The "twangcore" and "Americana" boom of today owes a large debt to the shaggy twangers and no-hit wonders of yesteryear, the stoners and rowdies of the counterculture who grooved on the classic country sounds laid down before Nashville sold its soul on the altar of countrypolitan easy listening. It was the hippies and weirdos who made country music safe again and -- more importantly -- made it fun. Some of their efforts were less than stellar, but many songs were sublime, and for years they were staples of freeform radio. Sadly, now that deregulation has made radio in America so boring and savagely stagnant, it's practically impossible to hear any of these artists on the air anymore. But you can still run to your local independent record store and ask for...
Jay Boy Adams "Jay Boy Adams" (Atlantic, 1977)
I mostly remember Texas-born hippie troubadour Jay Boy Adams from hearing him make a stoned foray into the studios of my beloved KFAT radio, way back in the late 1970s... He hung out, the DJ's obviously loved him, I'm pretty sure you could hear them toking it up on air... This album (which has one of the most depressing hippie album covers ever...) is an odd mix of acoustic folk and Southern rock, with guitarist David Lindley and up-and-coming singer-songwriter Jackson Browne chipping in... Definitely a relic of its time!
Jay Boy Adams "Fork In The Road" (Atlantic, 1978) (LP)
Jay Boy Adams "The Shoe Box" (Smith Music, 2007)
(Produced by Monty Byrom & Jay Boy Adams)
A strong roots-twang set with some great songs, sweet picking and plenty of conviction. The title track is a reflection on the pleasures of reflection and nostalgia, other highlights include the jaunty "Moro Bay" and "Showman's Life," which examines the unseen hardships of showbiz (which Adams, who left the spotlight to start a tour-bus rental agency, probably knows quite a bit about...) A good throwback to '70s-style indie-twang, with guest performers that include Ray Benson (of Asleep At The Wheel) and Marty Stuart on mandolin... Definitely worth a spin!
Larry "Jinx" Alexander "Riverboat Man" (Demon Records, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by David Johnson)
Terry Allen -- see artist profile
Duane Allman "An Anthology" (Capricorn, 1972)
A fine retrospective that spotlights the late Duane Allman's session work outside of the raucous confines of the well-known Allman Brothers Band. Besides the Southern rock and blues workouts, there are some sweet, acoustic-based gems such as "Please Be With Me," by the band Cowboy, and the Allman Bros instrumental, "Little Martha," which is an eternally soothing, mellow melody. Some of the funky roots riffs and slide routines have grown stale through overexposure and imitation (if I never, ever, ever, ever hear "Layla" again, it'll be too soon...) though it's still cool hearing Allman backing up the likes of Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and Clarence Carter... And as an historical testament to one of the finest whiteboy blues players ever, this is a pretty swell 2-CD set. If you're unfamiliar with his legacy, this collection is the place to start.
Gregg Allman "Low Country Blues" (Rounder, 2011)
(Produced by T Bone Burnett)
A rock-solid, pleasantly mellow roots-blues set from Southern Rock granddaddy Gregg Allman, who has seen his fair share of funky jam sessions in his time, often with a solid wall of rock-god guitars around him. This time, he's in a stripped-down, mostly acoustic mode, playing classic blues from the likes of B.B. King, Amos Milburn, Otis Rush and Muddy Waters, with a few more obscure songs in the mix and some original tunes for good measure. Underpinning Allman's B3 organ are the funky piano trills of Dr. John, and a host of tasteful pickers, including producer T Bone Burnett strumming on a tune or two. A very tasteful, tasty album, Allman's first solo set in thirteen years(!) and sure to satisfy his fans and old-school blues lovers everywhere. Definitely recommended.
The Amazing Rhythm Aces -- see artist discography
Any Old Time String Band "Any Old Time String Band" (Bay/Arhoolie, 1978, 1980)
This San Francisco Bay Area ensemble was one of the most charming -- and accomplished -- of the late -'70s string band revivalists. The 1996 CD reissue combines two LPs originally released in 1978 and 1980, and features their lovely version of the melodic oldie, "C-U-B-A," originally a hit for vaudeville star Billy Murray in 1920. The lineup changed between albums, but Kate Brislin and Sue Draheim were core members of the band, along with Genny Haley on guitar... and their sense of "old-time" music, including old-time jazz and Tin Pan Alley material, was right on the button. Very sweet and highly recommended.
Any Old Time "Ladies' Choice" (Bay Records, 1983) (LP)
Asleep At The Wheel -- see artist profile
Hoyt Axton -- see artist profile
More '70s Oddball Country Letter "B"
Hick Music Index