Songwriter-entrprenuer Leon Ashley (1936-2013) was one of country's great DIY successes... He scored a big hit in 1967 with his country-folk/countrypolitan ballad, "Laura (What's He Got, I Ain't Got)." Ashley originally released the single on his own indie label, but leased it to RCA to get national distribution -- where it quickly went to #1 on the charts. Afterwards, he returned to his indie roots, releasing several albums of his own work, as well as some records featuring his wife, Margie Singleton. (Be nice to see some of her songs back in print sometime, too!) Here's a quick look at his work...
Leon Ashley "Laura" (Gusto, 2007)
Leon Ashley "The Best Of Leon Ashley" (Ashley, 1970) (LP)
Leon Ashley "Laura (What's He Got, I Ain't Got)" (RCA, 1967) (LP)
Leon Ashley "New Brand Of Country" (Ashley, 1969) (LP)
Leon Ashley "Flower Of Love" (Hilltop, 1969) (LP)
Leon Ashley "Mental Journey" (Ashley, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Merle Kilgore)
The album title holds great promise of a gothic country psychodrama, along the lines of Porter Wagoner's "Rubber Room," but it winds up being just a song about a romantic reverie. That's okay, though: like the rest of the record, it's a modest, well-produced countrypolitan ballad, not too overproduced, not overly exciting, but robust enough to hold a twangfan's ear. There are some contemporary musical touches, but none of the huge orchestrations of the Billy Sherrill style -- just a modest (and anonymous) Nashville studio crew keeping it twangy but mellow. Worth a spin!
Leon Ashley "Ease Up: By Special Request" (Ashley, 1972)
Hick Music Index