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DUSTY RELICS


such as Jack Greene’s Statue Of A Fool, Charlie Rich’s Life’s Little Ups And Downs, Roy Orbison’s Oh Pretty Woman, Wayne Kemp’s Who’ll Turn The Lights Out, and Mickey Newbury’s Sweet Memories, the latter a gorgeous duet with Brenda Lee. Even the newer Music Row songs that he chose to record, like Allen Shamblin’s Oh Heart Of Mine and Roger Murrah’s Some Things Are Better Left Alone, have the feel of the 1970s about them, whilst the up-tempo, pseudo rockabilly-styled Love Is Burnin’ sounds like a long lost 1950s gem. The possessor of a smooth baritone, there was never anything edgy or threatening about Rick Van Shelton, he produced wholesome country music for the masses, and for a few short years the American country masses lapped it up. But once he stopped touring and doing the radio promotion, the radio stations stopped playing his music and the American country masses moved on to the next big thing, and Ricky Van Shelton faded very rapidly into country music oblivion. A great pity, as he stood out in a sea of twanging male country voices. Alan Cackett


www.t-birdamericana.com


Ronnie Milsap LOST IN THE FIFTIES TONIGHT/ HEART & SOUL T-Bird Americana TBIRDAM 038 HHH Milsap at his commercial peak, but occasionally let-down by over-indulgence There are some artists whose bodies of


work defy categorisation. The great ones will not be limited to one style of music or one signature sound. The truly legendary artists take their inspiration from the entire spectrum of music, and create something uniquely theirs, something universal and timeless. Through their music they become part of our culture, and their songs are ingrained in the soundtrack of our lives. Ronnie Milsap is just such an artist. Since exploding onto the country music scene in 1973, Milsap has scored 60 singles in the American country top 10, 39 of them going all the way to number one. He was born and raised in the Smoky Mountains in extreme poverty. Blind from birth he attended church revivals from a young age and has maintained a strong gospel influence in his music.


106 Maverick He started out in the mid-1960s singing


soul and r&b, but by the early 1970s he’d moved to Nashville and re-invented himself as a country singer. For a while he maintained a fairly conservative country sound, but slowly he started flexing his musical muscles, and by the time this pair of albums were released in 1986/1987 he’d become a pop-country crossover superstar. Lost In The Fifties Tonight a stunning nostalgia song co-written by Mike Reid and Troy Seals is pure pop magic. Almost as good is In Love, another country chart- topper. At the time Milsap could do no wrong, he was on a roll with one number one hit after another. But he didn’t always get it right, his revival of Barrett Strong’s Money (That’s What I Want), the funky, horn-driven Earthquake and the over-blown Make No Mistake (She’s Mine) duet with Kenny Rogers were average bar-band fare and not worthy of someone of Milsap’s stature. But when on-song, as with the reflective Nashville Moon, an impeccable revival of 1950s teen ballad Happy, Happy Birthday Baby and the gorgeous sad-edged This Time Last Year, Ronnie Milsap was in a class of his own. So, what we have here, is some quality pop material, let down by a few too many mis-steps. Alan Cackett www.t-birdamericana.com


Songs For Hank GEORGE JONES: SALUTES HANK WILLIAMS JACK SCOTT: I REMEMBER HANK WILLIAMS Righteous PSALM 23:66 HHHH Hank Williams’ timeless classics interpreted by George and Jack He’s been called the ‘hillbilly


Shakespeare’ and like Stratford-upon- Avon’s favourite son, Hank Williams’ songs live on for future generations to enjoy. This single CD brings together George Jones gritty tribute album from 1960 and Jack Scott’s smoother collection from the same year. At times Jones aped the Williams’ style a little too closely, but when he stretched out into his own blossoming sound as with Why Don’t You Love Me and Honky Tonkin’ then we have something rather special. Though Jack Scott is regarded more as a pop singer who dabbled with country, the Canadian’s music was always deeply rooted in country. Though these recordings


featured lush string arrangements to sweeten the Hank Williams’ tunes, Scott’s soulful voice added just about the right amount of backwoods credibility to keep this firmly planted within country music. Alan Cackett


www.cherryred.co.uk


Various Artists TEENAGE: TEENAGERS & YOUTH IN MUSIC 1951-1960 Bear Family BCD 17242 AH HHI Not what it says on the label … a great big let-down An inspired idea for a compilation,


but sadly way off the mark. The sleeve notes by Jon Savage tell us boldly: ‘When American won the Second World War …; something which I take great exception to. He then goes on to tell us that good old America invented the ‘teenager’ … I read on to see mention of the wheel, the steam locomotive and anything else he could lay claim to for our friends across the Atlantic, but he somehow managed to resist. I was a teenager in the late 1950s, so I was there. I also recall my mum, who was a teenager in the 1930s, telling me about her teenage exploits and the crushes she had on popular singers and film stars of the time. Yes, I know teenagers did come into their own in the 1950s, but they weren’t an entirely new phenomena. They’ve been around almost as long as the human race with their hormones, puberty, mood swings, petulance and rebelliousness. Having got that off my chest, let’s now


look at the music. From the title you’d get the impression that here was a collection of teenagers singing about teenage life and concerns in the 1950s. Sorry to disappoint you. A thirty-year-old Nat ‘King’ Cole (one of my old mum’s crushes) opens with the twee Too Young, a great record but it certainly set my alarm bells clanging. With the mistaken emphasis placed on songs with the word ‘teenage’ in the title, the whole theme of youth music in the 1950s has been lost. No Presley, Holly or even Paul Anka’s Diana; one of the greatest teenage angst songs of the whole decade (and he was just 16 at the time). I’m sorry I lived through this period and this collection misses its target by miles. The most appropriate songs here are Dion & the


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