AMAZON REVIEWS – PART TWO

Back in the days before writing for the 9513 Blog, I would post occasional reviews on Amazon. Belong are those reviews, updated very slightly. Note: Amazon used a 5 star rating scale, not allowing for fractional ratings

RUBY & OTHER BLUEGRASS SPECIALS – BUCK OWENS – September 3, 2006 Four Stars

Give Buck Owens credit – he knew that the “freight train ” sound was growing a bit stale and he was willing to experiment. I’VE GOT YOU ON MY MIND AGAIN was the first album to feature background voices and strings, something he continued on the next studio album TALL DARK STRANGER (both 1969). In 1971 Owens took a more contemporary turn with his BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER album, which was recorded without fiddle or steel guitar and featured songs by the likes of Paul Simon and Donovan. Later in 1971 came RUBY AND OTHER BLUEGRASS SPECIALS

Not exactly bluegrass in it’s instrumentation (marred by drums and organ) it nevertheless is a fun romp through eight bluegrass classics plus two from the Buck Owens catalogue recast as bluegrass. Both singles issued from the album, “Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” and “Ruby (Honey Are You Mad At Your Man)” went to #1 on the more sales-oriented Cashbox charts (Billboard had them at #2 and #3 respectively). The title cut was a hit the year before for the Osborne Brothers, so it was still fresh in the public memory as was “Rocky Top” the Osborne Brothers big hit from 1968. “Ole Slew Foot” was part of both the country and bluegrass repertoire and so was familiar to fans of both genres although the only hit on the song was by Porter Wagoner. “I Know You’re Married But I Love You Still” was one of the most requested tunes for the beloved bluegrass duo of Don Reno & Red Smiley. Of course, everyone knows “Uncle Pen”.

Owens didn’t stray too far from bluegrass with his next album TOO OLD TO CUT THE MUSTARD, with son Buddy Alan. but Owens never again returned to the genre after that. Good clean fun – equal emphasis on all three words

IF YOU’RE GOING THROUGH HELL – RODNEY ATKINS – August 16, 2006 – Five Stars

My wife purchased this CD for me. Since I tend to prefer traditional country to modern country, I expected to like only a few of the tracks. Instead, I found that I really liked this CD. The lyrics are mostly very positive, focusing on topics such as friends, family and determination. The current single “If You’re Going Through Hell” has been a huge success but it’s not the best song on the CD. I would opt for “Man On A Tractor”, “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)” or “Watching You” , a trio of songs that tell good stories. Actually the only song on the CD that isn’t really a story-song (and also isn’t really a positive song to the extent of the rest of the CD) is the honky-tonker “Wasted Whiskey”

It’s well worth purchasing and you need not be afraid to let the kiddies hear it, either

WE SHALL OVERCOME : THE SEEGER SESSIONS – BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – August 9, 2006 – Five Stars
This CD is a rarity – a recording that will appeal to folk enthusiasts such as myself, who have no particular interest in Bruce Springsteen, and long-time Springsteen fans who will find a new dimension to their hero’s music.

First, a little about Pete Seeger. Born in 1919, Seeger was part of the most famous (and commercially successful) folk group ever, the Weavers. Splitting off on his own, Seeger remained an engaging singer and storyteller throughout the years that he was being blacklisted for his one-time Communist Party membership (he left the CPUSA in 1950). His half-siblings Mike Seeger and Peggy Seeger have been among the leading folk performers and musicologists of the 20th century.

This album consists of songs closely associated with Pete Seeger, some written by him and others arranged/collected/ compiled by Seeger from the folk tradition. Songs such as “Old Dan Tucker”, “Jesse James”, “John Henry” and “Shenandoah” should be familiar to all. “We Shall Overcome” was the anthem of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Interestingly enough, Bruce does NOT cover any of Seeger’s three most famous compositions (“Where Have All the Flowers Gone”, “If I Had a Hammer”, and “Turn, Turn, Turn”).

This music has a very organic feel to it. Recorded over a period of years, it sounds spontaneous and unrehearsed, although the material was obviously familiar to all of the musicians. The Boss sings with great enthusiasm, and spirit of the fun felt by the musicians is infectious. You will find yourself singing along with these songs, and the funny thing is, you’ll fit right in.

Everyone should own a copy of this disc

FRANK SINATRA SINGS THE SELECT COLE PORTER – August 7, 2006 – Five Stars

If you have all of Frank Sinatra’s classic Capitol albums (1953-1961), then you won’t NEED this CD since all the tracks can be found on his studio albums and soundtrack albums of this period. On the other hand, you will WANT it for it sure is convenient to have all of these great Cole Porter songs on one CD.

