Marvin Rainwater (1925-2013) was born in Wichita, Kansas and made his name as a country headliner in the late 1950s, after struggling for years as a hillbilly artist in various regional venues. Rainwater broke through after winning the Arthur Godfrey talent contest in 1955 and recorded his signature song, "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird," two years later, scoring a major pop-country crossover hit. Rainwater enjoyed several years as a top artist until problems with his voice sidelined his career in the early '60s, though he remained popular in Europe and in later years he was rediscovered and celebrated by their rockabilly-retro scene. Here's a quick look at his music...
Marvin Rainwater "A Whole Lotta Marvin" (Jasmine, 2015)
This is a swell single-disc collection that gathers all of Marvin Rainwater's early charting singles from 1957-61, with country and pop hits on the MGM and Warwick labels, plus a bunch of B-side songs to sweeten the mix. Includes his duets with Connie Francis and various Indian -- er, Native American -- themed songs such as "Half Breed" and "Pale Faced Indian." It's the lesser-known tracks that might be most rewarding here... A nice introduction to a less well-remembered country star of bygone years.
Marvin Rainwater "Classic Recordings" (Bear Family, 1994)
This 4-CD set covers all of Rainwater's recorded material from his mid-'50s debut up through 1970, spanning pop, country and rockabilly material, and many of his duets with the likes of Connie Francis and rockabilly guitarist Link Wray. It's probably too much material for any but the most devoted Rainwater fan to digest, but for a look at this obscure (but fondly remembered) artist, this set is pretty hard to beat.
Marvin Rainwater "Whole Lotta Woman" (Bear Family, 1995)
Rainwater's most rockin' tracks, all on a tasty single-disc set... This is probably the best way to check him out, that is, unless you're a true, diehard fan... For the average country/rockabilly listener, though, this should do the trick.
Marvin Rainwater "Rock Me: The Westwood Recordings" (Bear Family, 2001)
A sad companion to Bear Family's other Rainwater collections. Here, a greatly diminished Rainwater recorded several somewhat limp recordings for a tiny British indie label in the 1970s. I guess it's great that Bear Family is there to track down and keep tabs on this kind of lost country lore, but if the truth be known, this is not really that engaging. Mostly the trouble is Rainwater's voice, which just ain't what it used to be. I suppose this material is interesting in a nostalgic-for-the-old-guy's-glory-days kinda way... But since Bear Family has already put out far superior collections of Rainwater's old, classic material, these third-tier later recordings seem pretty superfluous.
Marvin Rainwater "Tennessee Houn' Dog Yodel" (BACM, 2005)
(Available through the British Archive of Country Music website.)
Hick Music Index