LOCALS ONLY: This is a guide to independent and off-the-radar country musicians from the 1960s, 1970s and early 'Eighties, including hometown performers working in regional oprys, jamborees, dude ranches, casinos, pizza parlors and lounges. They included longhaired country-rockers, red-dirt outlaws, Nashville hopefuls and earnest amateurs, as well as the more country-oriented artists in the bluegrass and southern gospel fields. Many of these musicians toured nationally or regionally while others were strictly hometown folks. These are the people who are often overlooked in the history books but who contributed their talents, hopes and dreams to the country music world, and the aim of this guide is to keep their memories and their work alive. Comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.
Larry B "Sings His Greatest Hits" (Superjok Records, 1983-?) (LP)
This appears to be a comedy-oriented souvenir album by country DJ "Larry B," who cut this session with a guy named Jerry Bevis sometime (I think) in the early 1980s. Songs include "Planet Of The DJs," "We Still Love America" and "Red Neck And Rowdy." I'm not sure where Larry B was working at the time, but he seems to have continued his career through to the present day, and currently has a drivetime morning show at Classic Country 105.9 WNKR/106.7 WNKR, twin stations in the neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio, which was probably his stomping grounds back in the day.
Willie B & The Drifter's Caravan "Blue Kentucky Boy" (WB Records, 197--?) (LP)
The Drifter's Caravan band was formed sometime around 1965 by a bunch of American servicemen and several likeminded German country pickers, including steel player Rex Saxton and drummer Rocky Wesle. Singer Willie B. Tyler came from Kentucky and did several USO tours with the band before returning to civilian life, where he played military NCO clubs and other regional gigs, eventually landing his own TV show on station WBKO, Bowling Green. First airing in 1972, The Willie B Show featured gal singer Becky Sue Bingham, with Tommy Davenport leading the band -- Davenport had also played piano and guitar in the original European group, and stuck with Tyler when he headed back home. After Davenport and Willie B went stateside, the German band chugged along under the leadership of bassist Jack Scudder, while Tyler kept the American group together straight through the late '80s, according to message boards out in the hillbilly blogosphere. Mr. Tyler apparently passed away in 2013.
Don Bach "Yesterday & Today" (Network Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by W. R. Crighler & Leonard Shaw)
Singer Don Bach recorded the hit rock/rockabilly pop single of "Cheyenne" way back in 1961, a song he reprises here on the "Yesterday" side of this album, along with some other oldies, such as Carl Belew's "Three Cheers For The Loser." Side Two ("Today") showcases more contemporary material (though mostly pretty obscure stuff) presumably in a more mainstream country mode, although to the untrained ear there isn't that much difference in the still-pretty-stripped-down arrangements. Bach sounds more confident on the slower songs, reminding me of classic country baritones such as Ferlin Husky and Claude Gray, and struggles on the slightly more uptempo tunes. Nonetheless, the last song on the album is a real winner: Jack Barlow's "Rather Fight Than Switch" is a heartfelt anthem sung in honor of traditional, old-school country music, given a pleasantly goofy novelty-song feel with an arrangement that includes perky backing vocals by the Anita Kerr Singers. The Network label was from Des Moines, Iowa, though this album was recorded at Nashville's RCA studios, with both A-list and B-list pickers, including Buddy Emmons, Chips Moman, and Hargus Robbins. Overall, a pleasant, earthy album sung by a soulful old-timer who had a real feel for country soul.
The Bachelors IV "Sing Their Favorites" (1976-?) (LP)
A super-duper mystery disc -- no recording info, no names, no year or address, no composer credits, a plain white back cover -- but definitely some country stuff on here. The bachelors (whoever they were) are photographed in one of those fake old-timey studio set-ups, looking sorta wild west-y. But as to their identities? Your guess is as good as mine... maybe better. The set list includes "Bed Of Roses" and "You Can Own A Little Ground In Texas" -- not sure how many (if any) of these songs were originals by guys in the band. I'm guessing 1976 on this one, possibly through the catalog number (104067) which could be one of those backwards-date thingies.
Backalley Bandits "Back Alley Bandits" (London Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Chips Moman & Dan Penn)
One of those odd, only-in-the-'Seventies kinda albums, this is a mix of (some) twang along with amorphous AOR and echoes of Muscle Shoals soul... The band hailed from Atlanta, Georgia and got caught in the orbit of Southern soul auteur Dan Penn, who produced this album and provided two songs. with most of the others written by lead singers Larry Bowie and Thetis Sealey. The sounds are far-flung, though, and this doesn't really hold together that well as an album -- it veers from decently mellow alterna-twang ("Rainbow And A Pony") to fairly dreadful, loose-knit pop meanderings, including several numbers with female lead vocals that seems to take their cues from Linda Ronstadt or (to a lesser degree) Joan Baez. Larry Bowie I like as a lead singer -- Thetis Sealey and Penelope Webb, much less so. Regardless, there are a couple of songs on here that have a nice, legitimately country feel, though not so much that I'd say you gotta go run out and find this record right away. Might be of more interest to Dan Penn's fans than to us country folk. According to their Googlebook, the band broke up in 1979.
Back Pocket "Buzzard Bait" (Joyce Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Pat Robinson & Pat Maroshek)
A one-off collaboration with various Southern California pickers, this band was led by songwriter Pat Robinson, who wrote all the material and sang lead in an amiable, lightly nasal twang that occasionally takes on a fragility that's suggestive of Neil Young. Also on board were the core members of the early '70s country-rock band, Swampwater -- guitarist John Beland, fiddler Gib Guilbeau and steel player Thad Maxwell -- as well as bluegrasser Larry McNeely picking banjo, and drummer Pat Maroshek, who I think was considered the band's co-leader with Robinson. The music is light, bouncy, bubblegummy country-rock material similar to some early Eagles recordings or the airier side of the Byrds -- kinda lightweight and lighthearted, but decent for the genre and a fine example of what the twangsters were up to at the time. This band never really went anywhere, but the album's worth checking out if you're a big fan of the late-vintage Burrito Brothers, or just SoCal country-rock in general. (And dig the so-very SoCal liner notes dedication to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard... groovy, man!!)
Back Porch Boogie Band "Crankin' Up!" (Southern Star Records, 1981-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Hunter, Joe Spivey & D. W. McKnight)
A down-home twang band from Shreveport, Louisiana, featuring Roland Hall and Jim Buckelew on vocals and guitar, along with bassist Rick Hagler and Kerry Hunter on drums Dunno exactly when this one came out, but it must have been some time before they (temporarily) broke up in 1982... The group reformed (several times) has been together for years, well into the 2010s, and has self-released a CD or two in their time.
Backstreet Journal "Requests" (Robroy Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gaston Nichols)
An odd little album from Birmingham, Alabama... This quartet, led by vocalist Wanda Lee has the feel of a southern gospel vocal group, though at least half the repertoire is secular material, including covers of pop songs and countrypolitan hits such as Ronnie Milsap's "It Was Almost Like A Song" and Paul Anka's "My Way." They cover a couple of Statler Brothers songs ("It Was Almost Like A Song," "Do You Remember These") and one by John Denver, as well as an earnest reading of Bill Spivery's "Operator" (which was a 'Seventies hit for the Manhattan Transfer). Ms. Lee also plows her way into a milky rendition of "Crazy," though the most country bar-band sounding song is their frantic version of Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother" (mistakenly credited to Jerry Jeff Walker) a so-bad-it's-good novelty number which is probably the only really memorable track on this album... To be honest, this is a fairly painful album, with iffy vocals and sparse arrangements. I'm sure these guys must have done some live gigs, but there's no info about where or when that may have been.
The Backwoods "The Best Of The Backwoods" (Starr Records, 1977-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Casey & Marvin Jones)
A ton of original material by this band from Columbus, Ohio which featured two songwriters, Glenn Price and Jim Snell (1946-2020), along with a third lead singer, Debbie Cathell, as well as bassist Jim Higgins and veteran bluegrass picker Danny Milhon adding some sweet licks on dobro. There are two cover songs -- the Motown oldie "Heat Wave" and Captain & Tennille's "Muskrat Love" -- but otherwise it's all new stuff, like Snell's "Take Me Back To Ohio" and "Truck Drivin's Drivin' Me Wild" by Jim Price. Mr. Snell, who also worked as a local police officer and in the Madison County sheriff's department, started out playing rock music in the mid-1960s, notably in the garage rock band the Rolling Ramsaxs, which recorded at least one single in 1966 featuring a pair of Snell's early songs. Like all smart teenage rockers, he later switched to country music, and worked in a series of bands, including a group called The Posse, reflection his work in law enforcement. As far as I know this was the Backwoods group's only album.
Michael Bacon "Bringing It Home" (Monument, 1973) (LP)
Wait - what? - seriously? This guy was Kevin Bacon's brother? His older brother, the soft-rock songwriter and film music composer? The other guy in the Bacon Brothers band?? No... seriously... That can't be right... That's like... no degrees of separation!! Or... is it one? I was never totally clear on how that worked... Anyway, the Bacon brothers were originally from Pennsylvania, and while Kevin pursued an acting career, Michael went into music, including an early partnership with Larry Gold that resulted in an earlier album back in 1970. Really, he's more of a "pop" guy, but since his later album (reviewed below) had so many cool roots music dudes on it, I had to check it out.
Michael Bacon "Love Song Believer" (Monument, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Bacon, Rob Galbraith & Don Potter)
Okay, consider yourself warned: despite a promising array of twangsters listed in the liners -- Buzz Cason, Fred Foster, Larry Jon Wilson and Mac Gayden, and others -- this is a truly dreadful, overly-slick '70s pop album, evoking a summit meeting of Jimmy Buffett and James Taylor, slumming after hours in some Memphis studio. The songs and the arrangements and the entire general vibe are pretty bland and awful, overblown and underwhelming at the same time, and not much twang, even with songs such as "Texas Cowboy" and "Yodeling Sam." The only tune even halfway worth revisiting is the subtle, acoustic weeper, "A Simple Argument," but mostly this is a pretty skippable record. Really. Not of any real interest.
Badlands "Badlands" (Rite Records, 1979) (LP)
This short-lived Cincinnati twangband was led by singer-guitarist Chuck Foster, along with Bob Catron (lead guitar), John Meek, Sonny Moss, Danny Williamson, and Johnny Ellison. This group broke up when Foster moved to Nashville to back songwriter Bobby Borchers; after moving back to Ohio he and Catron formed a new group called Cheyenne, which became the house band at the Silver Saddle nightclub for several years in the early '80s. Lots of cover songs here, including "Every Which Way But Loose" and "Old Slew Foot," and the old country-rock standard, "Glendale Train."
Badlands "Badlands" (CMH Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by John Wagner)
A loud but fairly lackluster album with an interesting pedigree... The artless arrangements and blaring electric guitars are, perhaps, an odd match for the traditionally-oriented CMH bluegrass imprint, although picker-producer John Wagner and likeminded cohorts such as Mose McCormack were apparently trying to drag the label into the modern era, or something like that. This appears to have been an unsuccessful attempt by CMH to break into the world of commercial, Top 40 country. They seem to have been aiming for a sort of urban cowboy vibe, ala Johnny Lee, punctuated with some hot picking, but it never quite catches fire, and they never made it near the charts. The Badlands band included several talented musicians, including Zen Crook on banjo and fiddle, Jackson D. Kane (bass), Andrew Poling (drums), Jim Siegling (rhythm guitar) and Mark Siegmeister on drums... There's some hot picking on electrified instrumentals such as "Bad Axe Boogie," but lead singer Jackson D. Kane was kind of a dud, and the band had to slow things down to a sluggish tempo to accommodate his leaden phrasing. One track, a goofy novelty version of the oldie "Big Ball's In Cowtown," features guest appearances by Merle Travis and Joe and Rose Lee Maphis who were some of CMH's big stars at the time. This is worth a spin, I guess, but keep your expectations low.
Glen Bailey "First Edition" (Yatahey Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Bart Barton)
A little bit of a mystery disc, though some of the details are falling into focus... I'm not sure where Glen Bailey was from originally, but apparently by the time he cut this album he was living in Texas, and got drafted by Dallas-based producer Bart Barton (known locally as "The General") to record this novelty-heavy set of country-pop. The arrangements are a little prefab, and his vocals seem slightly insincere, but apparently that was good for the times, as this album notched up a couple of minor hits, "Stompin' On My Heart," which hit #87 on the Billboard country charts, and "Designer Jeans," which peaked at #85. (There's a mildly interesting backstory to "Designer Jeans": according to a Billboard column, it was written by a couple of guys in Australia who shopped it around Nashville and got a bunch of rejections, then repackaged it providing phony names and pretending they were American songwriters, upon which it was optioned by Barton...) I'm not sure if the is the same Glen Bailey who played East Coast gigs in New York and Maryland, circa 1976-78, as the disco/R&B act Glen Bailey & Circus... but I kinda think it might be. His country roots don't seem to have run all that deep.
Jerry Don Bailey & Allyx "One Little Cloud" (Dax Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Don Bailey)
Without doubt, this is a truly oddball indiebilly album. Bailey seems to have been from Russellville, Arkansas and recorded this album there, but released this album on the Houston-based Dax label. Apparently, he eventually moved to Texas (although it turns out there were an awful lot of guys named Jerry Bailey from Arkansas, so I'm not entirely 100% sure if I've got the right guy...) Anyway, this is a tinny, thinly-recorded set, a mix of Jerry Reed-ish raunch and spacey philosophizing, with a few really good honkytonk songs packed in the middle. Particularly noteworthy is a Willie-esque barroom weeper, "That Door" -- indeed, if you can overlook the weak-sounding production, there are actually some pretty good songs on here. By the way, you might be forgiven for assuming that "Allyx" was the name of some female backup singer -- it's not, though: actually that's the name of his band. Go figure. If you're into outsider art, country style, you might wanna check this one out. No date is given on the album -- anyone have more info about these session?
Jerry Don Bailey "Blacktop River" (Dax Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Don Bailey)
Razzy Bailey "What Little Bit That's Left" (Erastus Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Razzy Bailey & Bill Lowery)
Okay, so eventually Razzy Bailey did break into Nashville and become a chart-topping Top Forty artist... But that was still a couple of years away when this super-indie album came out on a label from Georgia. This disc was a transition from his earlier work in pop music, and even though he booked several top-flight session players (Buddy Emmons, Jeff Newman, Ron Oates, Bobby Thompson and others) he was kinda going for an outlaw vibe. But... wait a minute... Are there two guys wearing blackface on this album cover? And "afro" wigs? Uh.... guys? Hello?
Tim Bailey "Her Husband Says I Can't" (Sounds Of Country/Part 2 Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Shockley)
A honkytonker from Manhattan, Montana, Tim Bailey went to Nashville to record this album, with studio assist from pros like Jack Eubanks and Leo Jackson on guitar, Hoot Hester playing fiddle and Larry Sasser on steel... The material is all originals, presumably written by Bailey (although there are no songwriting credits on the album itself...) And it's really good. Some killer weepers and cryin' in your beer music, particularly the title track, which is a doozy. Recommended!
Al Bain & Kathy Bain "Together In All Kinds of Country" (Trackdown Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Alan W. Prince)
This husband-wife duo from Salem, New York started their recording career around 1970, cutting a couple of singles for the Nashville-based Chart label, although they stuck pretty resolutely to a regional base of operations in rural upstate New York. At the time they cut this album, the Bains had a weekly radio show on WWSC in Glen Falls, although they were also in the orbit of the WWVA "Jamboree USA" revue, down in Wheeling, Virginia. Fans of Bill and Delia Bell might appreciate their acoustic-based sound, which dips into country classics such as "I Fall To Pieces" and the Bob Wills oldie, "Roly Poly," along with songs by Johnny Bond, Roger Miller and Willie Nelson. Perhaps most telling are a couple of tunes from Merle Travis, including "Sweet Temptation," which was one of their signature songs. Al Bain played both banjo and guitar, while Kathy Bain wielded an upright bass; they are backed by drummer Bil Anderson and multi-instrumentalist Gary Blodgett, who led his own Blodgett Family bluegrass band and worked with the Bains for several decades.
Gidget Baird "Sweet Memories" (CCHB, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by John Macy)
I have almost zero info on this Colorado-based artist, except that her band included indiebilly Timothy P. Irvin of the group Rural Route 3, and based on the quality of his records, I'm guessing that this one's good and rootsy, too. Baird made it to Nashville by decade's end, singing backup on some albums and placing several songs with mainstream artists such as Janie Frickie and Charley Pride. She's relatively down-home on this early album, though, covering folks like Rodney Crowell ("Bluebird Wine") and Willie Nelson ("Crazy"), as well as Roger Miller, Bob Wills and even does a version of Jesse Winchester's "Rhumba."
Becky Baker "Becky" (Southern Heritage Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Boles)
Singer-fiddler Becky Baker was a protege of guitarist Jack Boles, who performed on the Grand Ole Opry, Hee Haw, and the Nashville Now TV show. Baker worked with him on all three shows, and toured with him throughout the late '70s, '80s and early '90s. She also starred in a series of commercials for Lone Star Beer, and released this lone(?) solo album early in her career. Includes "Happy Honkin', Honky Tonkin' Truck Drivin' Man." Anyone know what happened to this long-lost country gal? Or where she was from?
