It Comes Down To Us (It's All Up To You". There are a few other guest vocalists including Vince Gill, Rhonda Vincent and Sonya Isaacs. "Price of Admission" is spooky in its resemblance to Keith Whitley. It is almost a shame that he does "I Never Go Around Mirrors" as the other songs are so good without being overly familiar. Fabulous album; absolutely everything about it is first class and then some.
Brian Burns - Border Radio $32. This self produced album may be Burns' best yet. It has a very healthy 17 tracks and for the first time he plays all the instruments, well all bar steel guitar that is. This is in transit. It is with albums such as this that you wish the artist would promote the thing through some channels that are at least reasonably accessible. But this Tex-Mex honky tonk styled album, possibly his best album yet (a big call as he has some pretty impressive albums). And I must also say the album cover is one of the most attractive we have seen.
Frank James - "All Over Again" $30 Great backing from the extremely underrated Herbert "Hoot" Hester on fiddle, Pete Wade on guitar and Hargus "Pig" Robbins on piano. He encompasses a few styles from cowboy story songs (A la Marty Robbins) through Haggard style ballads to semi rockabilly numbers. 11 tracks in all. You can't help love "(Big Brother Bill's) Rusty Old ‘49 Ford.
Cornell Hurd Band - Saturday Nite in San Jose:The Rock & Roll Years $32 The great man moved to Texas from San Francisco area and this collection is from that period. 23 tracks...and I wonder if that is the "miserable ex-wife" on the label? Actually she doesn't look that miserable at all. Encompasses a few styles including blues and rock and even some country similar in style to what they do now. Maybe only for completists but is pretty good even if a little different to what he does now, in places at least.
Jo's House Band - "Sinner's Brunch" $30 Strange venue...actually a little road house, looking a little like Harry's Cafe De Wheels (without the wheels). "West Texas Sweetheart" swings a little and lead vocalist Tina Rosenzweig has a strong voice and the two tracks she has written are just fine. She also covers a couple of Haggard songs. Instrumentally it is all acoustic but it rocks as much as it can and certainly enhances the reputation of Austin as a live music venue. The presence of Dale Watson as producer may have contributed a little to this.
The Tennessee Rounder - "Here We Go" $30 They've added "Tennessee" to their name but they still romp in a style that could probably be best likened to that of the likes Dale Watson. They also remind a little of the lamented Sydney group, The Whiteliners. They are also responsible for all 16 songs on the album and many have that "heard it before" quality. Lead vocalist Channing Wilson is terrific with a passing resemblance to the aforementioned Dale Watson. "Centerline" is a great trucking ballad. "I Can't Recall Lovin' You" is a little Buck Owens style lament about lost love. The seemingly well-named Bass Ape is very solid on doghouse bass and to be honest their sound for a mere 4 piece is solid as it comes. There are a couple of drinking songs and lonely-on- the road songs. Top class all the way.
J B Beverley & the Wayward Drifters - "Dark Bar & A Jukebox" $30 This must be the decade of the new Hanks...though 90s artists such as Marty Brown did it very well also. J.B. fits in nicely with the Wayne Hancocks, Hank IIIs of the world and some of the personnel on this are also on the Joey Allcorn album. Interesting that Ronnie McCoury adds a semi bluegrass touch to a couple of tracks but they are all steeped firmly in the traditions of honky tonk music...no compromise. "Going to the Show" would indicate they were a live act to be reckoned with. Lots of variety with a couple of great George Jones styled cry in your beer ballads coupled with some wild tales of bank robbers!
Darrryl Worley - "Here & Now" $32 Brand new 2006 release will be in when you get this. Track listing is as follows:
John Conlee - "Country Heart" $32 John Conlee had a very successful career on then MCA label and then had some great albums on CBS before releasing what was to be his last major label album, "Fellow Travellers" on the 16th Avenue label which was distributed by Capitol. However 16th Avenue didn't last long and that was about it for Conlee. This features 6 tracks that were on that "Fellow Travellers" including the title track and "Hopelessly Yours", a Keith Whitley co-write. The ten new tracks include "Black Label, White Lies" which was covered by Confederate Railroad on their top-rating self titled album, the Guy Clark story song, "Indian Head Penny" and Bob McDill's "I'm Not That Good at Goodbye" and one which was a semi-hit for co-writer Jeff Knight in "I Can't Stand to Watch an Old Flame Burn". Production by Bud Logan is first class and the material is very refreshing. 16 tracks in all.
