Always a solid singer, David Frizzell has had to free himself from the shadows of other country stars... He is the younger brother of honky tonk legend Lefty Frizzell, and as a teenager, he toured with his brother's band, during the height of Lefty's fame. After a Viet Nam-era stint in the armed services, David Frizzell came back to Nashville and recorded as a solo artist, where he had mild success on the charts, and found work touring and on TV. His big breakthrough came, however, when he paired up with singer Shelly West (the daughter of Nashville star, Dottie West) -- the duo became one of the hottest acts in the early 1980s country scene, and their names were inextricably linked. Frizzell's own solo career never matched those commercial heights, but he's put out consistently good music over the years... Here's a quick look at his career.
David Frizzell & Shelly West "Greatest Hits -- Alone And Together" (K-Tel, 1994)
David Frizzell & Shelly West "The Very Best Of David Frizzell & Shelly West" (Varese Sarabande, 2009)
Very popular, slickly produced hits from the early '80s... Personally, I don't get the appeal of these synthy, thinly arranged pop-country ballads, but they were big, big hits, and it's kind of amazing that they stayed out of print for so long. A real treat for longtime fans; not sure how much they'd appeal to the average twangfan, though.
David Frizzell "The Very Best Of David Frizzell" (Varese Sarabande, 2009)
A nice collection of Frizzell's largely lesser-known solo work. Features hits such as the rollicking, Moe Bandy-ish material, like "I'm Gonna Hire A Wino To Decorate Our Home" and "When We Get Back to the Farm," as well as sleepier numbers like "Lone Star Lonesome" and "I Wish I Could Hurt That Way Again," along with the obligatory, Hank Jr,-esque nods towards his legendary older brother, "Lefty" and "We Won't Be Hearing 'Always Late' Anymore." Sure would be swell if someone would gather together his handful of early singles from the 1950s, '60s and '70s, too, so we could hear what he sounded like before synths took over the country scene.
David Frizzell "Best Of The Best" (King/Federal, 1999)
(Produced by Tommy Hill)
Purists generally deplore rerecorded versions of old hit songs, but it's still nice to hear how strong Frizzell's voice has stayed over the years; if anything, he's become a superior stylist in the decades since he first hit the charts with tunes like "You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma" and "Gonna Hire A Wino." Outside of a stray, tinkly-toned keyboard riff here and there, the arrangements are pretty good as well; if you can't track down the originals, these retooled renditions are actually quite worthwhile. I'm not thrilled by his new duet partner, Coni Lee, but hey... whatever. Frizzell himself still sounds great.
David Frizzell & Shelly West "Carryin' On The Family Names" (Warner, 1981) (LP)
David Frizzell & Shelly West "The David Frizzell & Shelly West Album" (Warner, 1982) (LP)
David Frizzell "The Family's Fine, But This One's All Mine!" (Warner, 1982) (LP)
David Frizzell & Shelly West "Our Best to You" (Warner, 1983) (LP)
David Frizzell "On My Own Again" (Viva, 1983) (LP)
David Frizzell & Shelly West "In Session" (Viva, 1984) (LP)
David Frizzell "Solo" (Viva, 1984) (LP)
David Frizzell & Shelly West "Golden Duets: The Best Of Frizzell & West" (Viva, 1984)
David Frizzell "My Life Is Just a Bridge" (Dead Line, 1993)
David Frizzell "For The Love Of Country" (King/Federal, 1999)
David Frizzell "...Takes To The Road" (King/Federal, 2001)
David Frizzell "2001 (You've Just Been Robbed By Jesse James)" (Nashville America, 2001)
(Produced by David Frizzell)
It's kinda sad that a record this good, by an artist who was once so successful, would have to put his later albums out on some dinky, off-the-radar private label. Really, this is a rock-solid, anthemic hard-country album, which shows Frizzell still in peak form, and sounding only slightly long in the tooth. His new vocal partner, Peggy Rains, may be a little grating at first, but she can grow on you after a while. Funny; I guess when you don't have to give a hoot what the record execs are telling you to do, you can go ahead and make a damn fine record. Creaks a bit in places, but well worth tracking down, especially for fans of his old stuff!
David Frizzell "Confidentially" (Nashville America, 2006)
David Frizzell/Various Artists "This Is Our Time" (Nashville America, 2008)
David Frizzell "Counting On Love To Save Me" (Nashville America, 2010)
Hick Music Index