Baker DeCocq "...And Friends" (Mountain Music Company, 1982) (LP)
The Michigan-based duo of Bob DeCocq and Marshell Baker led this small band for about a few years i the early '80s, breaking up around 1984-85... DeCocq had previously been in rootsy groups such as the Houston, Texas's Shake Russell Band, the Country Line Band, and the TNS Blues Band, in the early '70s. Alas, this mostly rings false as "country" material, with more of a tepid, trying-to-sound-slick bar-band rock sound, too much blues, not enough twang, with fairly iffy vocals and lots of gratuitous, tinny electric guitar riffs swirling all over the place. A lot of the twang elements seems a bit forced or exaggerated to me... Worth a spin, I suppose, but not much here that wows me. Oh, well.
Johnny Baker "Songs Of The Rodeo" (Audio Arts, 1964) (LP)
In the 1950s, over a decade before Moe Bandy, Chris LeDoux or Pake McEntire hung up their spurs, Missouri rodeo rider Johnny Baker became, as legend has it, the first professional cowpuncher to devote himself full-time to singing rodeo-related music. This was his first full-length LP, with a brace of songs so packed with with rodeo lingo that they had to include a glossary with the album. Keep loose, but hold on tight!
Johnny Baker "Let Her Buck" (1965) (LP)
Johnny Baker "Rodeoin' With Johnny Baker" (1966) (LP)
Johnny Baker "The Rodeo In The Sky" (FF&S Sound Recordings, 1974) (LP)
Clunky, sure, but it's the real deal. Johnny Baker wasn't the greatest singer... or lyricist... or guitar picker... or humorist... But I imagine he was a pretty good rodeo rider, and he was certainly committed to his music, as his multiple albums attest. Though musically static, these tracks ooze authenticity, with Mr. Baker ruminating about various aspects of rodeo life while strumming solo on his acoustic geetar. Perhaps the funniest number is "Microphone Bandit," in which a rodeo announcer razzes Baker by saying -- over the PA -- that if that's how he rides, maybe he should stick to playing guitar. So, yeah, Johnny Baker didn't take himself too seriously and he certainly was aware of his limitations as a musician, but he plugged away and had fun doing what he was doing, and that translates pretty well when you give him a spin. Not exactly the kind of record you'd listen to over and over, but it's got its charms.
Penny Baker "God's Country" (Award Records, 1978) (LP)
In the early 1960s, "Texas Penny" Inman was on her way up in the country music world, having cut a single called "Cry Baby Heart" for the California-based Emmy Records label, and touring with Buck Owens just as his star was rising. According to an article reprinted on the back of this album, however, she found life in the alcohol and drug-fueled world of the honkytonks too draining, and finally realized that her love of music wasn't enough to sustain her. She got religion, got married, and moved up north to Tacoma, Washington where she renewed her country music career, this time as an evangelical Christian songwriter. Penny Baker recorded numerous albums, usually tucking a few of her own originals into the repertoire, and several of her songs were recorded by other gospel artists, such as gospel yodeler Buzz Goertzen. I think this was her first album.
Penny Baker "Country Roots" (Award Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Biff Collie)
The liner notes on this album tell us that her father Franklin Inman was a yodeler, while her mother, Gladys, performed on the radio in Baytown, Texas, and that Penny joined them on the air while very young. Sadly, there's no info about the musicians backing her, though Biff Collie's name popping up as producer sure caught my eye!
Penny Baker "The Old Country Church" (Penny Baker Ministries, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Penny Baker & Gary Duckworth)
Baker sings and plays piano on a set once again rich in original gospel material. She's backed by a local band that includes Leroy Briggs (steel guitar), Charlie Lee (drums), Roy Martin (guitar), and Paul Richardson on bass and synthesizer.
The Bakersfield Five "Buckaroo" (Alshire Records, 1969-?) (LP)
One of the more blatant rip-off records in the "soundalike" genre... even by the Alshire label's somewhat fungible standards. I mean, Buck Owens and his band were really a brand name, and Alshire really went out of their way to make this look like a Buckaroos album. Granted many of the (sadly) unidentified musicians on this exploito-album may have played in Buck's band at one time or another, and doubtless they were recruited from the longhair country-rock scene of the Palomino Club which fostered pickers such as Dennis Payne and Jerry Inman, although no one is identified by name on the jacket. There are a handful of Owens covers -- "Act Naturally," "Buckaroo," "Crying Time," "Tiger By The Tail" and "Together Again" -- but as is often the case with these cheapo packages it's the original material that may be of more interest. This disc includes several tracks credited to Maverick Music-BMI, though, alas, no specific composer credits. This we get several tunes vaguely in the Don Rich style: "Buckshot," "Dodad," "Someone," "Tool Pusher" and "The Whizer." If you think the California Poppy Pickers were groovy, you might dig this disc, too.
The Baldknobbers - see artist profile
Luke Baldwin "The Tattoo On My Chest" (Flying Fish Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Luke Baldwin, Tom Mitchell, Tony Markellis & Michael Couture)
A classic 'Seventies hippiebilly/outlaw album from a guy who was pals with latter day hobo-poets Utah Phillips and Bodie Wagner, and had David Bromberg and Jay Ungar jamming with him on this disc... Luke Baldwin was originally a Michigander, and like many folks of his era, he wound up heading West and was part of the mid-'70s SF Bay Area's music scene. Before that he was a politico and poet, doing draft counseling for college-age kids and other political work. He worked odd jobs during the '70s but eventually returned to school, getting a doctorate from Harvard and becoming an expert on literacy and childhood development issues. Folk fans may recognize Baldwin for having written the liner notes to Utah Phillips' Good Though album, and Mr. Phillips returns the favor here, lauding Baldwin as a hippie-era renaissance man and kindred spirit. As far as I know, this was the only album he recorded... I have to confess, his country persona sounds a bit forced, but I'd still be pleased to hear about any other albums he played on.
Ace Ball "Ace Colorado Country" (JB Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Little Roy Wiggins & John Nicholson)
Born Arthur Chester Balch, honkytonker Ace Ball was an old-school West Texas singer who worked in various regional bands and had recorded several singles as a solo artist before moving to Colorado in the late '60s. He also worked as a country deejay, notably for stations KPUB and KIDN, in Pueblo. Subtitled "...Ace Ball Sings Gene Bloomfield And Some Of His Own," this was his only full-length album. One side of the record was written by Imogene Bloomfield, while Side Two is entirely composed by Ball, who looks to have been an old-timer when this album was made. (Thanks to the Pueblo City Limits blog for additional info about this artist...!)
Earl Ball "Love Of The Common People And Other Country And Western Favorites" (Custom Records, 1968-?) (LP)
A cheapo, budget-line album by piano player Earl Poole Ball, who was working in LA at the time, playing at the Palomino Club as well as performing on the Cal's Corral TV show. Originally from Mississippi, Mr. Ball is one of those artists who, even if you didn't know who he was, has nonetheless been on your radar for years, playing on a ton of cool albums over the years. He started his career as a teen in the late 1950s, then moved to LA in the early 'Sixties, where he did a lot of odd small gigs, some of which turned out to be historic. Earl Ball played in the original lineup of Gram Parson's short-lived International Submarine Band, as well as in some version(s) of the Flying Burrito Brothers, and on the fabled Sweethearts Of The Rodeo sessions. He backed Wanda Jackson on one of her lives albums, played on a few Buck Owens tracks, turned down a gig in Elvis Presley's TCB Band, and made his way to Nashville where he worked throughout the 'Seventies as a producer and engineer during the countrypolitan era. His most high-profile and longest lasting gig was touring with Johnny Cash from 1977-97. Oh! And he also wrote "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line," Waylon Jennings' greatest-ever song, which in my book is enough to put up a statue to the man right there. Like a lot of the guys in the ever-changing Palomino house band, Earl Ball got roped into cutting one of these thankless, nondescript, semi-anonymous soundalike albums, in this case built around the 1967 hit, "Love Of The Common People," which had already been covered by a bunch of artists, including country star Waylon Jennings. The rest of the songs seem to be originals, and although there are no songwriter credits, I'd imagine a few if not all were written by Mr. Ball. In the late 1990s, with all that under his belt, he moved to Austin, Texas, where he snugly fit into the robust local scene, running his own band as well as the alterna-twang supergroup, Haybale, which also includes dudes like Dallas Wayne and Redd Volkaert. (Don't believe me? Check out his Wikipedia page, which blew my mind as well.)
Jim Ball & The Mountain Boys "I'm A Lonesome Fugitive" (ACA-Album Company Of America, 19--?) (LP)
A country old-timer who just kept plugging away for decades, Tennessee fiddler James Norman, aka "Jim" Ball (1916-1991) played in a number of hillbilly and mountain music stringbands, dating back to the pre-honkytonk era. On this album, which looks like it's from the early 1970s, be is backed by Roger Mullhollen and Roger Ball, and works his way through a delightful variety of styles, starting off with some Lefty Frizzell-ish vocals on "I'm So Afraid (Of Losing You Again)," moving on to western oldies such as "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds" and squeaky fiddle tunes such as "Cacklin' Hen," gospel tunes and even a raspy, rough-cut rendition of Tony Joe White's "Poke Salad Annie." Alongside craggy old-timey tunes we hear loose, rock-flavored, bar-band electric guitars, all suggesting a relaxed, wide-armed approach to musicmaking, which embraces bluegrass, honkytonk and jam-band music alike. Ball apparently cut at least one other album, though I haven't tracked that one down yet...
Lenville Ball "The Lord Will Provide" (1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Phil Burkhardt & Dan Burton)
A country gospel artist from West Liberty, Kentucky, guitar picker Lenville Ball was connected to the Renfro Valley Jamboree, joining the cast in late 1976. Mr. Ball was real country, and included plenty of twang on his records. Although billed as a bicentennial album, this appears to have been pressed in 1975... guess he was just thinking ahead! Several of the musicians on this album were fellow locals who worked with Ball on his other albums; on this disc he's joined by Dan Burton on piano, Dennis Herrell (bass), Chuck Rich (steel guitar) and Jerry Wilhelm on percussion.
Lenville Ball "I Feel So Good/I Saw The Light" (1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Phil Burkhardt & Dan Burton)
Lenville Ball "I Feel So Good/I Saw The Light" (1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Phil Burkhardt & Dan Burton)
According to the liner notes, this was Mr. Ball's fourth album... Anyone out there know what the other one was called? The title track, "I Feel So Good," was composed by Lenville Ball, while other numbers were written by Andre Crouch, Bill Gaither, Tom T. Hall, and Kris Kristofferson -- a pretty hip gospel set for the times.
Marcia Ball "Circuit Queen" (Capitol Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Neil Wilborn)
Although she's now known as a blues player, early on pianist and singer Marcia Ball was singing country music in the Texas outlaw scene, notably with the band Freda & The Firedogs. Her solo debut was an interesting mix of Emmylou-ish country twang, countrypolitan, and a hint of the New Orleans-style blues she came to specialize in, further down the road. The hallmarks of Emmylou's "hot band" crew are easily heard, from the production style (and accompaniment by Emmylou cohorts such as Albert Lee, Buddy Emmons and Rodney Crowell) to some of the repertoire (including a version of Crowell's "Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight"). This album won't blow your mind, but it's an intriguing footnote to Ball's career, and dovetails nicely with other records of the era. Worth checking out.
Larry Ballard - see artist profile
Michael Ballew - see artist profile
Bamboo "Bamboo" (Elektra, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Allan Emig)
An odd and intriguing footnote to the career of acoustic blues revivalist Dave "Snaker" Ray, who took a break from his gigs with Koerner, Ray & Glover to plug in and go electric, teaming up with a fella named with Will Donicht for a rock/folk/country outing that weaves through a variety of styles, including starry-eyed folk-rock and psychedelic blues, along with a smidge of country-rock twang. The Elektra house production sound(s) suffuse these tracks, bringing the work of cosmic balladeer Tom Rush to mind, as well as the Doors' zonked-out, indulgent rock... Twangfans will want to check out the tunes spotlighting pedal steel player Red Rhodes -- notably "The Virgin Albatross" and the spacier "Odyssey Of Thaddeus Baxter," which is one of the most musically rich, satisfying tracks on the album. This is definitely a super-duper, hippie-spacey set, with plenty of questionable moments, but some nice experimental stuff on it as well. Definitely worth a spin, though if you're looking specifically for country stuff, there's only a little bit on here.
Banana & The Bunch "Mid-Mountain Ranch" (Raccoon Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Stuart Kutchins)
A truly groovy solo album by keyboardist Lowell "Banana" Levinger, an original member of The Youngbloods... Here, he indulges a passion for old-time mountain music, ala The Carter Family, including a gorgeous version of "Ocean Of Diamonds." Levinger also cut an album under the name Noggins, but I haven't heard that one yet...
The Band -- see artist profile
The Band On The Barroom Floor "Recorded Live At The Gilded Garter" (Award Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Saalwaechter)
A very low-rent live album by a country/rock bar-band with strong bluegrass roots. This set was recorded at the Gilded Garter nightclub in Central City, Colorado, a faux-Gay '90s tourist trap that attained mild infamy for hosting a then-unknown Bob Dylan in the early 1960s. I dunno much about these guys -- their main instrumental ooompf seems to have come from fiddler Harvey Gossman and banjo picker Paul Bretz, adequate pickers who are showcased on the album's bluegrass-y first side, which opens with a torturously long run-through of "Orange Blossom Special." The second half of the record gets into a more rock'n'roll/outlaw country vibe, with clunky but sometimes charming covers of Waylon Jennings' "Are You Ready For The Country," Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," and yet another country-lounge cover of "Aime" (misspelled as "Amy" on the label...) None of these performances are really all that great, but the record oozes authenticity, particularly when you hear the singer try and cajole audience members onto the dance floor, or when you hear the applause echo out into what sounds like a rather cavernous space.
Bandera "Knights" (MCA Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Leon Tsilis & Pat Higdon)
A little-known Southern rock band formed by California-born jack-of-all-trades Lawrence Shoberg (aka Lore Orion) (1949-2013) who started the band while struggling in late-'70s Nashville. These guys tried to go national but fell short, despite signing with MCA and recording their lone album, which is pretty much just a rock record. There isn't much country in their sound, which is mainly build around shrill vocals, a sludgy rhythm section and Allman-esque twin guitars that rarely show a glimmer of originality or a distinctive tone. Fans of .38 Special or Rossington/Collins, et. al., might enjoy this rather workmanlike album, but nothing here really moved me. One of the band's principal songwriters, Lore Orion, was also a visual artist who apparently designed album covers for the New Riders Of The Purple Sage (as well as the one for this album) and also wrote children's books before concentrating on music. He had modest success pitching songs in Nashville, initially with a Top Ten hit for Bill Anderson in 1976 ("That's What Made Me Love You") and again after Bandera broke up, when Chris Ledoux and Tim McGraw covered a few tunes (though nothing that wound up as a single...) One of these songs, "Illegal," is on this album in its original form as a sort of clunky redneck reggae. All in all, a pretty negligible disc, but the iceberg-tip of a remarkable career. Footnote: although Orion wasn't actually from Bandera, TX, he did wind up moving there, following the "outlaw" trail to Austin and putting down roots nearby. Orion passed away in 2013; he also released a solo album under his own name.
Los Bandidos "Live At The Velvet Coach" (Little Crow Records, 1972) (LP)
A family band from Edwardsburg, Michigan who mixed a fair amount of country material in with Top Forty pop hits and easy listening oldies. The group was led by father Beto Guzman along with his three sons, David, LaDair and their drummer, nine-year old Chayo Guzman, who also played marimba. According to the liner notes Beto Guzman first formed Los Bandidos as a trio during the Kennedy administration; later it expanded to become the "Bandido Family," as seen below. Country stuff on this album included tunes like "Ghost Riders In The Sky," Hoyt Axton's "Never Been To Spain," Jack Greene's "There Goes My Everything" and "Snowbird." But country fans should temper their expectations: these tracks are balanced with covers of stuff like "Come A Little Bit Closer," "Brand New Key," "Yakety Sax" and "Spanish Flea." Honestly? They were definitely talented, particularly the guitarists, although their arrangements were pretty over the top.
Los Bandidos "On The Road" (Bandi Productions, 1974-?) (LP)
This one's mostly pop music, with not much country stuff other than a cover of "Rocky Top," and a few vaguely rootsy tunes such as "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." Kitschy, maybe, but not much twang. And, unfortunately, it does not include their topical, energy crisis-era single, 1973's "Eat Beans America Needs The Gas," or its B-side, "Belly Button Bounce." Oh, well.
The Bandido Family "Playing 'Em Our Way" (Ozark Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Buddy Lane)
The Guzmans seem to have moved to Willmar, Minnesota by the time this album came out, though they trucked all the way down to Missouri to record at the Ozark Records studio in Mountain Grove. Once again they mix country tunes in with pop hits; the country covers include "Funny How Time Slips Away" and a reprise of "Ghost Riders In The Sky." The most noteworthy track, though, is an original by eldest son LaDair Guzman called "Fuzzy Guzzies Funky Fuzzy Wawa," a novelty number that presaged his later work as a jingle writer.
