Originally a stalwart of the Omaha, Nebraska roots music scene, Jon Emery emigrated to Austin in the late 1970s, during the height of the outlaw/singer-songwriter movement. He formed a long-running partnership with ex-Asleep at the Wheeler Leroy Preston, and made a name for himself as a purveyor of "hillbilly rock'n'roll," and later of more contemplative Americana-country. Here's a quick look at his work...
Jon Emery "Jon Emery's Greatest Hits (That Never Were)" (JE Records, 2007)
Jon Emery "Hillbilly Rock 'N Roll" (Bear Family/Maverick Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by John Gracey)
Though he'd been kicking around in countless bands for over a decade, I guess this was Emery's first solo album... Some nice stuff on here, though there's maybe more manic-sounding rockabilly material than I need. I like the country stuff, though, particularly "Hillbilly Jukebox," which some sweet accompaniment by legendary steel player Jimmy Day, and western swing fiddler Alvin Crow. Emery gives nods to a bunch of country and hillbilly greats, including the Delmore Brothers, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley and the swampy blues of Tony Joe White. Twang-oriented highlights include tunes like "Beer Thirty" and the mournful "Endless River." This disc has plenty of rough edges, but I think they're the kind you'll like.
Jon Emery "If You Don't Buy This, I'll Find Somebody Who Will" (Bear Family, 1995)
Jon Emery "Two Separate Highways" (Rib House, 1997)
(Produced by Jon Emery & Art Blondin)
A hard-hitting, multi-layered concept album which is one of the most bitter, scathing and comprehensive records about relationships breaking up that's ever been recorded. Co-written with Art Blondin, this spans various stages of romantic dissolution which, not surprisingly, mirror the stages of dealing with death: shock, denial, bargaining, acceptance, etc. Things start out relatively calmly, with a few songs noting differences of temperament which grow more pronounced and prolonged, with this phase best summed up in the song, "You Always Seem To Go The Other Way." A short instrumental break signals the shift into breakup and open warfare, with Emery sounding desperate and confused on "I Was Framed," where he worries abut what people are saying about him and tries to tell a new lover that all the horrible things his ex says about him just aren't true: so much for that rebound relationship! The strongest, most resonant songs come in the album's final third, with stunners and devastating soul-crushers such as "Givin' Up The Game," "In Each Other's Way" and "The Pain Is The Last Thing To Go." These songs, as well as the nearly-commerical novelty number "He Lives Next Door," are all mega-bummers, but quite cathartic if you're in the mood. The scene closes on a note of wisdom and resignation, as Emery confronts "The Old Man In The Mirror," a serene but inevitable end to an old, old story.
Jon Emery "VIP: The Leroy Preston Songbook" (Rib House, 2001)
Whiskey Drinkin' Music "Live In Lubbock: 1980" (WDM, 2004)
A memento of Emery and Preston's hard-rocking band, Whiskey Drinkin' Music, recorded live in the heart of Texas...
Jon Emery "The Singles Collection" (JE Records)
Jon Emery "Bill White Sessions" (JE Records)
Apparently this was a privately-released edition of Emery's first recordings, from way back in 1972-73, when he was under the tutelage of Midwestern folkie Bill White. Not sure when or where this one came out... I think it used to be available on Emery's own website, though I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere.
Jon Emery "A Thousand Sad Goodbyes: Jon Emery Sings The Songs Of Gene Clark" (JE Records)
Jon Emery "Live At The Cactus" (JE Records)
Jon Emery "Early Morning Blues" (JE Records, 2007)
Hick Music Index