Rick Sousley - "Twang" $32 Rick's only other album featured what was one of the best cd tracks we have ever heard. That was the great "Patsy Proof", a song which induced goose bumps. The rest of the album was very fine but the songs were shaded by "Patsy Proof". Good news is that overall his second album is much stronger than the first. A strong honky tonk bent. Fine rich voice and country through and through. Tracks: Beer Thirty/ She Taught Me How to Love/ Mile a Minute/ Looking Out My Back Door/ Single Man/ Show Us Your Twang/ Buster/ Rowdy 324/ If You Could See You Through My Eyes/ Leave My Name Out of This/ Stoned at the Jukebox/ If I Hadn't Said I Love.
Eugene Chrysler - "Hillbilly Shakespeare" $30 Second album from the somewhat quirky Eugene. It starts with a rivetting version of the truckdriving classic, Robert Mitchum's "Thunder Road". The core group of Eugene on dog house bass, Alan Sheinfeld, Tom Smith on drums and Ed Larusso on pedal steel is nicely augmented by Asleep at the Wheel threesome, Ray Benson (a great duet on "Get Hip"), Cindy Cashdollar, and fiddler Jason Roberts. Honorary "Wheel" man Floyd Domino on piano and Derailer Brian Hofeldt on harmony vocals. Many of the songs have an appealing rockabilly feel and most are written by Eugene. Special mention should be made of the great honkytonker, "Drinking My Dinner" and his trucking track, "I Don't Drive a Truck (But I Spend All My Time in a Truckstop). Special mention should also be made of the terrific artwork by "Derek". Good humour and good songs. Go Eugene!
Derailers - "Retrospective" $32 17 tracks compiled from their first 6 albums all bar 3 being group compositions. The exceptions are Harlan Howard's "I'll Catch You When I Fall" , Wynn Stewart's "Wishful Thinkin'" and Phil Spector's "Then She Kissed Me" which works very well. There is their trademark Buck Owens styled brand of Texas honky tonk. Fine value if you don't have any.
Doug Moreland - "Doug Moreland" $30 Texas beer hall music for the masses. This art form is widely neglected but few do it as well as Doug Moreland. Will fit in nicely with fans of Cornell Hurd & Dale Watson. Tracks: A Boy Like Me/ Never Gonna Go Back Home/ Honeymoonlight/ Dallas/ Forever in Your Arms/ Home to Me/ Not Afraid to Fall / Houston/ Heaven or Austin/ The Beer Song (not the old Tom Pacheco one but bound to please)/ End of the Trail
The Horton Brothers - "Tempo For Two" $30 They sing in a fifties brothers group style with a rockabilly feel mainly due to some excellent slap bass work. Include a Wilburn Brothers cover and a Johnny Horton cover (despite the name they don't owe much allegiance to Johnny). Tracks: Hey Little Momma/ My Own Two Eyes/ North to Dallas/ I Ain't Got Time for Love/ More Than I Cn Say/ Locked Out of Love Again/ I Had One Too Many/ She Tells Me With Her Eyes/ Shadows of the Old Bayou/ Yesterday's Blues/ Just Who.
June Carter - "Early June" with the Carter Sisters, Mother Maybelle and Chet Atkins. $30 June always said she wasn't the singer..."Helen and Anita are the singers, I'm just a comedienne". Despite that June could really belt out a tune, and often her lack of vocal subtlety works well especially on songs such as "Jukebox Blues" and on the duet with then husband Carl Smith "Love Oh Crazy Love" but also has the personality to do something like Carson Robison's "Life Gets Tedious" or the cowboy classic "Dude Cowboy". 32 songs plus a couple of radio advertisements make it good value. These are from radio transcriptions and the sound is very good.
dvd Bloodied But Unbowed: Bloodshot Records: Life in the Trenches $35
dvdKenny Rogers - The Journey $28 23 tracks plus extensive interview. Around 95 minutes.
dvdBrian Setzer Orchestra - Christmas Extravganza $35 25 tracks,
dvdBrad Paisley - The Video Collection $28 11 tracks including the great duet with Alison Krauss on "Whiskey Lullbaby".
