Fiddler Clinton Gregory went from being a child prodigy to Nashville session player in the late 1980s, and in the '90s found modest success as a Top Forty solo star. Although he didn't make much of a dent in the charts, his infusion of rootsy, twangy, old-fashioned country was welcome to fans, and the records he's made over the years are well worth your time. Here's a quick look at his work...
Clinton Gregory "The Best Of Clinton Gregory" (Gusto/Step One, 2005)
Clinton Gregory "Music 'N' Me" (Step One, 1990)
Clinton Gregory "If It Weren't For Country Music I'd Go Crazy" (Step One, 1991)
Clinton Gregory "Freeborn Man" (Step One, 1991)
Clinton Gregory "Master Of Illusion" (Step One, 1993)
Clinton Gregory "For Christmas" (Step One, 1993)
Clinton Gregory "Clinton Gregory" (Polydor/SOR Nashville, 1995)
(Produced by Harold Shedd & Ed Seay)
Slick, but still soulful, though you can't help feeling that the major label contract may have jinxed things for him. These tunes are more prefab than his indie-label Step One recordings, but still worth checking out. The repertoire's a mixed bag, with one highlight being a late-edition Harlan Howard song, the loping hard-country "Don't Our Love Look Natural," along with some nice tunes from a bunch of less well-known composers. This album includes Gregory's last single to chart in the Top 100 -- "You Didn't Miss A Thing," which stopped at #68, effectively closing the curtain on his Top 40 days. Anyway, this one's not great, but worth checking out, with a some duds and some nice ones - I liked the novelty-oriented "I've Got A Double," where they let Gregory play the fiddle.
Clinton Gregory "Play, Ruby, Play" (Step One, 2000)
Clinton Gregory & Hank Cochran "Live At Joe's Flora-Bama" (1998)
Clinton Gregory "Too Much Ain't Enough" (Melody Roundup, 2012)
(Produced by Jamey Creasy & Clinton Gregory)
In the early 1990s, singer-fiddler Clinton Gregory moved from the world of bluegrass into mainstream country, recording a series of excellent albums and several singles that cracked the lower rungs of the Country Top 40. As the opening track on his new album suggests, Gregory was a little "Too Country For Nashville," and eventually his traditionally-oriented sound faltered against the wave of increasingly modern sounds that swept Nashville at the time. He slipped out of sight, but many fans treasure his old albums, and doubtless they'll love this one as well. Of course, what counts as "retro" keeps changing along with what's "contemporary," and some of these songs -- particularly the ballads -- may sound a little slick compared to the honky-tony tinges of his old stuff. Still, there's plenty of fiddle and pedal steel, and Gregory still sings 'em like he means 'em, with sincerity and conviction. A nice comeback from a rootsy '90s crooner.
Clinton Gregory "Roots Of My Raising" (Melody Roundup, 2013)
(Produced by Jamey Creasy & Scott Vestal)
Some artists and some albums take old songs and make them vibrant and new. That's the deal with this lively record where Clinton Gregory, a moderately successful 1990s country star, returns to his bluegrass roots and delivers this sizzling set of tunes drawn from the work of truegrass elders such as Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, along with some grassed-up versions of country oldies by folks like Tommy Collins and Lefty Frizzell. Gregory is totally committed to this album, to the lyrics and his vocals, as well as to his fiddling, so even if you've heard "Little Cabin On The Hill" or "Dark Hallow" a bazillion times before, this time around you'll hear it with new ears. Gregory leads a compact quartet with Doug Flowers on mandolin, Scott Terry on bass, and either Harold Roper or Scott Vestal playing banjo. They dig down into the livewire core of the old bluegrass sound, but with a subtle bit of country drawl in the mix... You can feel that this is music from Gregory's heart, and the fun he has playing what he wants how he wants comes through loud and clear. Highly recommended!
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