Hillbilly singer Autry Inman (1929-1988) proved to be a jack of all trades over the course of his long and obscure career... He started out as a straight-ahead hillbilly honkytonker in the early 1950s, working in the bands of established stars such as Cowboy Copas before setting out as a solo artist in 1952. He cut a few sides on indie labels before getting drafted -- then, when he got out of the Army, Inman tried his hand at rockabilly and cut several influential singles, although commerical success eluded him and he dropped from sight for several years. His first solo album turned out to be a comedy record, and it was as a "blue" comedy artist that he made his second career, switching back and forth between comedy and music throughout the '60s. Although he failed as a charting musician, Inman was an excellent hard-country stylist, and his recordings are a treasure trove for fans of the style. Here's a quick look at his work...
Autry Inman "Country Love Songs" (Cowgirlboy, 1994) (LP)
Autry Inman/Jack And Daniel "Great Hillbilly Classics" (Binge Discs, 2006)
Ho-o-o-ly cow! What an awesome set of hillbilly oldies... I have a few chunks of vinyl floating around somewhere with Autry Inman on 'em, but nothing prepared me for what a kickass treasure trove this CD would be... These recordings, from 1949-54, are pure hard-country gold: uptempo novelty songs, sorrowful weepers, raspy twangtunes and proto-rockbilly from the hillbilly boogie era. This disc concentrates on Inman's first big contract, on Decca Records, and it's packed with gems, almost all of them originals written by Inman (or credited to his wife, Mary Drummond). It's truly a wealth of class-A, unpretentious, catchy, old-fashioned country goodness -- Inman had a singular vocal presence, like Hank Williams or Webb Pierce, that just leaps out at you, projecting energy and enthusiasm. The songs are great, too: my favorite is "Stop Stallin' (Start Fallin' In Love)" but straight weepers like "Does Your Sweetheart Seem Different Lately" and all the others are winners as well. The last half of the disc features duets with guitarist Floyd Robinson, who Inman collaborated with in a star-crossed duo known as "Jack & Daniel." Amazingly, none of this stuff really went anywhere -- Inman was just another one of those great old country singers who couldn't quite get a break. But those of us lucky enough to pick this disc up will treasure it for years to come. Highly recommended!
Autry Inman "At The Frontier Club" (Lakeside/Sims, 1963) (LP)
Although he had been recording country stuff for over a decade, this comedy album, recorded during a gig in the Kansas City area, was actually the forst LP released under Inman's name...
Autry Inman "Great Country & Western Singer" (Guest Star, 1964) (LP)
Note: the tracks on this album were reissued as the album "One Day At A Time," on the budget-line Mountain Dew label.
Autry Inman "Country Gospel: From The Heart To The Home" (Guest Star, 1965) (LP)
Autry Inman "The Riscotheque, v.1: Saturday Night" (Jubilee, 1966) (LP)
Autry Inman "The Riscotheque, v.2: New Year's Eve With Autry Inman" (Jubilee, 1966) (LP)
Autry Inman "Ballad Of Two Brothers" (Epic, 1968) (LP)
This Vietnam War-era patriotic album contains Inman's biggest hit, Bobby Braddock's "Ballad Of Two Brothers," a topically-themed recitation song, a duet with singer Bob Luman that went to #14 on the charts as a single. It's accompanied here by oldies and standards such as "There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere" and "Ballad Of The Green Berets," as well as contemporary songs such as "Stand Up For America," "Must We Fight Two Wars," "Vietnam Blues" and even the social commentary of "Skip A Rope." Strong stuff that tackled a lot of contemporary issues.
Autry Inman "Autry Inman" (Jubilee, 1969) (LP)
Autry Inman "Twelve Country Hits From Autry Inman" (Alshire, 1969) (LP)
Autry Inman "Studio 102 Essentials" (Studio 102, 2009)
Hick Music Index