dvd Happy Rovin' Cowboy:Singing Cowboys & Western Stars" $35 Around 80 minutes and has 28 songs from likes of Rex Allen, Sons of Pioneers. Pee Wee King, Tex Williams etc
dvdJohnny Cash - Live in Ireland $28 16 tracks include Carter Family, Kris Kristofefrson etc.
dvd Bluegrass Country Soul $35 No swine here! All great stuff. This dvd has the highlights from a 3 day festival from Camp Springs, North Carolina in 1971. Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain boys featured teenagers Ricky Skaggs on mandolin and Keith Whitley on guitar. For the international bluegrass fans Bluegrass 45 was the first Japanese bluegrass group to tour America. Most of the legends are here including Earl Scruggs who leads a group of banjo players through a stage jam as well as performing with his Earl Scruggs review. There's also the Osborne Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Mac Wiseman, J D Crowe, Del McCoury and more. Roy Acuff makes a guest appearance but would probably rather forget his famous bow-juggling routine as he is captured stuffing it up completely. Oh well, nothing like warts & all especially when the warts are as good as this.
dvd Marty Robbins - "Music Anthology" $35 24 performances from one of the greatest featuring Marty in a full group setting and solo. Of the latter it is great that he performs one of the best ever western story songs in "Mr Shorty". He never misses a beat as he relates the intricate story of the man who is always picked on by bullies because of his short stature and invariably leaves the bully lying dead on the floor. What a great song. Cowboy songs, pop songs, gospel, rockabilly.... Marty had it all and then some. The collection covers a 30 year time span.
Dillards - "Pickin' & fiddlin'/ Back Porch Bluegrass" $25 Two original albums featuring 31 tracks from the original Dillards with Rodney on lead vocals and guitar and Doug Dillard on banjo
Cousin Harley - "Hillbilly Madness" $32
Dierks Bentley - "Long Trip Alone" $32 One gets the impression that if the constraints of major label conformist pressure were relaxed Dierks would be an even better artist but as it is he is about as good as the major labels get. Certainly he refers to artists such as Haggard with a reverence which suggests he'd sing the Merle Haggard songbook in a blink. The Grascals help out on one track, "Prodigal Son's Prayer". He wrote or co-wrote all tracks.
Jason Boland & the Stragglers - "The Bourbon Legend" $32 It is so good when an artist thumbs his nose at political correctness and lets fly with witty songs which defy the moderations that most mainstream country seems to demand. Tracks wil lgive you a good idea of what it's about. Last Country Song/ The Bourbon Legend/ No One left to Blame/ Jesus & Ruger/ Up & Gone/ Baby That's Just Me/ Can't tell If I Drink/ Lonely By Choice/ Rattlesnake/ Time in Hell/ Everyday Life.
Hillbilly Hot Rod & Automobile Songs $32 (Jasmine UK) Pretty self explanatory title and a healthy 24 tracks. There are certainly some interesting tracks. George Wilson's "Hot Rod Race" evolved into "Hot Rod Lincoln" and the more politically correct version (compared to the originally incorrect version by Arkie Shipley that is) featured here is that of Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith. Paul Tutmark features his wife Bonnie Tutmark on vocals on "Midget Auto Blues". If you think she sounds familiar (and she does) it is because she later recorded in her own right as Bonnie Guitar. Lots of good take off guitar throughout and some hot steel licks. Grandpappy Earl Davis starts like an Andy Griffith narration and then then takes off on "Grandpappy's Hot Rode Blues". Lots of lesser known artists (daren't call them obscure) and lots of humour. "Flying Low" has some "Transfusion" (Nervous Norvus) style sound effects.
Van Morrison - Pay the Devil Limited Edition cd+ dvd $35 This has been going well. Apart from Van's excellent country album....Van's "Almost Blue" if you like you get a selection of live performances recorded at the Ryman auditorium which makes it even better. Naturally it is only available on the import version.
Prairie Home Companion Soundtrack Limited edition cd/dvd $35 See the movie it is very good. But given the time constraints most of the full songs are not seen nor heard in the movie. The dvd collects 10 full songs and sketches from the movies of which the highlights are certainly Woody Harrelson's ribald "I Used to Work in Chicago", and a great instrumental featuring the show band under the auspices of Rick Dworski on piano and a wonderful bit of Minnesotan humour from Garrison Keillor.
