Georgia-born songwriter Randy Howard (1950-2015) came a little late to the outlaw party... Well, actually he didn't, since his first album came out in 1976, when things were really cooking. But that indie outing was pretty far off the radar, and Howard didn't really make his mark until the early '80s, when he made one of the greatest outlaw albums ever... Commercial success eluded him, however, and after many years, it was back to the indie sphere again. Sadly, Howard was killed in a gunfight with a bounty hunter who came to his house regarding a missed court appearance for a DUI charge. Country and outlaw, sure, but tragic just the same. Here's a quick look at his work...
Randy Howard "The Best Of Randy Howard" (Utopian, 2007) (CD & MP3)
As far as I can tell, this includes the original "hit" versions of all the songs off Randy Howard's two major label albums, 1983's All-American Redneck and Randy Howard, from 1988, both long out of print, as well as tracks off his indie discs. Sadly, though, so is this CD, so if you see it, snap it up.
Randy Howard "Now And Then" (Utopian, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Gibson, Randy Howard & Jim Hart)
Although he brashly proclaimed in this album's first song that "God Don't Live In Nashville," hard-country maverick Randy Howard still went to Music City to record this debut, and got a bunch of old hands to help in the studio. Larry Butler, Lloyd Green, Charlie McCoy and Bobby Thompson added a fat Nashville sound to Howard's lean, mean tunes. It would be a long time between albums, but this debut sure was a doozy!
Randy Howard "All-American Redneck" (Warner Brothers, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Hornsby)
A completely awesome country record. Howard took the '70 outlaw-novelty sound of Bobby Bare and Tompall Glaser and took it to the next level -- probably the best-known song here is the fab title track, with its deliriously delicious singalong chorus (heard both in its fully profane original version, and a slightly more radio-friendly edit on Side Two) in which he gets a barroom chorus to finish the rhyme, "He's got a pickup truck/he loves to ____!!" in a distinctly "Tequila Sheila" kinda way... There are several other overtly druggie/drinkie outlaw songs, such as the sly "Johnny Walker Home" and the bluntly cocaine-a-delic "My Nose Don't Work No More" as well as a nice version of Billy Joe Shaver's "I Been To Georgia On A Fast Train," and a reprise of "God Don't Live In Nashville," originally frm his first album. These are all great songs and the "hit" ratio of this album is pretty much 100% for hardcore twangfans, which frankly is about 75% higher than most of the records by the giants of the genre: if you like classic outlaw country, this record is a must-have. Howard also proves himself a fine sentimental singer with gems such as the forlorn, heartbreaking "Julie, I'm Getting Married" and "Atlanta's Burning Down," a Civil War-era drama about a Southern soldier trying to get back to his true love as the Confederacy crumbles -- it evokes the South, but not in a flag-waving, obnoxiously rednecky way. All in all, a great record. Track it down: you'll be glad you did.
Randy Howard "Macon Music" (Sweet Lake, 2002)
Randy Howard "Live" (Utopian, 2004) (CD & MP3)
Hick Music Index