The Bandoleros "Johnny Bush Presents The Bandoleros" (Bandolero Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Bush)
A "solo" album by the backing band for Texas honkytonker, Johnny Bush. The set list includes a bunch of well-known dance numbers: "Cotton Eyed Joe," "The Westphalia Waltz," etc., along with yet another version of "Orange Blossom Special"(!) Among others, this edition of the band features Rick Price on pedal steel and Ron Knuth and Hank Singer playing the fiddles.
Denzil Bandy "...And The Country Rock" (Johnny Dollar Productions, 1975-?) (LP)
A middle-aged factory worker from the rust-belt manufacturing town of Mansfield, Ohio, Denzil Bandy (1930-2003) was also a founding member of the Ohio Country Western Music Association and led his band, The Country Rock, for several years. This album opens with Bandy singing his own tune, "Factory Worker," in which he philosophically describes life at the General Motors stamping plant known as the Mansfield-Ontario Metal Center, where he worked for over thirty years. He sings lead on three of the album's songs, and hands over vocal chores on a few tracks to his guitarist Brad Bogner, and to family members Jerry Bandy and Ernie Bandy on a few tunes. Nothing fancy here, just a nice, earnest set with traces of the country-pop sound of the '70s, a few cover songs and some nice originals -- modest musicianship and a solid, down-to-earth presentation overall.
Moe Bandy -- see artist profile
Banjo & Sullivan "The Ultimate Collection: 1972-1978" (Universal/Hip-O, 2005)
This "best-of" collection is a clever forgery, one of the most entertaining biographical hoaxes since the exhaustive profile of psychedelic barbershop bandleader Norm Wooster... It's also one of the best vulgar hillbilly porn-parody sets since Chinga Chavin and/or Billy C. Wirtz laid down some wax... In this case, the gimmick is that Adam Banjo and Roy Sullivan were (supposedly) a marginal country act from the mid-'70s that met with a grisly, unfortunate end when a killer cult did them in (a tie-in with some Rob Zombie slasher flick, which is where the mythical B&S really comes from...) Alt-country stalwart Jesse Dayton provides the musical talent, writing, producing and performing the bulk of the album... and it's a pretty good set, with song titles that mimic the overly-complicated, pun-laden novelty formulae of 'Seventies country ("I'm At Home Getting Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed)," "I Don't Give A Truck," "I'm Trying To Quit, But I Quit Trying," etc.) The actual music doesn't sound that '70s-ish, but some songs are pretty fun... The Universal mega-label gets credit for going along with the gag and releasing this disc with a straight face as one of their "Ultimate" titles... (If they'd also released it with the same ultra-generic artwork as, say, their "Millennium" series, that would have truly hilarious...) Anyway, if you like mildly raunchy alt-country novelty material, this is a good record to check out. Heck, I may even rent the movie someday...!
Banjo Express "Country Music - Old-Time - Bluegrass" (Disques Pierre Verany, 1980)
Ooh, lala! Despite the flashy stars & stripes cover art, this disque comes to us from our friends in France, and is a pretty straight-up set of bluegrass and old-timey instrumentals. The banjo(ist) in question is Yannick Huet, joined by Christian Bon and Philippe Bon on guitar(s), mandolin picker Luis-Jose Landa, and bassist Pascal Maucourant. Not sure what the trajectory of this band's career was, though they do seem to have put out a record or two other than this one.
The Banjokers "The Banjokers" (Kelly's Ranch Records, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Vic Clay)
An all-gal acoustic quartet from Cleveland, Ohio, although if truth be told, only one of them played banjo. The quartet included Lee Alflen (guitar and vocals), Helen Baker (banjo and guitar), Avnie Bedrosian (violin), and Marie Lenz on bass. They had a long-running gig at a Cleveland nightspot called Kelly's Ranch, playing novelty numbers from a variety of sources. This one's almost all country material, including versions of "Country Roads," "Dueling Banjos," "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "For The Good Times."
The Banjokers "The Banjokers" (Kelly's Ranch Records, 19--?) (LP)
Same title, different album. There's not much country material on this one, outside of covers of "Orange Blossom Special" "Release Me," and "There's A Love Knot In My Lariat." Otherwise, it's all "Swanee" and "Have Nagila." Dunno how long this group was together, though as far as I know these two LPs and some singles were their sum of their recorded legacy. (This album may have come out before the other: anyone know for sure?)
Banks & Shane "Who Is It?" (Oblivion Records, 19--?) (LP)
An odd mix of bluegrass and jugband/Dixieland novelty songs, mixing spunky picking with goofy comedy routines, and an eclectic repertoire that ranges from Kenny O'Dell and Bob Dylan to bluegrass oldies such as Don Reno's "Dixie Breakdown," and the anti-billiards tongue-twister "Trouble In River City," from the film "The Music Man." These clean-cut longhairs became fixtures on the Atlanta, Georgia scene, playing at all kinds of venues (several tracks on this album were recorded live at a venue called Joe's Bar & Grill, in Atlanta...) and eventually starting up a restaurant of their own, and recording about a dozen albums over the years. The original group featured Paul Shane on vocals and guitar, Burgess Banks on banjo, Rick Waters on mandolin, along with a bunch of others... The humor's pretty strained, but they sound like they were having a lot of fun.
Banks & Shane "Live At Symphony Hall" (Oblivion Records, 19--?) (LP)
Bill Banks & Virginia Breeze "Happy... Sad... Good... &... Bad Collection" (ACM, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Nadine Rupert, Chuck Volpe & Jim Easter)
An odd project, spread out over several states... Bill Banks, pictured on the cover in bubba-esque glory with a sleeveless shirt and aviator glasses, sings lead and plays autoharp(!) for this Virginia-based band, which also included James Podgurski on lead guitar, pedal steel by Lyndon Strauff, Chris Strauff on drums, and Buzz Kenley on bass. They had a gig at the time playing at the Mountain House Restaurant in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, a microscopic pit-stop on the border near Mt. Airy, North Carolina, where this was recorded. Banks is credited with the music, though the lyrics are by his cousin, Nadine Rupert, who lived in Kingsville, Maryland, and who may have bankrolled the album. Not a lot of info about these folks, though, alas.
R. C. Bannon "Have Some R.C." (Aura Cee Records, 1976-?) (LP)
A lesser light in the glossy early '80s Nashville scene, R. C. Bannon had a few minor hits and recorded a handful of major-label albums, but is perhaps best remembered as the guy who married Barbara Mandrell's sister, Louise, and recorded a few duets with her. When this indie album was released in the mid-1970s, Bannon still a struggling local, doing bar band gigs in the Pacific Northwest, mostly around Seattle. It was recorded at the legendary Ripcord Records studio, but released on Bannon's own one-off Aura Cee label. All of the songs but two were Bannon originals, with covers of "Proud Mary" and "Delta Dawn" being the exceptions. Two tracks were recorded in Bakersfield, at the Buck Owens Studios, with Owens protege Mayf Nutter producing the session, and there's a real see-what-sticks vibe to the whole show. Bannon gets a little twangy, a little countrypolitan-pop, tosses out some novelty numbers and even a little bit on raunch, as on "Lucy Jones," one of those an-older-woman-taught-me-about-the-ways-of-love fantasy songs, in which our hero does some chores for the local widow but doesn't get paid in cash... (Is it just me, or is it a little warm in here?) Other standouts include "Yellow Haired Woman" and "Out Of Tune Love," which both don't totally hold together musically, but still grab your attention. You can see why this ambitious album worked as a demo disc to get him noticed in Nashville.
Richard Banquer & Friends "The Original Papa Joe's Presents..." (Original Papa Joe's, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Tookie Banquer & B. J. Johnson)
I haven't totally got a bead on when this came out -- it looks late 1970s, possibly early '80s -- but it's definitely a product of New Orleans. This appears to be a souvenir of a twangband that had a gig at the Original Papa Joe's, a now-defunct restaurant-bar in the French Quarter. Lead singer Richard P. Banquer (1950-2017) had some deep local roots: his mother, Cleo Banquer, is said to have managed the career of regional star Clarence Frogman Henry, and numerous local musicians pitched in to raise money for medical bills when Mr. Banquer fell ill in the 2010s. A lot of country oldies on here, as well as two originals penned by Banquer, "Good Bye New Orleans" and "Sometimes." His band included Sam Alfano on bass, S. A. Allen (guitar), Rhonda Bolin (vocals), Rob Haines (steel guitar), Dick Hughes (guitar, bass, accordion), Don Kendrick (drums), and Randy Rea playing mandolin and dobro. This may have been at least partly a pickup band; in the liner notes Banquer thanks a couple of local groups, the Salt Creek Boys and the Lucky Star Band, for their help. Not a lot of other info though -- in 2012 Banquer was a member of a NOLA group called the Southern Groove Band. Lord knows what he did in between!
Bar D Wranglers - see artist discography
The Bar J Chuckwagon "Volume One" (Bar J Chuckwagon, 1978) (LP)
Ava Barber "Country As Grits" (Ranwood Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Dean Kay, Mac Curtis & Bill Rice)
In the early 1970s, Tennessee-born Ava Barber became a cast member of the Lawrence Welk TV show, adding a little country twang to Welk's more sedate pop offerings... This gave her a built-in audience when she began to record for Welk's Ranwood label, and she enjoyed modest chart success from 1977-81. (Although the reverse may also have been true: being part of Welk's easy listening scene may have held her back when it came to courting favor with the insular Nashville music business...) In keeping with the Welk tradition of wholesome, cornfed, all-American entertainment, this album includes sentimental oldies such as "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again," "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," and "Remember Me (When Candlelights Are Gleaming)," along with some material of more recent vintage. The record was produced both in Hollywood and in Nashville, with Bill Rice producing the Nashville sessions; her next record was produced solely in California.
Ava Barber "You're Gonna Love Love" (Ranwood Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Dean Kay & Mac Curtis)
Her second album on Ranwood yielded Barber's biggest hit, a version of Gail Davies' "Bucket To The South," which peaked at #13 on the Billboard charts. Major commercial success eluded Barber, however, and following the cancellation of The Lawrence Welk Show, Barber embarked on a solo career, touring throughout the '80s, and gradually drifting towards the "mini-Oprys" that dotted the country music landscape. In the early 1990s, Barber co-owned a venue in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and eventually moved to Branson, Missouri to work in variety shows associated with the residual Lawrence Welk empire. She also apparently recorded a handful of indie albums, which I'll try to track down...
Ava Barber "All Time Gospel Favorites" (LP)
Glenn Barber "A New Star" (Hickory Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Don Gant)
A former rockabilly star from Oklahoma, singer Glenn Barber (1935-2008) "went country" in the early 'Sixties, scoring a few modest hits and eventually released a trio of LPs in the early 'Seventies. This disc includes one of his handful of Top 30 singles, ""Kissed By The Rain, Warmed By The Sun," which peaked at #24 on the country charts. The album is packed with original material by Glenn Barber, as well as couple by Gene Thomas, who wrote the liner notes. Barber never quite broke through, although he did continue to release singles through the rest of the decade, though always remained on the cusp of national fame.
Glenn Barber "The Best Of Glenn Barber" (Hickory Records, 1972) (LP)
Glenn Barber "Glenn Barber" (MGM/Hickory Records, 1974) (LP)
Burke Barbour & Troy Brammer "Bluegrass Western Swing Style" (Dominion Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Mullins & Rick Mullins)
Bluegrass + western swing? I'm in! Fiddler Burke Barbour and banjo plunker Troy Brammer were championship musicians from Virginia, backed here by Curley Garner and Garland Henegan on guitar and Robert Garner on bass. Apparently this was their fifth album album together, though I don't have any info on their other releases; Troy Brammer also released some solo work, and was in the gospel group of Jake & Fennie.
Rue Barclay "The Nashville Scene: Working Man Blues And Other Country and Western Favorites" (Crown Records, 1969) (LP)
This is kind of a weird and wonderful record, one of the unique byproducts of the fly-by-night ethos of cheapo labels such as Crown Records which issued innumerable knockoff albums alongside odd offerings by little-known artists like Rue Barclay. Unlike many such albums, this one doesn't highlight sketchy of covers of hits of the day: other than a cover of Merle Haggard's "Working Man Blues," the material seems to be mostly original, with kooky permutations of familiar country themes (boozing, losing, etc.) What makes this record really great, though, is its innate not-greatness: Barclay was best known as a bluegrass music producer, and was a dubious vocalist at best, his singing full of all kinds of tics and foibles. Consequently, the band behind him just kind of goes nuts, jamming and improving noodly rock'n'roll riffs like they scored this weird gig but they just didn't care how it turned out. Like many of these old LPs, the band was made up of unidentified, anonymous studio pickers and doubtless included some top country-rock talent - there's a definite hippie-rock undercurrent to a lot of their electrified twanging around. In short, this disc has a nice, so-bad-it's-good flavor to it, and it's definitely worth a spin, both for laughs and for genuine country twang. As seen below, Rue Barclay continued to perform and recorded at least one more album, although by that time he'd shifted to a less secular style.
Rue Barclay "Country And Folk Gospel Songs" (Christian Faith Records, 19--?) (LP)
The Bardeauxs "The Impossible Dream: Country Rock" (19--?) (LP)
Bobby Bare -- see artist profile
Barefoot Jerry -- see artist profile
Audrey Barger "Singing Songs Of My Childhood" (Sylvers Studios, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Common)
A bluegrass gal from Oxford, Ohio, Audrey Barger sings some great old tunes from The Bailes Brothers, Bill Carlisle, The Carter Family, Dolly Parton and others. Red Allen wrote the liner notes and says Ms. Barger is backed by "some of the finest Blue Grass musicians in Southwestern Ohio," though alas, they are not identified by name. Barger was apparently a full-time musician, and this was her first album; I'm not sure if she recorded anything else.
Tom Bark "Cosmopolitan Redskin" (Leprechaun Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Mike O'Neill & John Moseley)
Kansas City singer Tom Bark was a for-real Native American, so the album title isn't as weird as you might think... Over the years he moved through a series of local rock bands, although this solo album has a definite country flavor. Sure, there's scary stuff like conga drums and cowbells, but pedal steel player Roger Workman added some legit twang: he also played on the first album by the Jolly Brothers band, which is a KC alt-country classic. Most of the songs here were Tom Bark originals, including the title track, as well as "Mayes County Jail," and "Crooked Politician Blues" -- "Oklahoma Rodeo Queen" was penned by local folkie Dana Cooper a few years earlier.
Larry Barkemeyer "Looking Back" (LDB Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Barkemeyer & Michael Ailing)
According to his liner notes, Larry Barkemeyer got out of the US Army in 1971, and drifted around for a while, getting into music as a way to find solace... He says he started playing with some guys in Alabama, although he eventually headed home to Oregon, where he cut this album. It's country, for sure, although years later he cut a track called "Borderline," reflecting on his wartime experiences, a song that was anthologized in the massive Bear Family box set, Next Stop Is Vietnam. Here, it's all twang and drinkin' songs, tunes like "I Like To Drink Whiskey," "Wild Young Cowboys" and "Whiskey Lied," with backing from locals like Sue Blanton on fiddle, Stash Cook (harmonica), Greg Cornett (drums), Greg Estes (banjo and pedal steel), Willie Phillips (bass), Mick Silver (guitar), and John Sharkey on piano. One song, "Creswell To Nashville," pays homage to his Oregon roots, name-checking the tiny town of Creswell, which was just up the road from his home town of Cottage Grove, on the way up to Eugene, via I-5. Must be a nice place, because Barkemeyer returned there and continues making music locally, with his band the Huckleberrys...
The Barleen Family "Estes Park, Colorado" (The Barleen Family, 1980-?) (LP)
This family band started out singing in their Kansas hometown, but pursued music professionally after the family moved to Missouri and they became part of the Ozark Mountain country scene. Led by their father Lloyd Barleen and anchored by a trio of siblings -- Barbara, Brenda and Jeff -- the group moved from the proto-Branson world to their own venue in Colorado around 1979. This album commemorated their second season in Estes Park, with the Barleen Trio joined by Lloyd Barleen playing lead guitar, and Bob Barleen on bass, and Billy Bower chiming in on guitar. The repertoire is almost all covers, though one song, "Even Though," was an original written Brenda and Jeff Barleen, and various band members take solo numbers, including some guitar instrumentals. The album is dedicated to William Barleen (Lloyd's brother?) who passed away in 1979.
The Barleen Trio "Country Favorites With Curt Burrell" (Eye In The Sky Sound, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Randy Miotke)
The Barleen family's main trio of Barbara, Brenda and Jeff are bolstered here by the addition of singer-fiddler Curt Burrell, who married Barbara and emerged as a solo vocalist. By the time this album was recorded, they had been running their own venue in Estes Park, Colorado for over five years. Also on these sessions were steel player Donny Cook and lead guitar Gary Cook, who were in the live show as well. The Barleens recorded numerous other albums, though most came out as cassette-only releases.
