In the early 1960s, songwriter Liz Anderson struck gold as the hot new composer of the day when she provided Merle Haggard with several of his earliest hits. In 1966, she embarked on a recording career of her own, but was soon overshadowed by the superstar status of her daughter, Lynn Anderson, who became one of the biggest hitmakers of the early '70s countypolitan scene. Seen simply as a Nashville singer-songwriter, Anderson has to be considered a major talent, even if her own chart success did not necessarily reflect this. Although she got swamped in indifferent production, and overbooked with novelty material, her albums still hold up well, and her vocal performances are engaging, confident and direct. Me, I'm kind of partial to Anderson's own versions of her songs, and the handful of albums she recorded have a particular charm that's all their own...
Liz Anderson "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers -- And Other Songs By Liz Anderson" (RCA-Camden, 1966) [CAS-959]
A mighty fine country album. It features, of course, the title track, which was one of her first major songwriting successes, and her own version more than holds its own next to the better-known Merle Haggard hit. The rest of the album is of equal calibre -- one great song after another. This album was her finest, purest moment as a for-real country singer, and one of her more straightforward performances as a vocalist. Later on, producer Felton Jarvis would play up Anderson's "novelty" side, with kooky arrangements that undercut her ability to to present herself as serious singer; here, though she just gets to sing, and puts herself fully into each great lyric. Although there are a few goofy-innovative musical touches (mostly a squeeky, bouncy pedal steel, most noticable on "The Words I'm Gonna Have To Eat"), its a loping, easygoing honkytonk vibe that predominates, and coupled with killer compositions like "The Bottle Turned Into A Blonde," "Go Now Pay Later," "The Worst Is Yet To Come," and "Be Gone," well... this is a record to be reckoned with! Highly recommended.
Liz Anderson "Liz Anderson Sings" (RCA, 1967) [LSP-3908]
Norma Jean/Bobby Bare/Liz Anderson "The Game Of Triangles" (RCA, 1967) (LPM-3764) (LP)
An oddly-assembled, but still quite pleasant album featuring several three-way collaborations between these RCA second-stringers, as well as a solo tune or two apiece. Anderson's material is most striking (although often quite hokey); at the time Bare was still stuck in the post-teen idol, sort-of folkie persona that the label had cast him in. Not a mind-blowing album, and quite a concept album, but it's got some nice stuff on it.
Liz Anderson "Cookin' Up Hits" (RCA, 1967) [LSP-3852]
Liz Anderson "Liz Anderson Sings Her Favorites" (RCA, 1968) [LSP-3908]
Liz Anderson "Like A Merry-Go-Round" (RCA, 1968) [LSP-4014]
(Produced by Felton Jarvis)
A somewhat disasterous record... I mean, there are a few nice songs on here, but mostly this was a waste of Anderson's talent, with producer Felton Jarvis miscasting her as a "wacky" novelty artist, and cluttering up the disc with ramshackle arrangements on toss-off tunes like the title track and "Did You Have To Bring That Up (While I Was Eating)." There's also a girl-groupish strain to many of the songs, a hangover perhaps from Jarvis's work with other RCA "gal" singers such as Skeeter Davis and Connie Smith -- this perky, poppy approach suits Anderson just fine, except there's a sense that the boys in the band just weren't taking it seriously, and they undercut any emotional impact that might have otherwise built up. Sure, she had a strong novelty streak, but trying to make Anderson into a female Sheb Wooley was definitely not the right way to go... Still, there are some good weepers on here, and a couple of uptempo honkytonkers, such as "Tonight I'll Throw A Party," that stand out and are kinda fun. One of her lesser efforts, but still worth checking out.
Liz Anderson "Country Style" (RCA, 1969) [LSP-4118]
Liz Anderson "If The Creek Don't Rise" (RCA, 1969) [LSP-4222]
This disc also has a tilt towards novelty tunes, but with a more straightforward musical approach that at least gives her a chance to pull off the gags while wearing a straight face. And the payoff is great -- the album starts off on a semi-serious note, with a half-yodelled cover of '40s bandleader Vaughn Monroe's pop chestnut, "Mockin' Bird Hill," but then it moves on to more delicious, more country material, such as "Stand Back (There's Gonna Be A Fight)," "Rainy Season's Over," "Ekcedrin Headache #99" and fine covers of "This Ole House," "Mr. Walker, It's All Over" and Tom T. Hall's "Lincoln Park Inn." This one's a goodie!
Liz Anderson "Husband Hunting" (RCA, 1970) [LSP-4346]
And this one's even better! First, it's got one of the classic country album covers of all time: Liz Anderson hiking up the hem of her full, white wedding dress to reveal a pearl-handled derringer tucked in her garter belt. Inside, the album is equally potent, packed with fine originals and effective, well-chosen covers ("Born To Lose," "Down In The Boondocks," and another nod towards Merle, with a jovial version of "Okie From Muskogee"). Finally, the RCA boys calmed down and just gave Liz a chance to sing 'em straight! Definitely one of her best albums... (And on the back cover? She's totin' a long-barrelled rifle... and she looks like she knows how to use it! Don't mess with this gal...!!)
Liz Anderson "My Last Rose" (Tudor, 1983)
Liz Anderson "Christmas Songs For Kids Of All Ages" (SBT, 1989)
Liz Anderson "Cowgirl Way" (Show, 1999)
None... as far as I know...
Lynn Anderson "Songs My Mother Wrote" (Chart, 1970)
Hick Music Index