Statler Brothers - Amen $32 Some more gospel from the boys. Covers a few styles though the hand-clapping full on style with plenty of bass from brother Harold Reid (not my brother Harold, dummy but everybody's brother!) is great on tracks such as "He's Getting Me Ready" and "A Place on Calvary". Not the usual fare either. The passionate "Jesus Living Next to Me": is another stand out.
dvdReba McEntire - Video Gold Vol 1 $30
dvdWaylon Jennings - "Nashville Rebel" $30 This is not the movie of the same name (available on dvd from Bear Family) but a long collection of Waylon's video clips from a variety of sources. "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line" is from a Johnny Cash tv show circa 1970 and includes some banter between the two gents. 5 tracks were recorded by Jack Clement during the recording of the classic "Dreaming My Dreams" album and includes a solo bit of Waylon serenading Jesse whilst playing an acoustic guitar. Must admit his leather-faced electric seemed to have been almost permanently in his hands. 5 more tracks are from an Opryland performance in 1978. We also get his duet with Hank Jnr, "The Conversation". Also included are two rare television commercials. 20 tracks in all. It serves as a companion to the "Nashville Rebel" box set which is 4 cds in a beautifully packaged box with around 80 tracks and a superb 100 page book. The standard of this is grand. A lot of people would have the majority of Waylon's recordings but even for them the dvd must be a must.
Shadric Smith And the Billy Buffalo Bandu $30 All you bible students out there, wasn't Shadric the name of someone in one of the testaments? Anyway this Shadric is pretty good in a rustic Arkie Blue kind of way, though the style varies throughout.The album was recorded in 1978 and features Vassar Clements on fiddle. Good stuff. Tracks: Yankee Cowboy / The Moon Is My Companion / Ride The Texas Wind / The Nitehawks / Diamonds Don't Mean A Thing / Holliday's Club Cafe / Riverboat Sail Downstream / I Can't Stop My Feet From Dancin' / Redbird / Hello Nel... / I Can't Help Myself / Country Boy / It's Late / Tearin' My Way Home
Nanci Griffith - "Ruby's Torch" $32 album features new songs by Nanci as well as covers from artists such as Willie Nelson and Tom Waits. Full track listing is as follows:
dvdDillards - "A Night in the Ozarks" $35 17 performances coupled with a documentary featuring a John McEuen produced documentary. This features the original group Rodney Dillard on guitar, Doug Dillard on banjo, Dean Webb on mandolin and Mitch Jayne on bass with Dillard senior, Homer Dillard guesting on fiddle.
Steve Holy - "Brand New Girlfriend" $30 Long time between drinks. The title track is very catchy. His debut album may go down as the only album ever produced by Wilbur Rimes (apart from his daughter LeeAnn that is). Had to admit the lineup had a bit of a wow factor to it as he has not employed the usual Nashville pickers. Curt Ryle, the great indie artist, plays acoustic guitar throughout and Wanda Vick (this time with a "k") is dandy on fiddle. Steve is able to seemingly circumvent the overtly pop Nashville sound as well and has a great personality which comes out in his songs, especially the title song which is a great romp. A pleasant surprise.
dvdAsleep at the Wheel - Live austin City Limits $35
Bear Family News
These are the November releases and will be in when you receive this. As always we are able to state that Bear Family stand alone as the best reissue label in the world both in terms of packaging and quality. They are not cheap but are literally the Rolls Royce of the cd world.
Maddox Brothers & Rose - Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight - Ugly & Slouchy $32 Rose Maddox went on to have a great solo career on Capitol Records but the Columbia output which is featured here represents some of the most joyous music ever made. There were many elements that made them a vital link between hillbilly music and rockabilly. Fred Maddox was a heck of a slap bass man, so good in fact that Bill Black acknowledged him as the best. When coupled with brother Cal on rhythm guitar they cooked. Cal also had a manic laugh which was in fact mimicked by the Surfaris on their surf hit "Wipeout". Mandolin player, Henry was referred to as the "working girl's friend" and Merle Haggard has made reference to this on a couple of his albums. Roy Nichols, Hag's long time lead guitarist goth is start with the Maddox Brothers & Rose. Fiddler Don is the only surviving brother. This 30 track cd features vocals from all 4 brothers and sister Rose of course. The tracks have a great humour about them without ever threatening to be token novelties, though "Death of Rock & Roll",which is the wildest hillbilly song of all time, is a less than subtle reworking of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman". "Ugly & Slouchy" with its manic slap bass is featured on many rockabilly compilations and in it the singer expresses his love for the down home stay at home qualities of ugly & slouchy women. Who said they had to be politically correct! "Paul Bunyan Love" finds the singer expressing his love for his gal in terms of the biggest hero in American folk lore. This series ("Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight") features the best rockin' tracks of artists who were never quite rock and roll but sure enough did enough to be considered pretty close to it!