Lorita Barlow "Cute And Country" (Justice Recording Company, 1966) (LP)
Teen singer Lorita Barlow was an ambitious gal from Lenoir, North Carolina who was only fifteen years old when she cut this album for a label in Winston-Salem, about forty miles away from where she grew up. It's packed with uptempo material, mostly hits of the day such as "Act Naturally," "Under Your Spell Again," and "These Boots Are Made For Walking," as well as the weeper "Put It Off Until Tomorrow," which was a breakthrough hit for Dolly Parton in 1966. There are also some older tunes, catchy classics such as "Crazy Arms," "Love Letters In The Sand" and Don Gibson's "Oh, Lonesome Me." After high school Lorita Barlow really went for it, initially doing some shows around Charlotte before hitting the road to try and break into the music business. Her biggest adventure may have been a stint with Tampa, Florida TV host Jim Foster, where she was on the cast of his Nite Hawks program circa 1971 while recording several tracks that were released on a compilation album as well a single or two. She also had gigs in Toledo and Detroit, where she was the subject of a pretty extensive profile in the Free Press in the summer of '72. Her last record seems to have been a single called "I Want You," produced by Jim Foster's pal Finlay Duncan, and released on Capitol Records in 1975. I'm not sure how long she kept at her music career, though she eventually moved back to Lenoir, married, and became a local business owner. As far as I know this was her only LP... Alas, no info on the musicians backing her, though they probably were the house band at the Justice studio.
Bryan Barnes & Phyllis Barnes "Just Us 2" (Lost Creek Records, 1976--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Wilcox, Clarke Wilcox, Bryan Barnes & Phyllis Barnes)
This one's pretty iffy. A lounge-a-delic hodge-podge of AOR, folkie soft-pop and country material, recorded in the Irving, Texas by the husband-wife team of Bryan and Phyllis Barnes. Includes songs written or recorded by artists as diverse as the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, Tom Jans, Jose Feliciano and Kenny Loggins, as well as two songs written by Mr. Barnes, "Road To Nowhere" and "Now You've Gone." On the country side of things there's a cover of the Ray Price oldie, "Crazy Arms," though really that's about it. The regionally famous Top 40 country band, The Shoppe, back the Barnes duo up on one track. Not 100% sure when this came out, though the most recent song on here that I could pin down is "Jive Talkin'," which came out in 1975... so maybe '76?
Bryan Barnes & Phyllis Barnes "Just Us 2: Live" (Lost Creek Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Bryan Barnes & Phyllis Barnes)
I think this was their second album, a live set cut at a couple of different venues, the La Pirogue Lounge in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and the Steak & Ale restaurant in Houston, Texas... By the time they cut this disc, the Barnes duo seem to have settled on a more explicitly country sound, but also veering into cornball comedy, as heard on their "Johnny Trash" medley and a cover of Ray Stevens' "Ahab The Arab." They also tip their hats towards Waylon & Willie, Neil Diamond and Linda Ronstadt," covering her 1977 version of Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou." Not sure what happened to the duo after this, or if they recorded anything else...
Don Barnes & The Countrymen "And For Our Next Request..." (Strings Records, 1974) (LP)
Another one of those singing lawmen that we know and love... Don C. Barnes was the Sheriff of Frederick County, Maryland for nearly a decade, from 1974-1982. During the same period, he also led a twang band called The Countrymen, playing legion halls and county fair gigs, also cutting several albums, at least two of which featured his wife, Debbie Williams.
Don Barnes & The Countrymen "Country Cookin' " (J.R.B. Sound Studios, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by John Barr)
Don Barnes & Debbie Williams "Nashville 709" (Strings Records, 1982-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Solomon)
Don Barnes was the sheriff of Frederick, Maryland, and also apparently a decent country musician, moonlighting as the leader of the house band of the local Silver Dollar Lounge, with singer Debbie Williams fronting his band The Countrymen. One of my honky-tonk heroes, Melba Montgomery, championed this Maryland-based duo, and got her husband Jack Solomon to produce their album. The record was sponsored by radio station WWEB.
Don Barnes & Debbie Williams "Yesterday And Today" (Strings Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Troy)
Kathy Barnes -- see artist profile
Tom Barnes "Don't Leave Me In The Springtime" (Barnes Stormer Productions, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Casolari)
An all-original set from Illinois, with a dozen tunes by songwriter Tom Barnes, with steel guitar from Bob Menard, lead guitar by Jack Poole Jr., and fiddle by George Portz... A lot of original material, though the best song title is "I Always Write What's Always Wrong."
Will Barnes "Texas Music In My Blood" (Armadillo Records, 1977) (LP)
Will Barnes "No Place But Texas" (Armadillo Records, 1977) (LP)
Will Barnes "Texas In My Blood" (Bear Family, 1999)
Alvis Barnett -- see artist profile
Bobby Barnett "...At The World Famous Crystal Palace" (Sims Records, 1964) (LP)
Bobby Barnett "Heroes History And Heritage Of Oklahoma" (Heritage Records, 1975) (LP)
Don Barnett & The Nu-Jays "Don Barnett & The Nu-Jays" (Brave Records, 19--?) (LP)
Bandleader Don Barnett was a regional performer from Illinois with a reputation as a hotshot guitarist... After recording several singles, he self-released a series of LPs with his group the Nu-Jays. These included a mix of country and surfy/garage-y rock, and a number of showcase instrumentals... I'm not sure, but I think this was his first album.
Don Barnett & The Nu-Jays "Just Another Good Time... At The Lake N' Park Inn" (Medallion Records, 19--?) (LP)
Home base for the Nu-Jays was a place called the Lake N' Park Inn, in Palos Hills, Illinois, where they apparently played for several years. I'm not sure when this album came out (no dates on any of his records) but from the fashions and choices of cover songs, I'd guess it was somewhere in the early-to-mid '70s.
Don Barnett & The Nu-Jays "Live At The Lake N' Park Inn, Volume Two" (Medallion Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Don Barnett)
This disc includes lots of country cover songs, with different bandmembers singing lead, including Barnett, as well as Lois Kaye and a guy named Jim Lauderdale who was apparently NOT the Jim Lauderdale we know, since the liner notes say this guy passed away during the making of this album.
Don Barnett "The Magic Guitar Of Don Barnett" (Medallion Records, 19--?) (LP)
Don Barnett "They Call The Wind Maria" (Ovation Records, 1976) (LP)
Mark Barnett "Opryland USA" (Nashville Album Productions, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Porter Wagoner)
Banjo picker Mark Barnett was a cast member at the Opryland USA venue, and musical partners with fiddler Mack Magala, who was a longtime member of Porter Wagoner's band. Magala plays on here, as well as other Nashville regulars such as Stu Basore, and Fred Newell... There are a lot of showcase instrumentals, also an outlaw tune or two, like "Luckenbach, Texas" and some scary stuff, too, like a version of "The Gambler" and Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are." A good portrait of real working musicians plugging away in the heart of Music City. No date on the disc, but my best guess is it's from around 1978.
Mickey Barnett "Country Hits" (Little Giant, 1965) (LP)
Mickey Barnett "...Sings The Hits Of Johnny Cash" (Hilltop Records, 1966) (LP)
Mickey Barnett "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Pickwick Records, 1967) (LP)
More of a folk-pop covers album. One nice touch: the liner notes consistently misspell Art Garfunkel's last name.
Mickey Barnett (And Country Road) "Folsom Prison Blues" (Design Records, 1967) (LP)
Mickey Barnett "Rainy Night In Georgia" (Design Records, 1967) (LP)
Mickey Barnett "Galveston" (Design Records, 1968) (LP)
Mickey Barnett "Orange Blossom Special" (Design Records, 1968) (LP)
Mickey Barnett "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" (Design Records, 1968) (LP)
Mickey Barnett "Sings 18 Yellow Roses" (Little Giant Records/Pickwick International, 1976) (LP)
Budget label singer Mickey Barnett recorded several el cheapo specials for labels such as Design and Hilltop, though oddly enough this one seems like it was kind of a real album, with original material, a visible release date and an actual single released off the album(!) Pickwick even assigned this to a private custom imprint... what was up with that? Well, I guess somebody thought that Barnett had paid enough dues to merit the deluxe treatment...
Joe Bob Barnhill "Joe Bob Barnhill" (Condor Records, 1977-?) (LP)
A native son from Turkey, Texas, Joe Bob Barnhill paid his dues in the 'Fifties rockabilly scene, knocking around with Buddy Holly, Buddy Knox and other contemporaries, playing guitar for sessions at the Norman Petty studios in Clovis, New Mexico before making his way to Nashville, where he became a notable songwriter, publisher and independent studio owner. Barnhill's biggest success may have been "Party Dolls And Wine," an early '70s hit for Red Steagall, though he's had several songs recorded by various artists over the years. Barnhill settled into the business end of Nashville, producing a bunch of mom'n'pop custom albums, as well as working with some middle-rung chart artists. He produced a string of albums for Canadian country star Dick Damron during Damron's mid-1970s outlaw years, wrote music with Steve Wariner, produced some late-vintage sessions with Hank Thompson, etc. etc., and even found time to record several singles and a couple of albums of his own, scoring a few mild chart hits along the way. His son, Joe Barnhill, took a swing at Nashville as well, recording a mainstream country album for Capitol Records in 1990, although his only chart success came with two middle-rung hits in the late '80s.
Joe Bob Barnhill "Stompin' The Standards" (RPA, 1977) (LP)
A change of pace here, with renditions of old swing/pop standards such as "Chattanooga Choo Choo," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "In The Mood," "Sentimental Journey" and the like...
The Barons "Featuring Smith Center Kansas" (Exceptions Studio Productions, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Randy Wills & Exception Studio Productions)
A vanity album from a foursome in Smith Center Kansas, a tiny town about ten miles away from the geographic center of the continental United States, near the Nebraska border. For my money, this is about as good a "private pressing" country album as you'll ever hear -- it's got exactly what you want in this kind of record -- pure amateurism, a distinctive local flavor, sincerity and enthusiasm, and an original novelty song about hippies getting beaten up by war veterans. That last one would be the album's opener, "The Smith Center Kansas Moratorium Day Rock Festival Car Race And Barn Dance," a timeless tune ripely deserving of compilation or reissue. It in, all the locals (and maybe a few long-haired out-of-towners) get together for a big party and parade, but when one of the freaks starts getting all, "no more war!" a World War One veteran bops him over the head with his cane, and eventually life gets back to normal, albeit without those pesky hippie oddballs. Along the way, songwriter Jim Fetters also manages to take a few digs at lawyers and judges, expressing a bit of that good old Midwestern libertarian spirit. Fetters was the band's guitarist, and the liner notes inform us he "uses his music as his hobby," which was doubtless true of the rest of the guys. All the other songs are cover tunes, ranging from "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" and "City Of New Orleans" to "Good Hearted Woman" and "Please Mister Please," and all delivered with a clunky, see-the-gears-turn simplicity which I find very, very appealing.
Tim Barrett "I've Done Some Thinkin' " (Belmont Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by John Penny & Fred Mueller)
New England troubadour Tim Barrett was born in Maine, moved to Massachusetts, and performed regionally for many years, including gigs at the Lone Star Ranch in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire. This was his first album, recorded with the help of Boston twangster John Penny, and is packed with originals, with three songs written by Tim Barrett and two by Richard E. Long. There are also some cover tunes, including versions of "Rocky Top" and "Me And Bobby McGee."
Tim Barrett "Dreaming Of You" (1986)
Tim Barrett "It's A Matter Of Time" (1992) (CD)
J. J. Barrie "Did I Forget To Say Thank You?" (Power Exchange Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Shel Talmy)
Lonnie Barron "In Memorial To Lonnie Barron: Country Music Star" (Crown Records, 1963) (LP)
Although sometimes referred to as the "Michigan Elvis," Lonnie Barron (1931-1957) actually grew up in Mississippi and while he definitely had a rock'n'roll flair, he was much more of an unreconstructed country boy, as heard on this budget-line collection. Barron hit the airwaves and the country charts in the mid 1950s, after he was discharged from the Air Force and settled down in Marine City, Michigan. He'd already built up a regional following in the Midwest and was a rising star on the national stage when he was shot to death in his home early in 1957, apparently by a jealous husband whose wife was a fan of the hillbilly star. This disc collects several of Barron's recordings for the Sage & Sand label, whose catalog was absorbed into the Crown Records cheapo empire. It's great stuff, though the sound quality is a little iffy -- some tracks have popped up on various compilations over the year, though this seems to be the most readily available source of Barron's work. It's not clear that all the tracks are by Barron, though: fiddler Casey Clark played on Barron's earliest singles and apparently licensed Barron's master to Crown in the early 'Sixties, along with some of his own material. Singer Evelyn Harlene cut a few sides with Clark that was released on Sage Records after Barron's death, though I don't think she actually worked with him, and her tracks seem to be added to pad out the LP, as per usual with Crown's ever-sketchy productions.
Len Barrow "Hades Highway" (Yanden Records, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Harold Rushing, Jim Yancey & Rick Shea)
Not a ton of info about Len Barrow out there, although he seems to have been from Memphis and is often (and perhaps incorrectly) pegged as a rockabilly artist, which helps make his records that much more collectable. The title track on this album is a supernatural-themed trucker tune with a loping beat punctuated by the same guitar thwack that Dave Dudley used on "Six Days On The Road." The song was reissued on the novelty country compilation, Hillbillies In Hell, which also raised Barrow's profile. Like most of the tracks, "Hades Highway" is credited to songwriter Bob Moore, which may well have been Barrow's real name. Although he remained an obscure local artist, Len Barrow continued to cut singles well into the 1970s, including one for the Stop label, and one of his songs, "Knights Of The Road," was released as a single by both Len Barrow and by a guy named Stan Lewis.
The Jeff Barry Band "North To Carnarvon" (World Custom/JB Records, 1980) (LP)
Can't tell you much about this Canadian band, other than it's a self-released album, packed mostly with oldies like "Crazy Arms," "Blue Kentucky Girl" and "When The Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again," as well as a nod to Northern fiddle tunes and a version of Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville." One song, "Be My Lady," seems to be an original, written by Rick McLarnon.
Joe Barry "Joe Barry" (ABC-Dot, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Huey P. Meaux)
A veteran performer from the Louisiana music scene, Barry worked as a producer and session player alongside Mac ("Dr. John") Rebennac and performed with musicians such as Clarence Henry and Smiley Lewis, Bobby Bland and T-Bone Walker, and was one of the first artists to record for the Smash label in the early '60s. He had been retired for several years when Huey P. Meaux asked him to record this album, which is a mix of country and R&B songs and styles.
The Bars Ferry Band "Bars Ferry Band" (Kar Wood Records, 1984-?) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Maddox & The Bars Ferry Band)
Wasn't able to find out much info about these guys, a twangy bar band from Tupelo, Mississippi who were the house band at a place called the Niteliter Bar. The group included Johnny Wigginton (vocals and guitar), Jim Roby (vocals, steel), Tommy Horton (drums), Dean Koon (vocals, rhythm guitar), Jimmy Kreson (keyboards), and Gary Chandler (bass) with backup vocals by the Shoal Sisters (Muscle Shoals studio pros Ava Aldridge, and others) along with the Cates Sisters... Apparently Jim Roby was still playing gigs around Tupelo as late as 2000 or so...
Jimmy Bass "In My Heart" (Tidings Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Pat Patrick & Jimmy Bass)
Christian crooning and spiritual musings with a definite country backing... nice steel guitar, etc., and a brightly produced early 'Seventies Nashville vibe. Overall, this one didn't do much for me, though it is a well-produced record and pretty good for the style. Outside of some gospel standards, most of the tunes are Jimmy Bass originals, along with one song each by Larry Norman and James McGranaham -- no info on the backing band, alas, though this was recorded in Nashville.
Steve Bateman "Someday" (Amherst Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Vic Clay & Larry Ratliff)
A surprisingly strong set, with several memorable songs. Though originally from Louisiana and Texas, Bateman seems to have been living in upstate New York when he cut this album... It's a nice, self-assured set of gentle, reflective country-pop, all originals except for a couple of so-so Beatles covers ("I've Just Seen A Face" and a bluesy spin on "Drive My Car") with a good band providing down-to-earth backing. Bateman's vocals remind me of Dick Feller -- not a resonant singer, but appealing and good at conveying his lyrics. He seems to have used several different publishers, including a couple of songs credited to Crazy Cajun, so I'd guess he was in Huey P. Meaux's orbit for a while... Anyway, I like his songs. Bateman has a good sense of songcraft and his tunes are all catchy and intriguing, in an odd, slightly off-center way, with subtle but effective hooks. Some seem more commercially viable than others, notably "Full House" and "Stronger Than You Think," but really I like 'em all. Too bad the musicians aren't identified -- the steel player in particular provides some great accompaniment.
Skip Battin "Skip" (Signpost Records, 1972)
Bassist Clyde "Skip" Battin made his mark as a core member of several early-'70s lineups of the Byrds, and kept up his country-rock bona fides as a member of the equally fluid New Riders of the Purple Sage and Flying Burrito Brothers. This was Battin's solo debut, an oddball cosmic country-rock album, with contributions from guitarist Clarence White and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. The musical end I like, though I can't say I'm a fan of Battin's vocals, which make it hard to really enjoy the record as such. Battin worked frequently with LA scenester and rock uber-weirdo Kim Fowley, and Fowley helped shape this album in his own unique way.
Skip Battin "Topanga Skyline" (Floating World Records, 2012)
(Produced by Kim Fowley)
Originally recorded in 1973, this would turn out to be Battin's great "lost album," a session booked with the progressive bluegrass band Country Gazette, along with pedal steel player Al Perkins. The project was apparently ill-starred, as it was scheduled for just days after the tragic death of guitarist Clarence White, a friend and collaborator of Battin's as well as the brother of the Gazette's Roland White, who was injured in the same automobile accident that killed Clarence. Despite all the bad karma, they went ahead and recorded the album, but it stayed in the vaults for almost thirty years; the 2012 CD release also includes some bonus tracks from an album recorded years later with Kim Fowley...