I first purchased this on LP many years ago, one of the first Sinatra LPs I purchased, and dubbed it onto a reel-to-reel tape for frequent listening. At the time, I didn’t realize that this was an anthology cobbled together by Capitol to have some new product to compete with the new Reprise recordings.

Cole Porter is my favorite pop standard composer (along with Johnny Mercer) and Sinatra sings Porter better than anyone, so I was glad to buy this album, whatever the motivation for putting it out. “Night And Day” is probably my favorite song on the CD but I love every song on it and so will you. The CD has some additional tracks not on the original LP release so even if your vinyl is in good shape (like mine), you’ll probably buy this disc, if you can find it

DANILLE PECK – June 19, 2006 – Four Stars

I received Danielle Peck’s self-titled CD for Father’s Day. I was prepared to be disappointed but instead found myself really enjoying the CD. While Ms. Peck doesn’t have the greatest voice, it is sexy and assertive AND she has it under full control (none of the “shrieking diva” approach too often found on CDs by today’s country females). The songs selected are very suitable to Ms Peck’s voice, and very good lyrically. I say this because,

typically, most CDs have several songs that are out and out duds, but I liked all eleven songs on the CD.

The current song being pushed to radio is “Finding A Good Man” with “I Don’t” having also received airplay. Ms Peck has co-writer credits on several of the songs although not on the current hit.

“Kiss You On The Mouth” (a somewhat steamy ballad), “Honky-Tonk Time” and “A Woman Does Too” also would make good songs to promote to radio. The CD is a little heavy on ballads; one more uptempo number inserted near the end of the CD would have been good.

Apparently Big Machine Records is one of those independent labels associated with Toby Keith, but if so, he must be allowing the artists to have complete artistic independence as he wrote none of the songs on the CD and the disc doesn’t seem to have any of Toby’s touches to the production. Ms Peck does thank her manager, Barbara Orbison in the tray card notes – I assume this is Roy Orbison’s widow.

Anyway, I highly recommend this disc and look forward to her sophomore effort. If allowed fractional ratings I would give this album 4.5 stars

2016 comment – in retrospect I would NOT give this 4.5 stars, but would leave it at 4 stars

STAND STILL, LOOK PRETTY – THE WRECKERS (Michelle Branch / Jessica Harp) – June 1, 2006 – Four Stars

I am not sure why this group is being marketed to Country audiences since, with the exception of two tracks (“Crazy People” and “My, Oh My”) this really isn’t Country Music at all. A better description would be acoustic or semi-acoustic pop. That’s not to say this isn’t pleasant fare, because I rather enjoyed most of the CD. I think that both of the country-ish numbers cited above would make good singles with strong charting possibilities. “I Leave The Pieces” is the current song receiving airplay and it is pretty decent, too. There is a nice mixture of ballads and faster songs, and the musicianship is quite good, although as one reviewer noted, there is a little too much bass tothe production

I read somewhere that Michelle Branch really wanted to make a more bluegrass leaning album but was prevented from doing so by the label. Too bad, because with the nice vocal harmonies Ms Harp and Ms Branch display, this would have made a magnificent totally acoustic album. As is, it is a pretty decent album, although I hope the next album either pushes further toward bluegrass or else has some real country twang to it.

I’M YOUR BIGGEST FAN – DALLAS WAYNE – May 18, 2006 – Five Stars
You’ve got to love Dallas Wayne, who continues to produce solid honest-to-God country music in an age when too many have wimped out. While I’m sure that Dallas is aware of the Iggles, Skynard, Marshall Tucker, ZZ Top and their ilk, very little of it shows up in his music.

While I like every song on the CD, I guess my favorite song is “You Can Count On Me” where the basic premise is a warning to the woman that she can count on him to mess things up. “Your Biggest Fan” is a stalker song, but a cleverly done one. “Tell It To The Jukebox” is a bartender telling his customer that he’s maintained his sanity by having his bar stool fools foist their sad stories off on the jukebox. “Junior Samples” is not about the legendary Hee-Haw star but uses his name in some word-play.

If you’re looking for politically correct , well-mannered country music, you’ll not find it here. If you’re looking for the twangy stuff – the good stuff – you’ve done found it!

01. 3:30 in the afternoon
02. I’m your biggest fan

03. junior samples
04. under the overpass
05. tex-tosterone
06. it’s all over, all over town
07. she’s good to go
08. you can count on me
09. tell it to the jukebox
10. crank the hank
11. still know how to cry
12. downhill slide

2016 comment – Dallas Hosts a radio show on Willie’s Roadhouse (Channel 59 XM-Radio)