Faron Young - "Gonna Shake This Shcak Tonight - Hi-Tone Poppa" $32 Includes such uptempo songs as "Live Fast Love Hard & Die Young", "I've Got Five Dollars & It's Saturday Night", "Alone With You" etc. It also includes some pre-Capitol tracks such as the title track and "Hot Rod Shotgun Boogie". 32 tracks from an artist who had a distinctive hard edge...no "Four in the Morning" here!
GeneSimmons - "Drinkin' Wine: The Sun Years Plus" $32 Although remembered as a one hit wonder with "Haunted House" Gene had been one of the rockabilly artists on Sun Records. Whilst his Sun recordings have appeared on many compilations over the years this is the first time they have all been assembled in one place. The album has 25 tracks of Sun material plus 3 he recorded for the Hi label. The oft-covered title track, along with the flip "I Done Told You" was the only single actually release by Sun during his tenure with them. The name would be familiar to many but certainly not these prime rockabilly recordings.
Johnny Paycheck (aka Donny Young) - Shaking the Blues $32 This 29 track compilation features early recordings from the Decca, Mercury & Todd labels. Born Donald Lytle he adopted the name Donny Young when he came to Nashville where he first gained work as a back-up singer with Ferlin Husky. Some of the Decca tracks were produced by the great Owen Bradley and included a few rockabilly offerings such as "Shakin' the Blues". The Mercury tracks included George Jones' band backing him. He was also a touring member of the Jones' boys playing bass guitar. It was here he began the style which was featured on the wonderful Little Darlin' recordings and was said to be a major influence for the style that George Jones would adapt. The 29 tracks include a healthy number of country standards such as "Accidentally on Purpose", his boss' great "Window Up Above" and "Above and Beyond". There are also some great honky tonkers as well as 5 numbers seeing the light of day for the first time.
Roger Miller - A Man Like Me" $32 The previous Bear Family cd "King of the Road" was unusual in that it only featured around 8 or so of his Smash/Mercury recordings but concentrated mainly on his superb RCA recordings which among their number included his original version of "Hitch Hiker", which was covered virtually note for note by Bobby & Laurie and became their biggest ever hit. This album even pre-dates his RCA recordings. It consists of 15 Starday tracks and 2 Decca Tracks. "A Man Like Me" and "The Wrong Kind Of Girl" were early Roger Miller written songs whilst he also did some covers. He supported himself by playing fiddle with Minnie Pearl and drums with Ray price as well as holding down a job as bell boy at a Nashville Hotel. First time on cd for these tracks.
One More Record Please $35 Deluxe digipak presentation. Every track on this relates to the playing of records in various way shapes and forms. Most of the tracks are exceedingly rare and I am particularly excited that it will have a Tommy Collins track, "Ernest Tubb 78s". Tommy attempts to imitate Ernest's famed drawl on this but what he does sounds uncannily like Junior Brown. There is also Charlie Monroe's "It's Only a Phonograph Record", Billy Walker's "The Record", Wilma lee & Stoney Cooper's "Don't Play That Song on the Jukebox Tonight", Carson Robison's "Making A Record Parts 1 & 2" plus a bunch of artists of less notoriety. Have to be careful. I used the word "obscure" in my description of Eddie Cletro who had an album released in the last lot of Bear releases and I received a somewhat unusual email from someone I didn't know, informing me they wouldn't be getting that cd from me as I had insulted Eddie. Now, I ask you, if 2 or 3 people at most in the entire country have heard of an artist doesn't that make him "obscure". It seems not. However if I was able to use the "o" word I'd extend it to Charles Senns ("Dig Me a Crazy Records"), Carol Jarvis ("Dee Jay With a Broken Heart") and Joyce Moore ("Don't Play Number Ten On the Jukebox tonight"). Quite a few do a radio show. Could there possibly be anything better??