The Battle Creek Boys "Battle Creek Breakdown" (1978) (LP)
(Produced by The Battle Creek Boys & Nick Melnick)
A band from Minneapolis, performing mostly covers, including some Hank Williams, Bob McDill's "Amanda," Paul Siebel's "She Made Me Lose My Blues" and a couple of old Sons Of The Pioneers tunes. Lead singer Robert Gaboury wrote a pair of originals, "Country Rockin' Night" and "Battle Creek Breakdown." Anyone have more info about these guys?
Darlene Battles "I Just Want To Love You" (Bejay Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Mickey Moody)
Born in Wynne, Arkansas, singer Darlene Battles sang backup gigs in Nashville throughout the late 60s and married country/R&B singer Jerry Jaye in the early '70s, working with him on numerous projects. She recorded this solo album with Jaye and his band backing her up, including steel guitar player (and label owner) Ben Jack, Darrell Price plunking piano, and Curly Lewis on fiddle. This was Darlene Battles only solo album as a secular artist -- she got religion in 2003 and has since recorded several gospel albums, both under her own name and with the band On Call...
Chuck Baxter "Chuck 'N' Country" (Kwik Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Mike St. Clair)
I go back and forth on this one... Overall, Nashville native Chuck Baxter is an appealing character with a good-natured presence, although it must be said that he does best on uptempo, novelty-oriented material -- when he croons on ballads, it can be pretty painful. The best numbers on here are the album's opener, "Harold's Super Service," a perky number about a guy stuck in a schlumpy job at a podunk gas station, and "Food Stamp Blues," which is kind of a nutty anti-welfare song where some guy keeps going to the county courthouse and giving false names without being asked for ID, and rakes in so much bogus welfare that he is able to buy an eleven-room mansion "with a TV in every room." Because that happens, right? (He sounds a little like Hoyt Axton on that song; elsewhere singers such as Dave Dudley, Ernie Ford and Jim Reeves come to mind...) On the flip side, though, are the slow songs, and his covers of "You Gave Me A Mountain" and "Statue Of A Fool" are truly catastrophic, with Baxter painfully searching for the high notes, and failing spectacularly. Nonetheless, I like this record, and not for sneery, make-fun-of-the-rube reasons -- these sessions had heart, and again, on the uptempo tracks he ain't bad. Unfortunately there's no information about the backing musicians, though the musicianship throughout is consistently good. Also no info on when or where this was made -- from the photos on the back, I'd guess late '70s, early '80s -- possibly 1984, based on the matrix number, NR-11284. The liner notes do say that Baxter was working "on the business side of country music," with a publishing company and record label, although they might have just been talking about this album. At any rate, I thought this was another nice example of a modestly talented, normal guy making a record of music for fun.
Huck Baxter "Six Days On The Road" (K-Ark Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by John Capps)
Harold "Huck" Baxter was a singer from Peekskill, New York, a working-class guy who started his own band in 1960, after he got out of the Army. He headed down to Nashville to record this set of country covers, presumably with a professional studio crew. Sadly, the musicians aren't listed, but it was a pretty solid group, albeit with a light touch -- half countrypolitan smooth, half, hey, we're all paid by the hour. But there's definitely plenty of twang, particularly on the Dave Dudley title track... For the most part, I like Baxter's vocals, although he gets a little wobbly on the high notes. What's most interesting, though, is how he sings with a distinctly Eastern accent, very smooth, generic "TV voice," with little or no trace of Southern affectations. Crooners like Hank Locklin or Jim Reeves come to mind, although Mr. Baxter does show some rough edges when he wants to. Most of the material is of mid-to-late '60s vintage, including versions of "Green, Green Grass Of Home," and Buck Owens' 1964 hit, "Hello Trouble," as well as Bobby Austin's "Apartment No. 9." However, this is definitely an early '70s album, since it also includes Merle Haggard's "The Fightin' Side Of Me," which climbed the charts in 1970. I think my favorite part of this whole LP, though, is the part in the liner notes where he is described as "red-haired, blue-eyed and single," and tells you about his favorite hobbies (cooking, etc.) Aw, shucks!
Rick Baxter "Cowboy's Dream" (Circle B Records, 19--?) (LP)
A western (cowboy) oriented souvenir album from the Circle B Ranch, near Rapid City, South Dakota, the same venue that hosted fiddler C. W. Anderson... The album sports remarkably barebones graphics, and sparse info as well, other than the song titles and address. The songs are pretty standard fare, covers of "Back In The Saddle," "Have I Told You Lately," "Wayward Wind," et. al. Not sure when this came out, though from the looks of it it could be anywhere from the mid-1960s to the early '70s.
The Baxters "The Baxters" (RMD Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Wild & The Baxters)
The Baxter brothers -- Duncan, Mark and Rick -- originally were child performers in a 1960s North Carolina gospel harmony group called the Baxter Family, which also included several of their sisters... In the late '70s the guys decided to try their hand at secular country, inspired by the success of harmony-oriented groups such as the Bellamy Brothers and the Oak Ridge Boys... This early '80s album is mainly cover tunes, including versions of contemporary hits such as John Anderson's "Swingin'," and David Frizzell's "I'm Gonna Hire A Wino To Decorate Our Home," along with standards like "Rocky Top" and "Orange Blossom Special," as well as the hippie rock anthem, "Teach Your Children." I think they also worked as backup musicians for folks like Eddy Raven and Conway Twitty, who they thank in the liner notes, as well as Duane Allen on the Oak Ridge Boys, who contributed the liner notes. Two songs, "Headed Right (For The Wrong Kind Of Love)" and "Hurt" might have been originals, though there are no song credits on the album.
Baywood "Baywood" (Bison, 1981) (LP)
This 5-song EP showcased the early work of a short-lived but ambitious indiebilly band who I believe were from California.
Baywood "Live At The Palomino, '81" (Little Wheel Music, 2008) (CD & MP3)
Issued nearly 30 years after the fact, this fine live album captures an unusually accomplished indie-twang band playing their hearts out in one of LA's premier rock clubs. The band is pretty tight, executing some ambitious country-rock/AOR riffs and complex harmonies -- stuff that echoes the Southern California pop style of the mid-1970s, though perhaps a bit dated by '81. You could really almost imagine them making it big, except that, if the truth be told, the vocals hold them back. Their lead singer was clearly the driving force behind this band, but his gangly, unconventional vocal timbre makes this an un-commercial offering, even though it's also an excellent example of just how polished and skillful these local bands could become, while still hovering on the edge of success. Worth checking out, especially for the wealth of original material.
Beacon City Band "Beacon City Band" (Potato Satellite Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by John Hill & Laurie Hill)
This scruffy acoustic twangband from Gruene, Texas featured Roland Denney (bass), Denice Franke (vocals, guitar), Douglas W. Hudson (mandolin, guitar), and David Wright (vocals, guitar, and harmonica). About half the songs were written by David Wright, with one more from Denice Franke, along with a cover of an old Nanci Griffith song, "West Texas Sun," just for good measure. Years later, Franke would perform on several of Griffith's best-known albums, as well as releasing several albums of her own. Like Griffith, these guys were coming at their music from a fairly folkie vantage point, with flowery-but-not-cloying guitar picking and achingly emotive vocals. Fans of Townes Van Zandt, perhaps, might really dig this one.
Beacon Street Union "Beacon City Band" (MGM Records, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Wes Farrell & Val Valentin)
A minor country-rock footnote: Beacon Street Union was a rock band from Boston's psychedelic ballroom scene, featuring singer John Lincoln Wright, who later established himself as a local alt-country pioneer. Mostly this is eclectic, frenetic, treble-icious, electrified hippie rock with kooky, super-stoned, drugged-up lyrics and nutty arrangements. Creative, but a little annoying... If you dig the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, this might wow you. There is only one song that really fits into the country continuum, and hints at Wright's future career in twang, an uncredited swipe of Willie Nelson's "Night Life," retitled "Sportin' Life," with copyright claimed by the band. Other than that. not a lot for twangfans here.
The Bean 'Oller Band "Knockin' On The Back Door" ('Oller Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Tim Carrabine, Marc Snider & Bean 'Oller)
Some clean-cut lads from Columbus, Ohio with a mix of cover songs and originals, including four songs written by lead singer Mike O'Brien: "Don't Wanna Hear It Breakin'," "Gone Tomorrow," "Singin' In The City" and "Whispering Winds." Interesting choices in cover material, too, ranging from "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues" to "Rocky Raccoon," and Crystal Gayle's "Ready For The Times To Get Better." The band -- which included bassist Steve Kraus, Jim Leake (harmonica and vocals), Dan Miller (guitar and vocals), Mike O'Brien (guitar and vocals) and Kim Tranchita on drums -- seems to have been the house band at a place called the Back Door Lounge, which gets thanked in the liner notes.
Bear Creek "Bear Creek" (Le Fevre Sound, 1976) (LP)
A long-lost band from Georgia, playing mostly bluegrass(?) as well as a cover of Dylan's "Simple Twist Of Fate." Anyone have more info about these folks?
The Bear Spot "At The Grist Mill Inn" (Century Records, 19--?) (LP)
A real mystery disc from Northern California. This seems to be a celebration of the Grist Mill Inn, a restaurant in the secluded Sonoma County hamlet of Glen Ellen. The Grist Mill site was host to a long string of restaurants and night spots; this album's remarkably uninformative liner notes mention that the musicians were celebrating the tenure of owners Craig Murry and Judy Murray, who seem to have given up management of the Inn by the time this album was made. Anyway, it's an odd record. There is some canonically "country" material on here, such as a version of "Mr. Bojangles," though also covers of pop tunes like "Piano Man" and "If I Were A Rich Man," giving this a more deliberately lounge-scene orientation. I'll keep you posted. This seems to have come out around 1974-75, or thereabouts... The musicians are not identified, alas, although I do wonder if "The Bear Spot" band was a permutation of local Sonoma County band, Beargrease, led by Michael Hansen (1948-2016). It's a theory, though one which has not yet been verified.
Cody Bearpaw "Cody Bearpaw" (Broadland Records, 1978) (LP)
Known as "the all-around Indian Cowboy," rodeo rider and stunt actor Cody Bearpaw was a full-blooded Canadian Cree who grew up around Alberta. Known for his work in various 'Seventies TV shows and movies, he also tried his hand at country music, as heard on this album, as well as a single he cut for Dot Records sometime in the early '70s. The album includes three originals by Bearpaw -- "All Around Indian Cowboy," Winter Love," and "Let It Shine" -- as well as a couple of tunes apiece written by Jerry Abbott and Bobby Ray Spears, along with a version of Henry Briggs' "Miss Pauline." As far as I know, this was his only full LP.
William Beasley "What's He Doing In My World" (Modern Sound, 1965-?) (LP)
(Produced by William Beasley)
A "solo" set by William D. Beasley, co-owner of the Nashville-based cheapie label, Hit Records, which also included the Modern Sound imprint. This disc was a soundalike album including covers of hits of the day such as "Girl On The Billboard" and Eddy Arnold's "What's He Doing In My World," though most of the other tracks seem to be originals. Alas, the musicians backing Beasley aren't identified, nor the songwriters, but like other Modern Sound releases this may have a wealth of unsuspected, anonymous Music City talent.
Beau Brummels "Bradley's Barn" (Warner Brothers, 1968)
(Produced by Lenny Waronker)
A groovy country-tinged set from one of San Francisco's great garage-pop bands of the mid-1960s... This was the last album the group recorded in the '60s, as their hitmaking days faded and the group began drifting apart. Singer Sal Valentino guitarist Ron Elliott were essentially the only original members left, and they headed to Nashville to see if the Music City way of doing things would work for them. The duo booked sessions at Owen Bradley's studio, hiring a crew that included usual suspect superpickers such as Kenny Buttrey and Norbert Putnam, as well as hot-shot guitarist Jerry Reed, who adds some of his trademark chicken-pickin' licks. With the exception of a lone Randy Newman song at album's end, the songs are all originals, including several written along with longtime collaborator Bob Durand... This was the band's -Sixties swansong, with Sal Valentino going off to join the bluesier Stoneground, and Elliott doing session work in LA. A nice early milestone in the evolution of mainstream country-rock.
Beaver Creek "Live" (Impresario Productions, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Phil York)
An ambitious album by a teenage trio from Oak Cliff, Texas, led by two gals -- guitarist Marsha Britton and bassist Lisa Burgess -- with Keith Livers on drums. Britton and Burgess wrote all of the songs -- each composing solo -- and sang some nice, spunky duets on material that ranged from honkytonk to slightly rockabilly. The band was formed right after the girls graduated from high school, and they played regionally in North Texas for several years. Lisa Layne Burgess later shortened her name and joined the country novelty band, Vince Vance and the Valiants and was the lead singer on their most successful song, the Top Forty holiday classic, "All I Want For Christmas Is You," and was a member of the band (off and on) for many years. She finally moved into a career as a Patsy Cline imitator, playing Patsy onstage and various venues such as Branson Park. Though less high-profile, Marsha Britton went on to have some success as a songwriter and recorded three indiebilly albums in the 1990s. Whew!
Clyde Beavers/Jim Martin "Country And Western Hits" (Somerset Records, 1963) (LP)
A cheapo-label split LP of cover songs, with Clyde Beavers playing some tunes by Roy Acuff, and Jim Martin singing a few Hank Snow oldies. Beavers was a Georgia native who recorded numerous singles, including several in the late 1950s that are considered "hillbilly bop" or proto-rockabilly. He recorded for tiny indies as well as for major labels such as Decca and Mercury, Hickory and Dot, and later became known as a Southern Gospel artist. Jim Martin, who sings the Hank Snow tunes, is a bit more of a cypher.
Clyde Beavers "Hallelujah, Amen" (Songs Of Faith, 1964) (LP)
A very twangy country-gospel offering, with thumpy backbeats and pedal steel, and solid, chunky hillbilly vocals... Later, in the '70s and '80s, Beavers specialized in gospel material, producing several albums (including one of his own) for the Jesus Christ Is Lord (JCL) label, which I suspect he may have owned as well.
Clyde Beavers "The Big Country Sound Of Clyde Beavers" (Spar Records, 1969) (LP)
Two albums, issued more or less at the same time on different imprints of the same label. There's significant overlap between the Spar and Kash editions, with a few songs that are different on each one. Bear Family, where are you??
Clyde Beavers "The Love And Hurting Side Of Clyde Beavers" (Kash Country, 1969) (LP)
Clyde Beavers "Southern Gospel Legends Series" (Songs Of Faith, 2007)
This digital-era reissue combines all the material from Beavers' Hallelujah, Amen album with a much later release, Mary Had A Little Lamb, which was released on the Jesus Christ Is Lord label (which I think he owned...)
Gary Beck "Gary Beck Group: Past And Present" (Lynn Record Company, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Beck)
An ambitious, though somewhat flawed set of funky country from Corpus Christi, Texas... Bandleader and songwriter Gary Beck wrote all but three of the tracks on this album, and the cover tunes themselves are kind of intriguing -- "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "The Weight," and a version of Francis Lai's "Love Story." That last one gives you a sense of what might go wrong here, in that Beck's musical reach may have outpaced his grasp. He was a veteran club musician who previously cut a single or two with local roots/soul singer Billy Jack Collard and may well have been part of the Buddy Collard Band, sometime during the 'Seventies. Beck and Collard are joined here by a guy named Jack Hamilton and a gal singer identified only as Jamie. There's a clear debt to the eclectic roots sounds of the Muscle Shoals scene, with Beck shifting between semi-countrypolitan country and more groove-oriented material, while Jamie clearly wanted to be an Ava Aldridge or Dusty Springfield-type white soul gal. The results are a little iffy, though not outright terrible by any means -- if anything, they sound like they just needed more time to rehearse, or more time in the studio to smooth things out. A good portrait of a working bar band with big dreams in late-'Seventies Texas. [Note: Gary Beck also worked with singer Jada Vaughn on her album, Long Road Home To Texas.]
George Beck & His Jamboree Boys "George Beck's Jamboree" (Rodeo Records, 19--?) (LP)
An old-timer with roots in an earlier era of hillbilly musical variety shows, George Beck used to work with a blind singer named Freddie MacKenna and at one point tried aligning himself with the folk revival of the 1960s, though he seems like more of an old-school country artist. The liner notes to this album, which give a few details of his long career, also tout his juggling skills, so you get a sense of the vaudeville-style era that he came from.
Terry Beck "Live At Bogart's" (TRB Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Woolsey, Jim Blasingame & Terry Beck)
A rough and rugged live album from a club in Long Beach, California where singer Terry Beck seems to have had a long-term residency. The set includes covers of "Aime," "Long Haired Country Boy," "Mr. Bojangles," "Two Horsemen" and "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald." Pretty darn Seventies, even if it was recorded a few years later!
Zane Beck "...Meets Bobby Caldwell" (Mid-Land Records, 19--?) (LP)
Zane Beck & Julian Tharpe "12+14 = Country Jazz" (Zanbeck Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by A. D. Cummings)
I'm guessing that this duo from Scranton, Arkansas were more jazz than twang, but I'm always in favor of a bit of pedal steel, and Zane Beck has a bunch of albums to choose from. The additional pickin' from Julian Tharpe don't hurt much, either!
