The Kendalls, the father-daughter duo of Royce and Jeannie Kendall, specialized in old-fashioned cheating songs and a high, tight harmony style reminiscent of the Louvin Brothers. They were one of the most notable acts in the mid-'70s to reach back into country's rich tradition on sweet, simple heartsongs. Perhaps only Emmylou Harris mined this field as well, but the Kendalls had their own special sound, bouncing along the curve of the melody, with a light, friendly lilt that made all their songs that much more appealing. After her father passed away in 1998, Jeannie Kendall embarked on a solo career. Here's a quick look at the Kendalls' career...
The Kendalls "The Best" (Ovation, 1981) (LP)
The Kendalls "Twenty Favorites" (Epic, 1989)
A mix of new, late 1980s, recordings along with oldies from their Mercury and Ovation albums...
The Kendalls "Sixteen Greatest Hits" (Varese Sarabande, 1999)
Great stuff! This is a top-notch collection of all their biggest hits -- the original versions -- a string of minor gems that began in 1977 (after nearly a decade of kicking around on the local level) and lasted well into the 1980s. It's a pity their actual albums remain out of print, because there's plenty of non-charting material that's not included here, but Kendalls fans (or anyone else that likes the kind of country they made back in the golden days of the 1950s) is well advised to pick this disc up. It's a goodie.
The Kendalls "Twelve Hits" (Varese Sarabande, 2002)
The Kendalls "Oh Boy Classics Presents The Kendalls" (Oh Boy, 2000)
The Kendalls "Best Of Country Gospel" (Madacy, 2004)
The Kendalls "20 Greatest Hits" (TeeVee, 2005)
The Kendalls "Great Gospel Performances" (CBUJ, 2006)
The Kendalls "Meet The Kendalls" (Stop Records, 1971) (LP)
The Kendalls "Two Divided by Love" (Dot, 1972) (LP)
Later reissued on Pickwick Records...
The Kendalls "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" (Ovation, 1977) (LP)
Originally titled Let The Music Play, the name was switched after "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" began to zoom it's way to the top of the charts. The song hit Number One; the album went platinum, the band had it made.
The Kendalls "Old Fashioned Love" (Ovation, 1978) (LP)
The Kendalls "Just Like Real People" (Ovation, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Brien Fisher)
Another fine album, with the Kendalls settled comfortably into a smooth, satisfying formula, which is surprisingly less "pop" than one might imagine. Jeannie sure was sounding a lot like Dolly Parton, though! Includes the so-so title track, which fell just short of the Top Ten, and the peppy, disco-tinged "I Had A Lovely Time," which hit #5 -- not a great showing for a band that was so strong coming out the gate, but still pretty respectable. What's most important now, though, is how well the album stands the test of time, and for true country fans (and Kendalls fans, in particular, this is a record worth tracking down... The rest of the album -- the stuff that doesn't make it onto best-of collections -- is better than the hits, and still sounds great today.
The Kendalls "The Heart Of The Matter" (Ovation, 1980) (LP)
The Kendalls "Lettin' You In On A Feelin' " (Mercury, 1981) (LP)
The Kendalls "Stickin' Together" (Mercury, 1982) (LP)
The Kendalls "Movin' Train" (Mercury, 1983) (LP)
The Kendalls "Two Heart Harmony" (Mercury, 1984) (LP)
The Kendalls "Thank God For The Radio" (Mercury, 1986) (LP)
This is a best-of collection, drawn from their four Mercury albums, recorded 1981-84.
The Kendalls "Fire At First Sight" (MCA-Curb, 1986) (LP)
The Kendalls "Break The Routine" (Step One, 1987)
The Kendalls "Twenty Favorites" (Epic, 1989)
A mix of new recordings, along with oldies from their Mercury and Ovation albums...
The Kendalls "Make A Dance" (Lonesome Dove, 1995)
The Kendalls "Love Is A Long, Hard Road" (Varese Sarabande, 1989/2003)
(Produced by Buddy Killen)
Their last album, an amiable set of mostly honkytonk heartsong oldies, with Jeannie Kendall shouldering most of the vocals. Nice, sweet, simple stuff that yielded a single lower-rung chart hit, but still a nice cap-off for their career.
Jeannie Kendall "Jeannie Kendall" (Rounder, 2003)
Country singer Jeannie Kendall, the daughter in the father-daughter Top 40 act, the Kendalls, takes a bluegrass-ish turn in this mellow set of heart songs, recorded with the help of Alison Krauss and Union Station, along with several other high-power friends. The songs are all quite well-written and Kendall's Dolly Parton-ish voice has never sounded lovelier. However, the by-the-numbers pop-grass accompaniment quickly gets to be a real drag... Particularly vexing is Rob Ickes' overly stylized dobro playing -- it's become far too much of a trademark and a musical affectation, a never-changing sentimental tone, mere filler that fails to match the real emotion in Kendall's voice. I understand why people respond to Union Station's muzak-y sound, I'm just tired of hearing it myself. Oh... back to this album: it's pretty good, in a sappy kinda way. The duet with Alan Jackson ("Timeless And True Love") is really nice, as is her version of Hugh Moffatt's super-duper weeper, "Jack And Lucy." Kendalls fans will definitely want to check this out.
Jeannie Kendall "All The Girls I Am" (CBUJ, 2005)
Hick Music Index