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series of gritty top ten hits, the best being Hillbilly Girl With The Blues, Takin’ It Easy, Everybody Makes Mistakes and the superb 16th Avenue. By the late 1980s Lacy J’s music fell out of favour and she moved across from Columbia to the short-lived Universal which was absorbed into Capitol Nashville. This pair of albums were released on Capitol 1989/90 and though they didn’t produce any major hits—The Heart was the most successful single, hitting the top 20—you do have some great songs and typically distinctive soulful vocal delivery, full of texture and grit. When you sit to listen to a Lacy J Dalton

album, you find yourself pulled in by the very power and heart of this vocalist, because she’s not merely performing a set of songs, she’s bringing each and every tune to life. It’s as if they were all written especially for her. This is very true of Where Did We Go Right? a Dave Loggins and Don Schlitz song previously recorded by Russell Smith and Guy Clark’s Old Friends. There’s also a fine revival of Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years, a duet with Glen Campbell of Shaky Ground and the line dance favourite Black Coffee. Alan Cackett

Louise Mandrell LOUISE MANDRELL/ MAYBE MY BABY T-Bird Americana TBIRDAM 031 HH 1980s country-pop dross best forgotten Louise Mandrell is the epitome of the

all-round entertainer: singer, musician (she reportedly can play 13 different instruments), dancer, actress, television host, and so on. Reading through this lady’s resume, it makes you wonder if there’s anything in the entertainment business she cannot do. The younger sister of Barbara Mandrell has also enjoyed a career in country music, though her style of country is very much the glossy, pop-styled kind with little of the rural roots of genuine country music. Though the sleeve notes tell us this pair of albums were originally released on RCA, they are incorrect. LOUISE MANDRELL was originally released on Epic Records in 1981 and MAYBE MY BABY on RCA four years later, following a label change in 1982. This was at the peak of the Urban Cowboy movement in country music, and in a futile attempt to cash-in on the pop-

104 Maverick

crossover market, Nashville watered down country music for the pop masses to the detriment of the music. Through the huge viewing figures for the

flashy Barbara Mandrell Television show, which was seen by more than 40 million viewers worldwide, country music lost a lot credibility at the time, and it was down very much to performers like Louise Mandrell, who with her younger sister Irlene was a regular on the television show. Glamour was the order of the day and musical integrity was virtually ignored. It was the same with Louise’s recordings and despite the top ten country chart success of such singles as Maybe My Baby and I Wanna Say Yes, both included here, they really had little or no connection with country music. There’s revivals of former pop hits like Robert Knight/Love Affair’s Everlasting Love and Peaches & Herbs’ Reunited (a duet with then husband RC Bannon), alongside quality songs penned by Music Row’s finest including Curly Putman, Kieran Kane, John Schweers, Rafe Van Hoy and Deborah Allen, but they are devoid of any genuine country emotion or soul. Once you’ve heard John Conlee’s rendition of You Never Cross My Mind, that Louise opens this collection with, like me, you’ll feel like stomping all over this disc until it breaks into tiny pieces. Pop not country—and lightweight pop at that. Alan Cackett

Marty Robbins MY WOMAN, MY WOMAN, MY WIFE/ MARTY AFTER MIDNIGHT Morella Records MRLL2 HHHH Proving if it was needed that the late Marty Robbins was a supreme ballad singer Marty Robbins was without doubt the

most versatile singer to grace the country music genre. He was both a consistent commercial star and innovative figure willing to continually take risks in a way that today’s major country stars would find almost impossible to comprehend. If he was starting out today, he’d be advised to stick to one sound and never deviate from what radio dictates should be played. Thankfully, he came along in an era when he could not only insist on doing things his way, but would get the support necessary

from almost everyone whose path he crossed, from recording label executives to fellow artists and most importantly the record buying public. These two albums reissued in this latest 2on1 package date from 1970 and 1962 respectively. It’s not the perfect pairing, it would have been more appropriate to have paired MARTY AFTER MIDNIGHT with the previous year’s TURN THE LIGHTS DOWN LOW, and 1967’s BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX would have sat better with MY WOMAN, MY WOMAN, MY WIFE, but I guess fans should be thankful for these small crumbs and be eternally grateful that after all these years, long-out-of-print LPs are finally being made available on CD. It seems hard to believe that it was

50 years ago that I bought MARTY AFTER MIDNIGHT. It still amazes me how masterfully Marty handled such popular standards as I’m In The Mood For Love, Pennies From Heaven, It Had To Be You and September In The Rain. These renditions still stand up there alongside all the established vocal masters. Though Willie Nelson is often credited with being the first country star to travel down this road with his classic STARDUST, ol’ Marty beat him by a good 15 years and did just as well, vocally. Not only that, into the mix he threw in more contemporary tunes including the self- penned Don’t Throw Me Away, his long-time band member Joe Babcock’s If I Could Cry and Brook Benton’s Looking Back. MY WOMAN, MY WOMAN, MY WIFE came at a

traumatic time in Marty’s life. Just prior to the recordings he had undergone major heart by-pass surgery and his voice had lost some of its rich timbre, to be replaced with vulnerability and a sensitivity that cuts through on the self-penned Three Little Words and his fine version of Can’t Help Falling In Love. Naturally this album’s focal point is the 1970 Grammy winning title song, but equally impressive is Robbins other self-penned gem I’ve Got A Woman’s Love, the lighter Martha Ellen Jenkins and the slightly more countryish Maria (If I Could) with one of his finest ever vocal performances. Both albums are a long way from what

we might consider to be country music, but when it comes to musical artistry and vocal perfection, neither can in any way be faulted and they stand up there alongside the very finest work that Marty Robbins produced during his thirty-year recording career. Alan Cackett

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