Johnny Bee & The Bee Family "Happiness And Teardrops" (Totall Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Gary T. Totall & Bill Barber)
A real vanity album, recorded by a Minnesota family who were not, as far as I can tell, professional musicians or even aspiring to be... The group included Johnny Bee, his wife and two kids, with son Erik singing on a few tracks, as well as daughter Melodie. This album includes some Bee originals such as "Break Down This Wall" and two by S. Emond (?) who provides "Paper Daddy" and "Tiny Teardrops." They also cover Marty Robbins and Buffy St. Marie, as well as "Puka Shells" by Lanakai (I think his wife was Hawaiian). The session was recorded in Minneapolis, though I'm not sure if they were from there or a smaller town nearby.
The Bee Kays "Letter From Home" (Eagle Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by The Bee Kays, Lyndon Bartell & Steve Peterson)
A family band from Good Thunder, Minnesota whose repertoire includes a lot of original material, written by Robert (Bob) Kittleson, Billye Jane Kruse, and Cindy Bee Kittleson... See the pattern here?
William C. Beeley "Gallivantin' " (North Park Records, 1970) (LP)
Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, William Beely fell under the spell of outlaw poet Townes Van Zandt and followed in his footsteps, playing local clubs and self-releasing this album when he was just a kid. It became legendary, of course, eventually getting an official reissue in 2017. Beeley got signed and recorded a second album for Malaco Records, but it got shelved and sat in the can for years... Fans of the more arty, poetic side of the Texas twang scene might wanna check these out.
Will Beeley "Passing Dream" (Southern Biscuit Records, 1979) (LP)
Will Beeley "Highways And Heart Attacks" (Tompkins Square, 2019) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry David DeCicca)
Bill Beeny, Margaret Beeny & The Westerners "Sonny Boy" (Temple Records, 19--?) (LP)
The Beenys were, I believe, married couple from Saint Louis, Missouri who evangelized in the area as well as recording several albums of all gospel material, including both standards and songs they themselves wrote. I'm not sure about the time-frame for these uber-indie albums (some of which didn't even have cardboard jackets!) but I think they were made in the late 1960s or early '70s. Turns out Mr. Beeny was a more-than-colorful character, a rabid right-winger of the John Birch-ian variety: Beeny ran an "anticommunist ranch" near Wright City, and formed a group called CROSS (Counter-Revolutionary Organization on Salvation and Service) which sponsored classes to train its members to use guns, so they could mix it up withe the hippies and Black Panthers, in case the forces of godless anarchy ever tried to invade the Ozarks. A staunch segregationist, Beeny ran unsuccessfully for statewide office, and was a supporter of George Wallace's 1968 presidential run. He also had ongoing legal problems -- mostly on tax issues -- and was kicked out of several positions as a pastor in Southern Baptist churches. The best part comes years later, though, when Beeny mellowed a little and became an Elvis Presley conspiracy theorist, opening the "Elvis Is Alive Museum," which he ran until 2007, when he sold his Presley relics on eBay. Jinkies. What a nut! (Thanks to Wikipedia for filling in the blanks.)
Bill And Margaret Beeny & The Westerners "Heaven's Hall Of Fame" (Temple Records, 19--?) (LP)
Bill And Margaret Beeny & The Westerners "Circuit Ridin' Preacher" (Temple Records, 19--?) (LP)
This album includes a twenty-minute long sermon entitled "Are There Communists In Our Churches?" along with the title track and "Heaven's Hall Of Fame" (which appears on another Beeny album) and versions of oldies such as "Did You Think To Pray," "Supper Time," et. al. The sermon sounds pretty fun!
Philomena Begley - see artist profile
Paul Belanger "You're The One For Me" (White Mountain Music, 19--?) (LP)
An old-fashioned cowboy yodeler from New England, Paul Belanger was born in Canada, but emigrated to New Hampshire where he hosted a weekly radio program for over thirty years, as well as performing and touring nationally and internationally for over sixty years, well into the 2010's. Backing him on this album is East Coast country legend Dick Curless, on rhythm guitar with his son, Rick Curless on drums, Jeff Patterson and Chuck Parish (of the John Penny Band) playing pedal steel and lead guitar, respectively. The repertoire's mostly straight-up cowboy music and sentimental stuff, including a couple of Gene Autry tunes, one by Montana Slim and a couple by Wilf Carter, who was a friend of Belanger. There's also a wealth of original material on here, including a pair of Christmas-related songs, the title track and one called "Cash Box For A Heart." Not sure when this album was recorded, but Belanger looks relatively youthful here, and Rick Curless was playing with Chuck Parrish in the John Penny Band around 1978... So, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that this came out around then as well.
Paul Belanger "The Old Man Of The Mountain" (Allagash Records, 19--?) (LP)
One of Mr. Belanger's most popular songs was his twangy tribute to the Old Man Of The Mountains, a curious rock formation near Franconia, New Hampshire than had a craggy profile not unlike that of Abraham Lincoln. The overhang was a popular tourist attraction and became New Hampshire's state emblem, drawing countless gawkers over the decades, until it collapsed from natural erosion in 2003. But we'll always have this song to remember it by!
Bell "Do You Ever Get Lonely?" (Jester Sound, 1986-?) (LP)
The mononymic Ms. Bell was a young (teen?) singer from Billings, Montana who seems to have been a terribly sincere and well-meaning kid. The album includes the cautionary tale, "Don't Ever Let A Drunk Take You Home," which is dedicated to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (akaMADD) and was also released as a single. Other originals on this album include tunes like "Victim Of My Heart" and "The Pools I've Cried," all copyrighted by the Hale Publishing company. Unfortunately, there are no producer or musician credits, but she does thank Gairrett Brothers, Shorty Spang and Mark Donahue -- Bob Hale is also thanked, and was perhaps her father, or at least manager/producer(?) Anyone with more info? I'm all ears!
Bob Bell & The Sundowners "After Sundown" (Polaris Records, 1966-?) (LP)
Not to be confused with the Sundowners from Chicago, these guys were a popular country group from Fitchburg, Massachusetts that had roots in a duo formed by Clovis (Tex) Girouard (1925-2013) and Hector J. Gaudet (1927-2014), guitar pickers who went by the nicknames Tex Stone and guitarist Shorty Strad. Both men served in World War Two, and following their enlistment, they renewed their interest in country music, adopting the postwar honkytonk style, and were joined by bassist Bob Bell (nee Robert Belliveau, d. 2011) who became the band's lead singer. They performed for several decades, touring widely in the northeastern US and Canada, and also worked as the house band at the Lone Star Ranch in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire for several years. As far as I know, this was their only LP, and it's great. Plain, simple, lively twang, with stripped-down production and a rock-solid band. There are some cover tunes -- Faron Young's "If You Ain't Loving, You Ain't Living," "Orange Blossom Special," "Six Days On The Road" -- and several originals, including Bob Bell's "Country Rhumba," which some sources say was a regional hit. The band also included steel player Al Eyles, who did some session work in the 1970s, and mentored several musicians on the New England country scene. There was a 2003 documentary film made about the band, The Sundowners : 50 Years Of A Legendary Band, although I haven't seen it myself.
Delia Bell -- see artist discography
Mirl Bell & Young Country "Introducing..." (Guide Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Bell)
Indie country from Houston, Texas... This album was recorded at Ray Doggett's studio and includes no release date on the disc or record jacket. Alas. About half the songs are written by Bell, including the forlorn "I Keep Existing." I couldn't find much information about this guy online -- he got a several brief plugs in Billboard throughout 1974, including references to some rodeo shows he was doing, and he copywrited some of his music that same year; other than that he's kind of a cypher. Anyone know what happened to this guy?
Tommy Bell "Tommy Bell" (Gold Sound Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy DeVito, Mark Harmon & Scott Spain)
An ambitious though terminally bland, Top Forty-oriented album by a guy from up around Las Vegas... There's a lot of original material on here, including several songs by Bob Morrison, a couple by Buddy Cannon and other by Ronnie David and Bill Shostak, who are credited as arrangers on the album. The album seems to have been backed by deejay Johnny Steele, the program director at Las Vegas radio station KVEG, and seems to have been well promoted -- lots of copies still floating around. Overall, I suppose it's a strong effort, although Bell's Kenny Rogers-meets-Joe Stampley vibe doesn't really appeal to my sensibilities. Folks with more mainstream tastes might wanna check this out, particularly if you're into the early '80s country sound.
Vivian Bell "Take Me, I'm A Woman" (Princess Records, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jeff Newman)
Ben, Dana & Home Cookin' "Sweet Country Lady" (197--?) (LP)
Jackson, Mississippi's Ben Marney and his wife Dana formed their duo in the early 'Seventies, and had a gig playing the Playboy nightclub circuit for several years, also releasing a single on the Playboy Records label, "Oh Mama," which cracked into the Top 100 in 1973... The Marneys must have learned the ropes during that stretch, since they opened their own club -- Marney's -- in 1977, settling in as regional entertainers on the Jackson scene. I think this was their first LP; other records were released under his name.
J. J. Bene & Darby Bene "Born To Pick Pick To Live" (Sang It Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Scott Spain)
This duo was from North Las Vegas, Nevada, playing mostly original material, including "Willie's Down At Gilley's," a tribute to Willie Nelson that compliments covers of two Willie classics, "Goin' Home" and "Pretty Paper."
Jane Benger "Something For Everyone" (Stage Four Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Donny Kees & David Martin)
Jane Benger hailed from Ansted, West Virginia and sang in the local church before making a go of it as a professional singer. She fronted a band called the New River Canyon Band that toured regionally and up in Canada a few times.... Benger wrote two of the songs on here: "Billie Lou" and "Smiling Through A Tear," while producer/pianist Donny Kees wrote "I Will Love You Every Morning." She also covers Jessi Colter's "I'm Not Lisa," as well as songs by Kris Kristofferson, Ray Charles, Kenny Loggins, The Beatles, and Errol Garner's "Misty." It's not all twangtunes, for sure, although the overall tilt seems to have been towards countrypolitan pop.
Jane Benger "Why Me Lord" (E Records, 19--?) (LP)
Johnny Bennett "Two Cheeseburgers And A Chocolate Malt" (Sierra Pacific Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Carl Walden & Johnny Bennett)
This album's got one of those "hassled by the cops" covers (a popular theme in country musicians) showing California cowboy Johnny Bennett getting pulled over on the front cover... and handcuffed next to his truck on the back! Bennett was living in Pomona, CA when he cut this album, and soon moved to Chino, where he sang on weekends at a joint called Joey's Bar-B-Q -- a gig held for over thirty years(!) Along with a slew of original tunes, Bennett covers some big hits (and assorted cool tunes) from the early '80s, like Johnny Lee's "Looking For Love," Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again," and Guy Clark's "Heartbroke." The musicians seem to be SoCal locals, with major contributions from producer/multi-instrumentalist Carl Walden.
Johnny Bennett "Give Me Credit" (Sierra Pacific Records, 1986) (LP)
About half the songs on here are Bennett's own, framed by well-chosen, eclectic covers, with a tilt towards the croonier end of country -- Bob McDill's "Amanda," "Night Life," Ian Tyson's "Someday Soon," "Walk Through This World With Me." The originals include "Carolina Fever," "Give Me Credit," "The Same Dream" and one called "Cotton Eyed Joe." Bennett recorded several other albums and singles -- I'm still looking for the one that has his song, "If You've Got A Pickup, Then You've Got A Lot Of Friends," which seems like it'd be a classic.
Johnny Bennett "Face On The Barroom Floor" (Sierra Pacific Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Bennett, Morgan Cavett & Carl Walden)
Pinto Bennett & The Famous Motel Cowboys "Famous Motel Cowboy Songs" (Sheepeater Records, 1986) (LP)
Pinto Bennett & The Famous Motel Cowboys "Big In Winnemucca" (PT Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Rob Matson)
Pinto Bennett & The Famous Motel Cowboys "Pure Quill" (PT Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Rob Matson)
Benny & Curley "...Sing Nashville Picks" (B & C Records, 1981) (LP)
Late-life recordings from the old-time duo of fiddler Ruey ("Curley") Collins (1915-1986) and yodeler Benny Kissinger (1918-1987), hillbilly multi-instrumentalists who worked together for decades, notably as early cast members of the Old Dominion Barn Dance. Collins originally hailed from Kentucky, while Kissinger was a Pennsylvanian but it was on the stage in Richmond, Virginia that they reached their career peak -- one highlight was in 1949 when Collins and his girlfriend Kathleen Williams were married live on the radio during an Old Dominion broadcast. This album looks back fondly on their era of country musicmaking; the duo also participated in nostalgic recordings with other Barn Dance stars in the 1970s.
Benny & The Amigos "Strictly Country" (Siesta Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bud Roedl)
Benny Burch and his band were from Effingham, Illinois and, as the title suggests, played a solid mix of straight-up country stuff, ranging from the Delmore Brothers and Bob Wills to Merle Haggard and Harlan Howard... classic material. They also recorded several original tunes, including two weepers written by bassist L. D. Lankford and an instrumental by fiddler Fay Walls. The band started in the 1960s -- not sure when this album came out.
Benny & The Boys "Benny And The Boys" (Jester Sound Studio, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Hale)
Fiddler Benny Milks rosins up the bow and plays some old-timey stuff and good-time country tunes with four of his pals from Malta, Montana -- bassist Bob Fleshe and the LaFond brothers: Craig LaFond on drums, Ed LaFond on steel guitar, and Maynard LaFond playing rhythm guitar. The repertoire includes chestnuts such "Uncle Pen," "Orange Blossom Special," and "Wabash Cannonball," along with some newer tunes from the Top Forty, like Doug Kershaw's "Louisiana Man," and the Kenny (Sauron) Rogers hit, "The Gambler." Seems to me like these fellas just wanted to have a little fun!
Wade Benson "For The First Time" (Studio One Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Al Lee & Tommy Strong)
Cajun/country fiddler Wade Benson (aka Wade Benson Landry) was already a two-time Louisiana Junior State Champion fiddler by the time he cut this album, winning the title in 1975 and 1977, at ages 13 and 15. He was just fifteen years old when he made this record. Other, later albums were recorded under his full name, and concentrated more exclusively on traditional cajun material. His younger brother, Chuck Landry (1968-2015) followed him into the music business and worked prolifically as a country music drummer, eventually moving to Branson, Missouri to play in various venues there.
Bent Creek Band "Treading High Water" (Little Beast, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Mark Gilbert & Bent Creek Band)
Country-rock from North Carolina. A perfect example of a rock band "going country" and getting it right: this opens with the wildly manic "Git Down Country Music" and similarly uptempo "School Daze," both quite twangy but with super-jangly rhythm guitar riffs worthy of the Feelies or numerous indiepop bands to come. There's also a chunky, riff-heavy Skynyrd/Marshall Tucker rock influence, but when they decide to play country, they do it well. A slight vocal similarity with the Dreadful Grate's Bob Wier (though it's not that pronounced, and these guys do not sound like the Dead...) and some dips into electric blues as well... They also remind me of the Cornell Hurd Band, though much more rock-oriented. For alt-country fans, there's good reason to check these guys out... they were definitely ahead of the curve on the whole twangcore thing... by about a decade or so!
Barbi Benton "Barbi Doll" (Playboy Records, 1975) (LP)
An actress and popular Playboy "bunny," Barbi Benton also was a regular on the Hee Haw TV show, and parlayed that gig into a moderately successful country career, which saw the release of several albums during the 1970s... On the Playboy record label, no less!
Barbi Benton "Barbi Benton" (Playboy Records, 1975) (LP)
This album included her biggest hit, "Brass Buckles" which hit #5 on the charts... Outside of a duet with Mickey Gilley, this was her biggest commercial success.
Barbi Benton "Something New" (Playboy Records, 1976) LP)
Barbi Benton "Ain't That Just The Way" (Playboy Records, 1978)
Barbi Benton "Kinetic Voyage" (Takoma Records, 1988) (LP)
Barbi Benton "Barbi Benton" (Max Cat Records, 2010)
Chuck Berger "New Country Sounds" (19--?) (LP)
Oh, dear. An entire album of cordovox country? And flugelhorn? I am skeptical, but if someone wanted to send me a copy, I'd be glad to check it out. Though great is my trepidation... This seems to be an early 'Sixties outing, with covers of hits such as Big Bouquet Of Roses," "Make The World Go Away," "Tip Of My Fingers," and possibly some originals as well. The back cover is blank, so the aura of mystery is enhanced.
Roy Berkeley & Tim Woodbridge "Folk And Country Songs Of The FDR Years" (Longview Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Don Wade)
This one's definitely more of a folk album (though it does use the word "country" on the cover!) but Roy Berkeley's bio is just too good to pass up, particularly the way this album fits into his overall story. Roy Berkeley (1935-2009) was born during the height of the Great Depression and, as mentioned in the liner notes, grew up in a world where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt loomed large and the New Deal provided anxious Americans a path to stability and prosperity... An East Coaster, Berkeley was a charter member of the Greenwich Village folk revival in the late 1950s, and formed the Old Reliable String Band with Tom Paley in the early 'Sixties. According to his online profile is (perhaps apocryphally) said to have been the first folksinger to perform in a coffeehouse. Not an orthodox leftie, Berkeley's early songs occasionally lampooned the socialist leanings of the "old left," although on this album his affection for FDR seems sincere. However, in later years Berkeley went full Reagan Democrat and literally became a gun-toting, card-carrying Republican, working in local law enforcement up in Vermont. He moved from FDR's NRA (the National Recovery Administration) to the assault rifle NRA, giving firearms training rather than guitar lessons. God bless America!