Jack Scott - " Jack Rocks" $35 Canadian Jack Scott recorded for a number of labels and this covers the lot with the 26 tracks being selected from recordings on ABC-Paramount, Carlton, Top Rank, Capitol, RCA & Groove. They are all here: "Leroy", "Go Wild Little Sadie", "The Way I Walk", "Baby She's Gone" etc. Deluxe digipak with notes by Deke Dickerson and others.
Mac Wiseman - "On Susan's Floor" 4 cd + hard cover $180 Covers the years 1965-1979 and features recordings from the labels Dot, Rural Rhythm, MGM, RCA and his own Wise Records. 114 in all and over 5 hours. The first Mac Wiseman box set on Bear Family was very well received and this one is going to be similarly received.
Gene Vincent - "The Ballads" digipak $35 As a compliment to the "Rocks" series we have the first in the "Ballads" series. Gene Vincent was mainly known as a rocker and hence this could be conceived to cover the "other side" of Gene. Similar packaging to the "Rocks" series featuring new notes & expanded booklet.
Early 2007 releases
* Jack Scott - The Ballads of Jack Scott $35 deluxe digipak.
* Wanda Jackson - The Ballads of Wanda Jackson $35 deluxe digipak presentation. Single cds of Wanda's rocking side are pretty easy to come by. This will be the first I can recall being dedicated to her "other" side.
* Bill Monroe - My Last Days on Earth 1981-1994 4cd + hard cover book. $180 During the 80s Bill Monroe made two very memorable albums. In one he recorded with fellow members of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame whilst the one I remember best was "Bill Monroe & Friends" which saw him recording with country stars. What made this so special was the ultra cheesy intros that each gave and to which Bill responded. "It's the thrill of my life to be here"......"It's been the thrill of my life to have you here"....."Mr Monroe, words just can't describe what it is like to be part of this project"....."You're my dad's favourite singer"...."I'd like to take you out behind the woodshed and spank you". (maybe that was one of the deleted outtakes).
*The Very Strange Story of Dean Reed The Red Elvis" $32 Now I was going to use that dreaded "O" word again but won't for fear of reprisal. Will just call him someone most people have ever heard of.
*Various: The Mercury New Orleans Sessions 1950 & 1953 2cds $60
*Johnny Bond - "Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight: Put me to Bed" $32 His "bordering on rock & roll" recordings .
* Various: Bonanza $35 deluxe cd digipak. Not sure if this is going to be a compilation of western themes or a truncated version of the Bonanza box set. If interested in either please let me know & I will advise you when the track listing becomes available.
* Rod McKuen - If You Go Away: The RCA Years 1965-1970 7cds + hard cover book $300
US Future Releases (These may or may not be out by the time the first 2007 newsletter is out but can be pre-ordered).
Miss Leslie & the Jukejointers - "Live". $32 Live albums are a somewhat tenuous item. They can be nothing more than an excuse for some crowd yahooing to supplement less than adequate live presentations of previous hits. NOT SO MISS LESLIE. Thanks to Texas Rich I was able to see a taped live performance of Miss Leslie and I can confirm they are even better live than they are on album. Check our list of 2005 Albums of the Year to see the high standing we gave her previous effort. The live cd will have 18 tracks and if true to form will give other band members a chance to perform. This will be 2006.
Early 2007 major label releases
*Tim McGraw - "Train #10"
Collector's Choice Cds
One of the best reissue labels in the USA is the Chicago based Collectors' Choice label. They do a superb remastering job and have brought many obscure albums back into print. This is a cross-section of what they have in stock.
Some of latest releases (Quantities may be limited)
Alabama - Songs of Inspiration $18
BARGAIN BIN CDS ($18 unless noted)
Acuff, Roy - The Good News According to Mr Roy Acuff (fine 18
Special Non Country item
Phil Spector Box Set - Back to mono 4cds + 12x 12 book. All the Classics from "To Know Him Is to Love Him" through the Crystals, Ronettes etc, up to Checkmates Limited with "Love Is All I Have to Give". Also includes the Phil Spector Christmas album. Only $60 the box
That's all folks. No more room. But don't hesitate to ask if looking for anything. These newsletters do not represent everything we have. There is a lot more in store.