Songwriter Dick Feller spent a big chunk of the 1960s working in the background of Nashville's country scene, playing in the bands of Mel Tillis, Skeeter Davis and Warner Mack, working as a guitarist and bandleader. When he finally broke out if the pack and went solo, it was as an outlaw-ish, novelty-oriented songwriter, providing early '70s hits to Jerry Reed, Johnny Cash and others. Success as a writer led to a recording career, and several elegantly produced albums, each packed with understated alt-country gems. I'm a big fan of his work... Here's a quick peek.
Dick Feller "Dick Feller Wrote" (United Artists, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Butler & Larry Lee)
What few hits Feller had as a songwriter haven't held the public imagination over the years -- I think "Uncle Hiram and The Homemade Beer" and Jerry Reed's version of the anti-automobile anthem, "Lord Mr. Ford" may just about cover it. Still, his early albums have some truly charming gems on them, and Feller's acoustic guitar work is nothing short of dazzling. With several Nashville cats in the studio band, these songs often hit a nice stride, and though Feller is hardly what you'd call a great singer, he's really, really likeable. Part of the charm is the improbability of a craggy-voiced fellow like Feller making records -- and much of it is the quality of the songs. "Money, Trouble and Love," "Let It Ride," and "Goodbye California" are catchy and clever... Hopefully someday the folks who own the rights will come up with a retrospective disc that does him justice... Until they do, try to track these old LPs down... they're definitely worth the search.
Dick Feller "No Word On Me" (Elektra-Asylum, 1974)
(Produced by Larry Butler)
If you like Feller's work, you'll want to check this album out, although a lot of it I find to be more in a folk-ish countrypolitan vein, and less playful or compelling than the two albums that surround it. "Makin' The Best Of A Bad Situation" is okay, while the novelty number, "My Baby Ran Off With A Coal Miner (And All I Got Was Teh Shaft)" is a bit strained, to say the least. The two tracks that close the record are standouts: Feller's ode to the locomotive, "To Late For The Trains" and "No Word On Me," a puckishly-named instrumental which shows his fingerpicking chops. Maybe someday there'll be a best-of set that will pull the good stuff of this disc...
Dick Feller "Some Days Are Diamonds" (Elektra-Asylum, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Butler)
This is his best album, with about half the songs being real gems: the bawdy, profane, catchy "Let It Ride" and the cheerful, limerick-like "Money Trouble And Love" bookend the set, while the soulful guitar number, "Richard's Slide Blues" and the giddy novelty classic, "Uncle Hiram And The Homemade Beer" brighten up the middle. The title track, "Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone)," is a sweet, mournful slice of folkie philosophical reflection... Indeed, this a very fine record, well worth tracking down!
Dick Feller "Audiograph Alive" (Indigo/Audiograph, 1982)
(Produced by Ron Demmans & Don Kunselman)
A live album, has several older songs on it... Recorded in a club in Nashville.
Dick Feller "Centaur Of Attention" (Cyberphonic, 2001)
Dick Feller "Children In Their Wishes, Ladies In Their Dreams" (Asylum, 1977 - Unreleased)
Apparently this one got shelved by the label, although Dick Feller's website lists it as having been finished, and there are rumors of a foreign bootleg of some sort... Anyone got more info?
Lewis Grizzard "Don't Believe I'da Told That!" (Columbia, 1991)
Country novelty songs with a Southern twist... Grizzard was a Georgia-born newspaper columnist and humorist who wrote a bunch of humor books and caught flak for a string of purposefully un-PC jokes... I guess he and Feller hooked up at some point and made a few records together...
Lewis Grizzard "Alimony: The Bill You Get For The Thrill You Got" (Intersound, 1994)
In addition to co-writing almost all the songs and playing guitar and bass on these sessions, Dick Feller is actually the main vocalist on half the album. But without an artist credit. Go figure.
Hick Music Index