Ruth Berman "I'm Going Home" (Hilltop Production Company, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Lawson)
Rod Bernard - see artist profile
Ron Bernard "Friends And Lovers" (Bridgewire Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Hutcherson, DeWayne Orender & Ron Bernard)
'80s indiebilly from the Fresno suburb of Clovis, California... Includes the locally-themed "Raisin City Blues," as well as a bunch of weepers such as "Why Can't Old Lovers Be Friends," "Every Time I Fall In Love, It Falls Apart" and "Pickin' Up The Pieces Of Me." (An interesting aside: this album was partly recorded at the Fresno-based Trac Recordings studio -- the same label that recorded the "Country Revolution" band in 1974.)
Bob Bernstein "Country Mobile Home Park" (Bob Bernstein Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Bernstein)
An all-original set from a Southern California indie twangster living in Vista, CA, near San Diego... Bernstein started playing in a duet with John Moore, who also sings lead on this album. It's a family affair throughout, with Bernstein's daughter, Jaqueline Carol Gordon, singing harmony, as well as Moore's sister Julie on a tune or two, and some steel guitar by Richard Craig and Tim Cook, and banjo by Dennis Caplinger, and picking and singing by various SoCal locals. All the songs are Bob Bernstein originals...
Wayne Berry "Home At Last" (RCA, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Norbert Putman)
I'm listing this one not so much because it really fits into the '70s country vibe I'm into, but because I keep seeing it mentioned as a lost country-rock gem, and I'm not so sure I agree. A Nashville native who first tried his luck in folk-era New York City, Berry eventually headed out west, where he co-founded a SoCal country-rock band called Timber and was pals with Tommy Talton, of the band Cowboy. Which all gives him country-rock cred, I guess, but a lot of this is disc just tepid, strained '70s soft rock. There are some pleasantly twangy tunes, though nothing I'd recommend you try too hard to track down: "Black Magic Gun," "Welcome Home" and "Gene's Tune (Blonde Guitar)" are about it for me. This was apparently a big studiofest, with heavy hitters such as Barry Beckett, Johnny Gimble and Pete Carr sitting in, as well as several guys from the Area Code 615 band, and some pedal steel on a few tracks, courtesy of Weldon Myrick. Worth checking out, but it didn't really float my boat.
Beth & Cinde "Cross Country" (Rising Moon Productions, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Cinde Borup & Beth Pederson)
Folkie-jazzy stuff with a notable streak of country twang... The acoustic-electric duo of Beth Pederson and Cinde Borup were from Sandpoint, Idaho and are backed by a few shaggy-lookin' locals, notably bassist Pat Ball, whose jazzy, electric noodling stands out in the sparsely-arranged, primarily acoustic setting. There are some callbacks to pop vocal oldies and standards such as "Java Jive," "Sea Cruise" and "Route 66," as well as a cover of a Billy Joe Shaver song, "Sweet Daddy," and five songs penned by Cinde Borup, who I assume is also the main vocalist. There's kind of a bluesy throatiness to many of the songs with recalls 'Seventies sirens such as Phoebe Snow and Ellen McIlwane, with dips into torch song and dewy singer-songwriter folk... Not as country as some would say, but worth checking out, especially if you're looking for female artists of the era.
Amy BeVille "Amy BeVille" (Pyramid's Eye Recording Studio) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Stabile & Lee Peterzell)
Though originally from Signal Mountain, Tennessee, songwriter Amy BeVille settled down in Georgia where she became a well-respected guitarist, as well as an ordained minister and a highly successful organic farmer, raising seedlings by the truckful for sale across the region. Along the way, she played gigs with some of the best roots musicians of the '70s and recorded this album which mixes original songs with some interesting cover tunes. This includes a cover of Ronee Blakley's "Tape Deck In His Tractor" and Bobby Charles' "Tennessee Blues" along with a slew of original material, although much of it looks pretty folkie. There's no pedal steel or fiddle, though Ed Cullis plunks the banjo and BeVille adds some sweet licks on guitar.
The B. G. Ramblers "They're Cloggin' In The White House" (Orange Blossom, 197-?) (LP)
Safe to assume that "B. G." stands for "bluegrass," as the set list is pretty much straightforward 'grass standards -- "Cotton Eyed Joe," "Fox On The Run," et. al -- but it's that title track that makes this noteworthy for 'Seventies scholars -- a Jimmy Carter reference, no doubt. Not sure where these folks were from, though... Anyone out there know?
Sam Bidwell "Sam Bidwell" (Ricochet Records, 1988) (LP)
Independent neo-trad country by Wichita, Kansas songwriter Sam Bidwell, with songs such as "Small Town Country Boy," "Your Love Hit Me Like A Bullet," "What Excuse Will I Use Tonight" and "Honky Tonk Crazy." This session was recorded in Nashville.
Big John & The Bad Men "Hoe Down Fiddle" (Oxboro Records, 19--?) (LP)
An old-timey "hoe down country" stringband from the Great Lakes, the Bad Men featured fiddler/guitarist "Big John" Johnny Voit, originally from Finlayson, Minnesota, who also worked in the house band of the Flame Cafe in Minneapolis. He's backed by a group identified as drummer Aloysious Sebastian Lloyd Jones III, Bobby Niven on bass and pianist Arnie St. Hillaire. (I suspect there may be a stage name or two among this group, but can't say with absolute certainty.) The repertoire is pretty standard fare -- "Bile That Cabbage Down," "Flop Eared Mule," "Old Joe Clark," etc. "Orange Blossom Special?" Yah, sure, you betcha. I'm not so sure about "Chinese Breakdown," but hey, those were different times.
Big Mac And The Outlaws "The Outlaws" (Alvera Records, 19--?) (LP)
Back when everyone was talking about "outlaw country," these guys really meant it! This was a prison band from the state penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma, playing rock and country oldies, doubtless as part of a work rehabilitation program... I think may have recorded more than one album, though I'm not sure about that.
John Biggs "The Roads We Travel" (Blue River Valley Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Weir & John Biggs)
A mostly-folkie set, with distinct flavors of bluegrass and country twang from this Manhattan, Kansas songwriter... There's a strong John Denver-ish feel to the gentler tunes, but also some wicked humor ala Larry Groce, as heard on the faux-gospel novelty number, "Send Me To Glory In A Glad Bag," which is probably the album's best-known song. Biggs also includes a couple of real gospel songs, notably a brief instrumental fling at "Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring" and "Talk About Your Suffering," though I'd hardly call this a religious record...) Electric guitarist Dan Kirkpatrick adds some hot licks on a couple of tracks, though most of the other players are true locals-only types... Admittedly, Biggs has a fairly thin voice and many of his songs are pretty goopy, but they are also compelling, in no small part due to his committed, passionate performances. This tilts a little farther into pure-folk terrain for me, but it's still a really nice record. And definitely very "of its time..."
Kenny Biggs "Loving You Is What I Do The Best" (Gateway Records, 1968-?) (LP)
Originally from Sleepy Creek, West Virginia, singer Kenny Biggs carved out a niche for himself as a radio deejay on a string of stations in locales such as Gary, Indiana, Chicago and most notably several stations in Pennsylvania, which seems to have been his main stomping grounds. At the time, Mr. Biggs was working on WPIT, Pittsburg while also pursuing an ambitious touring schedule that took him up into New York state and Canada. He also had a gig on the WWVA "Wheeling Jamboree," where he was backed by his band The Talismen, made up of bass player Wayne Barnes, Wayne Kincaid on steel guitar, and Bill Lynn on drums. They were apparently represented by Ohio country music entrepreneur Quentin Welty, who wrote the liner notes for both of these albums, and whose B-W label released one of Kenny Biggs' earliest singles 'way back in 1961. There's no release date on this disc, but it includes a version of the title track, which Biggs recorded for Chart Records in 1966, as well as a cover of "Don't Squeeze My Sharmon," which was a hit for Charlie Walker in 1967, so I'll take a swing at it and guess this came out around 1968.
Kenny Biggs "Chasing Rainbows" (Pinnacle Records, 1970-?) (LP)
An excellent album of would-be early-'70s Top Forty material from an Ohio artist who was a cast member of the WWVA Jamboree show at the time he recorded this album. Biggs attempts a few countrypolitan ballads, but the best stuff here is the more robust, loping honky-tonk material... He had a good feel for novelty material as well, and overall was a pretty polished, likeable performer. There's no date on the album, but again the liner notes are by country promoter Quentin Welty, who was now identified as the General Manager of WWVA, a job he held from 1969-71 -- I'm splitting the difference and calling it a 1970 album. Biggs seems to have been in Welty's general orbit as a demo singer as well as a bandleader: in addition to a three originals written by Biggs, there are several credited to B-W Music (Welty's publishing house) with songs penned by Gene Hood, Jim Owen, and even one by 'Fifties hillbilly singer Howdy Kempf. Biggs might have been a little out of step with the times -- a lot of this material sounds like it would have fit in better with the post-honky tonk vibe of early '60s Nashville, but it's a still swell record, definitely worth tracking down. I'll count Kenny Biggs in my list of old-school coulda-woulda-shoulda artists.
Bill & Don "...Sing Songs Of The Lonesome Road" (Mission Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Floyd)
Although this gospel record was recorded in Nashville, the bluegrass-country duo of Bill Keefer and Don Shaw were, I believe, from Georgia, probably somewhere near Savannah. This is strictly off-the-radar, amateur musicmaking, notable for the wealth of original material, about two-thirds of the songs credited to either Keefer or Shaw, with backing by fellow Georgians Junior Perry (lead guitar), Homer Tew (rhythm guitar) and Glenvis Tyre (fiddle and mandolin) a local musician from Wayne County, south of Savannah. This album looks late '60s, though it's possible it's from the early '70s -- hard to pin down exactly.
Bill & Taffy "Pass It On" (RCA, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Blume, Bill Danoff & Taffy Danoff)
Songwriter Bill Danoff has had one hell of a career: he directly influenced the success of country rock and wrote two huge smash hits that were an integral part of the 1970's soundscape. As part of the late '60s Washington, DC folk scene, Danoff and his then-wife Taffy Nivert formed an obscure band called Fat City, which released two odd and eclectic albums. They were also early supporters of Emmylou Harris, years before her fateful encounter with country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons. In 1971 Bill & Taffy co-wrote "Take Me Home, Country Roads," which became a huge hit for folk-rock icon John Denver and became frequent collaborators with the rising superstar. After releasing a couple of unsuccessful albums as "Bill & Taffy," they took stock of their own limited star potential, hired a couple of glamorous singers and relaunched themselves as The Starland Vocal Band, immediately scoring a chart-topping hit with "Afternoon Delight," which was such a huge success if earned them a short-lived prime-time variety show on CBS-TV. They never came close to matching that one, though, and the band broke up after a few albums, but recording that one song was enough to cement them in the holy firmament of 'Seventies cheese.
Now, about this record. In all honesty, this is a pretty terrible album -- a super-duper self-indulgent, starry-eyed, spaced-out philosophizing/navel-gazing folk-pop-psychedelic smorgasbord, with amiable warbling and poetic intoning. Folks who dig early '70s self-indulgence may find this to be pretty groovy, but it's more of an over-inflated LA studiofest than a groundbreaking country-rock outing, certainly there are no pop gems on a par with "Take Me Home, Country Roads," although to be fair, it does have its moments. Guitarist Larry Carlton is one of several notable studio musicians on here, adding some hot licks, particularly on the funky "She Won't Let Me Fly Away," one of the album's highlights. Other musicians include folkie Carolyn Hester on background vocals, jazz singer Al Jarreau doing something called "vocal flutes," sessionman Hal Blaine on drums, while for more country-oriented material, Byron Berline plays banjo and fiddle on one song, "Some Sweet Day."
Bill & Taffy "Aces" (RCA, 1974) (LP)
Bill Billington "Sex, Drugs And Country Music" (Nu-Sound, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Floyd)
Outlaw novelty twang from upstate New York... All but two of the songs were written by Billington; Gary Harrison provided the others, including one song co-written with Dean Dillon. This album includes tunes like "Sex, Drugs And Country Music," "Bartender Woman," "Always Agree With Your Mother" and "Big Bad 1200 CC Harley."
Bill Billington "All In Life's Game" (Nu-Sound Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Floyd)
Jim Bing "This Is Jim Bing" (Universal Audio, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by John Michaelson)
Originally from Wisconsin, rockabilly/frat rock veteran Jim Bing had been living in Arizona for several years when he recorded this album of pop and country covers. The country stuff includes stuff like "Proud Mary," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," "For The Good Times" and "You Don't Mess Around With Jim," placing this undated album somewhere around 1973 or thereabouts. His old band, The Valiants, are faves of the rockabilly/retro set, and recorded several sizzling tunes back in the '60s.
James Bingle "Solely James Bingle" (Bingle Records, 196-?) (LP)
(Produced by James Bingle)
Primitive, earthy and immediate, this rough-hewn bluesy acoustic country music shows a strong, undeniable Jimmie Rodgers influence. Details are pretty sparse, but according to the guy selling this unicorn on eBay, Mr. Bingle was a street musician who self-released only a few dozen copies of this oddly compelling album. There's no cover art, and the erratically-designed inner label credits him as sole author and composer of all the material. Tracking down his BMI entity, J-B Music Publishing, I believe his full name was James Freemont Bingle (1971-2013) and Arkansas native who later moved to Southern California and became known as "the Cabazon Cowboy." While some of these songs were registered as early as 1962, Mr. Bingle was still copywriting his music as late as 1971-72, so this album may be of a later vintage than it seems. The main thread seems to be his 1962 song, "At Our House," which is broken up on the album into three separate tracks, in perhaps sort of a song cycle, along with "Cottage For Two," "Bye For Now," "Our Yesterday" and others. Bingle also includes a few instrumentals, odd, chunky meanderings that take his country-blues style into interesting directions. He was no John Fahey, to be sure, but he did sound unique. (Note" the album's "title" was a judgement call: I took it from the handwritten script printed on both sides of the label; alternately, it could be titled "Words And Music by James Bingle," which is what appears in typeface.) Apparently Mr. Bingle was an accomplished self-taught luthier, and handmade several guitars modeled after the Martin company's style.
Bobby Bird "T-Bird's Daddy" (T-Bird Records, 1974-?) (LP)
Canadian guitar picker Bobby Bird was originally from near Winnipeg -- a teen prodigy, he took part in national talent contests and played on TV and radio before making his move to the Nashville in mid-1960s. He was headed to Nashville in 1964 to take up a job offer with the Jim Reeves band, the Po' Boys, when he heard about the plane crash that ended Reeves' life, so instead he worked for about a year in Minneapolis with the Houle Brothers band, before finally making it to Music City in '65. He worked regularly, playing back-up in several bands, including for Pee Wee King, Marvin Rainwater, Tex Ritter and Texas Bill Strength... This album's title comes his nickname for his son, T-Bird, who was born in 1974. (Awwww...) About half the songs on this album were written by Bird, with most of the others composed by various artists signed to the Vanjo Publishing company, which probably sponsored this album
Bird Dog & The Road Kings "Momma Where Am I" (Hat Records, 1980-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bird Dog Wheeler)
Indie twang from Maryland's Eastern Shore... Lead singer and principal songwriter Henry Byrd Wheeler grew up in Easton, and started the group in 1974, meeting lead guitar player Billy West the following year, in '75, eventually leading to the lineup on this album. Along with Wheeler and West, the Road Kings included Rick Hester on bass and Gary Parker on drums. This was probably the apex of their career, though Wheeler headed for Nashville a few years later, and plugged away in Music City from 1984-88 while keeping some version of the band alive. He returned to Maryland and got a job as a sales manager for a regional beer distribution company, where he worked for over thirty years while also running the band for fun.
Jan Bird "...Sings Down Home Sounds, With Ernie Hagar's Swingin' Steel" (Meagher Electronics/High Hopes Incorporated, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Meagher & Paul Smith)
Singer-guitarist Jan Bird was originally from Weed, California and she'd moved to Monterey and was playing gigs at the Highlands Inn in Carmel at the time she cut this album. Local steel guitar whiz Ernie Hagar plays pedal steel and dobro on here, as well as arranging the album, with banjo by Bob Cameron and guitar and bass by Russ Allen. Bird balances a few pop and folk tracks like "Last Thing On My Mind" and "Fire And Rain" against a raft of true country tunes -- stuff "Heartaches By The Number," "Cold Cold Heart" and "It's Such A Pretty World Today." Interesting song selection, and a cool cast of characters from California's Central Coast.
Terry Bird "A Tribute To Hank Williams" (Stardust Records, 196-?) (LP)
I couldn't find any info about singer Terry Bird, or about this super-sketchy cheapo label LP, though apparently this is yet another repackaging of some budget-line recordings made by hillbilly old-timer Curley Williams, tracks which have been reissued on literally dozens of cheapo LPs, under a variety of names. (I've been putting together a list of Hank Williams tribute LPs, but this website has dug much deeper. It's also worth noting that most of the songs on this album weren't actually part of the Hank Williams repertoire...
The Birkby Family "Fiddlin' With The Birkbys" (1982) (LP)
(Produced by Vaughn Lofstead & Rick Malis)
A simple, straightforward set of old-timey/bluegrass instrumentals performed by the Birkby family, of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Their dad, Alan Birkby, was a Maryland State championship fiddler, though various family members take turns playing lead on this set of fiddle tunes... About as "mom and pop" as these private-pressing albums get!
Becky Bishop "First Shot... Live" (Grass Roots Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Lee Magid)
A mix of roots blues and twang from this Southern Oregon folkie... This album includes several original songs, including "Truckstop Waitress" and "This Ol' Man Of Mine" written by Bishop, along with oldies from Gene Autry, Ella Mae Morse and Joe Turner. The album was recorded at a studio in Santa Monica, California and released on a label from Malibu, though I'm not sure if Bishop was living in California at the time, or just went to LA to record. The backing band includes dobro playing by Louis Golper and fiddle by Brantley Kearns.
Elvin Bishop -- see artist profile
Bittercreek "All The Good Times" (Meteor Sound, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Lou Johnson)
This Ogden, Utah bluegrass band featured fiddler Jim Shupe and bassist Ted Shupe, members of the Shupe Family Fiddlers band, which later spawned the Top Forty career of Ted's son, Ryan. The Shupes are joined on this disc they are joined by Paul Cannon, Edward Cannon (mandolin), Curtis Cannon (banjo), and Don Baker on guitar. The Shupes came from a long line of traditionally-oriented musicians, and made sure they passed the torch to their kids... In the early '80s, Ted Shupe organized the Pee Wee Pickers band, which featured his then- ten-year old son Ryan on fiddle, along with a pre-teen Matt Flinner on banjo, and much later in life Mr. Shupe and his wife Sandy organized the Utah-based Wallsburg Music Festival, which they founded in 2014.
Bittersweet "Bittersweet" (Blue Ash Records, 19--?) (LP)
Ernie Bivens III "Musical Fix" (GBS Records/General Broadcasting Service, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by Lynn Carver, Pat Holt, Ronnie Light & Col. Ernie Bivens)
Apparently originally from North Carolina, Ernie Bivens III was the son of Col. Ernie Bivens. an erstwhile record producer and the driving force behind the GBS record label, which released a couple dozen singles and a few LPs during the 1980s. Often recording as just plain Ernie Bivens, EB3 cut several singles in addition to this LP, recording for the American Artists and Nashville American labels, as well as for GBS. This disc gathers some of that earlier material, as well as new songs penned by Ted Harris, as well as Chance Jones, Mike Lantrip, Ann Williams and Linda Craig. There's a faint whiff of song-poem, pay-to-play in the air here, although Harris was an established Nashville songwriter, and the backing band was an a-list Music City studio crew. The pickers are mostly seasoned pros, folks such as Willie Ackerman, Kenny Buttrey, Lloyd Green, Hargus Robbins, Buddy Spicher and Hank Strezlecki. Ernie Bivens had worked as a studio musician himself, including a stint as the drummer and vocalist for the Sligo Studio Band, which cut two early '80s LPs and also went by the name The Country Allstars; an earlier edition of the group recorded an album under Wayne Casper's name, one of his Sligo Studio buds. After this album, the Bivens trail grows cold, although I think he did some session work for various regional artists.
Bob Black "Ladies On The Steamboat" (Ridge Runner Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Black, Slim Richey & Gordon Reed)
Yeah, sure, I know Ridge Runner was a bluegrass label, but I'm a sucker for steamboats, even if it's just in a song title. Plus, I really dig Norman Blake and Nancy Blake, who play on this album, as well as the White Family, who play on a tune or two, as well as fiddlers Kenny Baker and Blaine Sprouse... Given the lineup of talent, I'd say this is a disc worth having on your radar.
Black Canyon Express "Black Canyon Express" (1982) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Mahler, Rich Markowitz & Black Canyon Express)
A Colorado bar band led by songwriter Brad Fitch, Black Canyon Express played for several years at various resorts and venues across the Rocky Mountains... The group also included Charlie Clark, fiddler Jackie Clark, and Dan Downs, playing a mostly-original set including gems such as "Cowboys And Old Folks," "Life In A Tourist Town," and "Manure Scoopin' Man." Later on, in the persona of Cowboy Brad, Fitch recorded a bazillion self-released albums in the digital era. He also co-founded another regional band, The Elktones, which for a decade or so held down a regular gig at the Elk Meadow Lodge in Estes Park, CO.
The Black Canyon Gang "Ridin' High" (Viking Studios, 1974) (LP)
A Colorado hippie band, perhaps more folkadelic than country. According to Elk Bugles they were from the towns of Montrose and Olathe, in the western end of the state, near Grand Junction, adjacent to the Black Canyon National Park. The band was made up of brothers Bill Austin (on mandolin) and Russell Austin (lead guitar), along with Paul Hunter (banjo and bass), Robert Dale Mount (banjo and mandolin) and a fella identified only as Jasper on dobro and steel guitar; Like a lot of local bands, their lineup changed a lot over time, with Bart Lyons and various Austin family members joining in later years. They had a nice sound, blending folkie, progressive bluegrass with s subtle, Byrds-y country-rock vibe. They still sounded that way decades later when doing back-porch performances in the 'Nineties (thank you, YouTube!)
Black Mountain Express "Ride Through The Country" (Teru Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Ted Reinhart)
Formed in 1969, this group from Williamsburg, Pennsylvania was initially a country-oriented quartet, although they slipped in a rock oldie or two, as well as a little bit of polka. The band's first lineup included guitarists Herm Arnold and Barry Aungst, along with Roger Ginter on drums and Bill Wilson on bass. They took a few sharp turns almost immediately, changing their name to the Second Edition in 1970, not long after this album came out. They also recorded a couple of singles under that name, and there's mention of an LP, though I think that actually refers to this disc. The lineup changed, as well, with Barry Aungst dropping out in 1972 and going on to buy a used car dealership a few years later. His younger brother Lonnie Aungst took over as the band's lead guitar and continued on as a mostly-country band for a while, switching to rock in '74 and eventually became more of an oldies band. The Second Edition continued playing regionally for several decades and even did a fiftieth anniversary reunion gig in 2019, although by that time the lineup had changed completely.
Black Mountain Band "Black Mountain Band" (BMB Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Breeden, Jack Gilmer & John Long)
Bit of a mystery disc here. The band was lead by guitarist John Long and bassist Rick Long (his brother perhaps?) along with Dan Breeden on drums, Bill Gouge (piano), Dave Meadows (banjo and fiddle), and fiddler Ken Sears. They recorded at Gene Breeden's studio in Nashville, though there's no indication of where the band was from; North Carolina's a possibility, since I think Bill Gouge was from Charlotte. The other guys may have been hired by the studio: I'm not sure but I think Meadows was an Indianapolis folkie and Ken Sears is most likely the Nashville A-lister who later formed the Time Jumpers band. At any rate, most of the songs were written by John and Richard Long, with three others by Lee Morgan and one apiece by Ernie Rowell and William Gouge (a closing number called "No One Writes Better Than Jesus"). No date, either, though for some reason I'm getting an early 'Eighties vibe. Any further info is welcome!
Black River Express "Sweet Dreams" (Mountainside Recording Studio, 1979) (LP)
Great set list from this super-obscuro New England band -- stuff from Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis and others, even a version of the Oak Ridge Boys' "Y'All Come Back Saloon," for a more contemporary touch. Also a bunch of 'Seventies gal songs: Linda Ronstadt's "When Will I Be Loved," "Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down" and "C'est Le Vie" (both presumably copped off of Emmylou Harris), and "Sweet Dreams," of course. The band seems to have been from Northfield, Vermont, though other than that, they are a bit of a mystery... Anyone got any info?
The John Blackburn Trio "The John Blackburn Trio" (Willie Price Productions, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Willie Price)
A nice, modest set from some Amarillo, Texas locals... Mostly in a folkie/acoustic blues revival mode, but with some touches of twang. They open with a nice, breezy version of the Byrds "You Ain't Going Nowhere," and dip into folk scene cowboy nostalgia ("Ain't No More Cane On The Brazos") and some playful acoustic blues'n'jazz, such as a snippet of "Keep On Truckin'," as well as a bit of bluegrass on Side Two. Blackburn slips into flamenco-style guitar and closes the album with a Spanish-tinged version of Luiz Bonfa's "Manha Da Carnaval." For twangfans perhaps the most interesting track is a cover of an obscure early song by Rodney Crowell, "Home Sweet Home Revisited," which Jerry Reed and JD Crowe popularized, but Crowell left out of his own recorded canon... This is a nice version, too. Not an earthshaking album, but a good snapshot of some just-plain folks having fun making music together.
J. D. Blackfoot "The Song Of Crazy Horse" (Pye/Fantasy, 1974)
(Produced by Tony Baker & J.D. Blackfoot)
This guy was originally from Ohio, although this record was recorded in New Zealand, of all places... Anyway, the album kicks off with the title track, a dreadful, politically-themed fifteen-minute long folk-prog epic about Crazy Horse and the decimation and betrayal of the Native Americans... Blackfoot's heart was in the right place, and what with the occupation of Alcatraz and all, the issues were timely... But it's so painfully serious and so musically bombastic, it's hard to say anything nice about this track. Not my cup of tea. On Side Two of the album he plows into some leaden boogie-rock, and adds a smidge of sunshine rock, all of which accentuates Blackfoot's shortcomings as a singer. In theory this album has connections to hippie twang, but mostly it's just one song, the obscene, anti-country, faux-redneck novelty number, "Flushed You Down The Toilet Of My Heart," which is un-airable, but also painfully unfunny. Wouldn't say there's much to recommend this one, really. Certainly not enough to inspire me to check out his other records.
Blackhawk "Transitions/Traditions" (Blackhawk Records, 1981) (LP)
Not to be confused with the Top Forty Nashville band of the 1990s, this group came from Colorado where they had a sizeable local following. This record has -- by accident, I think -- two titles: the album cover says "Transitions," while the inside label reads "Traditions." Go figure. The original songs include "Blackhawk," "Jamie," "Louanne" and "You Were All I Ever Needed."
Blackwater "Blackwater" (19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Anthony J. Ward & Kevin Kelly)
This early '80s(?) twangband from Bayonne, New Jersey played mostly cover songs, but also recorded a couple of their own songs co-written by singer/guitarist Danny Infantino: "Say She's A Child" and "Lazy Sunday," as well as one called "Between The Movies," which wasn't written by anyone in the band, but seems to be original to this album. I'm a little dubious about the guy playing saxophone and flute, but the cowboy hats and fiddles tell me maybe I need to get over it... Nice, mellow, harmony-vocals oriented country-rock, with a gentle early-Eagles/Firefall kinda feel. The group included Andy Holland on guitar, Danny Infantino (guitar), Gary Kirmayer (fiddle, saxophone and flute), Ollie O'Shea (fiddle), Rick Palley (bass, piano), and Dave Sonneborn on drums.
Karon Blackwell "Live In Concert" (Blackland Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by James Garland)
Singer Karon Blackwell was from Ellisville, Mississippi, though she and her husband, comedian Marty Allen did extensive touring and lounge gigs in Vegas and elsewhere... This is a double LP, mainly with covers of '70s countrypolitan hits, a few honkytonk oldies ("Jambalaya") and a couple of Motown and pop standards, stuff like "Shop Around" and "Impossible Dream." The second disc is almost all gospel, including a longer gospel medley, although most of the other songs are secular... This album was recorded several years before she and Allen met and married... One song, "Blue Skies And Roses," scraped its way into the Country Top 100, but that was the extent of Blackwell's chart action on a national level.
Ron W. Blackwood & Donna Blackwood "Country" (Rite Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Burton & Lan Ackley)
A secular set by "RW & Donna," aka the Nashville-based duo of Donna Blackwood and her husband, Ron Blackwood, who was best known as the youngest member of the fabled Blackwood Brothers southern gospel group. Although their careers were mostly devoted to religious material, here RW & Donna work their way through an all-covers set of early 'Seventies country hits, singalong favorites such as "Let Me Be There," "Please Mister Please," "The Top Of The World" and "Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song." Over the years R.W. moved between various incarnations of the Blackwood Brothers and his own Blackwood Singers band, eventually moving from Tennessee to the warm embrace of the Branson, Missouri/Ozark oldies opry scene. I'm not sure when this album came out, but I'd guess sometime around the mid-'Seventies.
Boots Blake "Keeping It Country" (Great Records, 1982-?) (LP)
I could not find out any info on this country gal of yesteryear... As far as I can tell, this was her only album, which was released along with a single, "Here Comes The Bride"/"Leave Your Love At Home."
Ric Blake "Something For Everyone" (Fifth Lane Room Record Company, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Kunshier & John Anderson)
This one looks a little sketchy, perhaps, with Side One dominated by '70s soft pop covers, ranging from "More Than A Woman" and "You Light Up My Life" (yikes) to Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," although B. J. Thomas's "Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" is getting a little closer. But hey, flip the platter and Side Two is packed with honest-to-gosh country hits, stuff like "For The Good Times," "Luckenbach, Texas," and "Long Tall Texan," so I guess we can give this guy a pass. A lounge performer, obviously, who played all the instruments himself. Not sure where Blake played live, though this album was recorded in LA, at the Annex Studios, in Hollywood, California.
Ronnie Blake "Country Class" (G.I.F.T., 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Kimble & Jerry Masters)
An enjoyable album from a Florida country-pop hopeful who sang a few cover tunes but also recorded several fine originals. Side One of the album opens with "Don't Marry For Money, Honey," an empty-pockets love ballad, and closes with Bob Adkinson's "Lure Of The Road," an cheerful novelty number about a guy who becomes a trucker instead of going to college (and dreads what happens when his dad finds out...) Side Two has some new tunes as well... Unfortunately, the liner notes don't include composer credits, so though I assume Blake wrote at least some of these songs, I can't say for sure. The cover songs are a mixed bag -- Blake wobbles a little bit on uptempo numbers like "Proud Mary" and "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," but sounds swell on ballads such as "Help Me Make It Through The Night." All in all, this is a nice one, a strong effort by a regular fella with an okay voice and some big, big dreams. Definitely worth a spin!
Ronnie Blake "Key Largo Blues" (RB Enterprises, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Wilma Tackett & Lola Wager)
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan "Birds Of A Feather" (Wayside Records, 1970)
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan "Two Sides Of Jack And Misty" (Mega Records, 1972) (LP)
Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan "Life and Death (And Almost Everything Else)" (Omni Records, 2006) (CD)
Johnny Blankenship "Hard On The Heart" (OL Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Don Felts)
A multi-instrumentalist who has had a longtime gig playing at Knott's Berry Farm in Southern California, Johnny Blankenship was also part of Johnny and Sharon Leighton's 1960s/'70s band(s). He cut this album for Overton Lee's ultra-obscuro label, recording a set that was mostly songs written by producer Don Felts, along with two by Blankenship, published through Lee's publishing company. Couldn't find much info about Blankenship (or this album) online, though I gather he's still holding down his day job at the Knott's Berry amusement park...
Leroy Blankenship "Call Him A Song" (Gospel Heritage Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Walters)
Leroy Blankenship "Retirement Plan" (Gospel Heritage Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Walters)
A country gospel set recorded in Nashville, with some Music City heavyweights such as Hoot Hester, Willie Rainford and Bruce Watkins helping fill out the sound alongside West Coast pickers like Alvis Barnett, Leroy Blankenship, producer Wayne Walters and a few of his family members. A few of the songs are originals, including two by Mr. Blankenship and one from Wayne Walters.
Leroy Blankenship & Wayne Walters "Friendship: A Gift From God" (Southern Heritage Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Leroy Blankenship & Wayne Walters)
Leroy Blankenship "Love Is Free" (Southern Heritage Records, 19--?) (LP)
Leroy Blankenship "Double Exposure: Leroy Blankenship Sings What He Writes" (Charter Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by J. Andy Thompson)
Heartfelt vocals with stiff phrasing and a limited range, balanced by somewhat brisk, almost trite, cut-and-paste countrypolitan arrangements. It does qualify as country, but within the context of the pop-orchestral crossovers of the 'Seventies. What redeems this, I suppose, is Mr. Blankenship's intense sincerity, and to a lesser extent his plainspoken vocals, which may suggest an odd combination of Buck Owens and Roger Miller. But the songs all sound a bit similar, with uneasy, endless transitions from one line to the next: this isn't a very smooth-sounding album, despite the syrupy string arrangements. This album showcases an all-Blankenship song list, with backing by an unidentified studio crew at the Ripcord Studios in Vancouver, Washington. There's a notable absence of pedal steel or other overt denominators of twang, but plenty of pert yet emotionally flat string arrangements. If you're not into Jesus music or the whole southern gospel/country crossover thing, this album probably won't do much to win you over, though it's still worth a nod from us twangfans.
Leroy Blankenship "To All Music Lovers All Over The World (Benson Sound, 1977-?) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Duggan & Gerald Tucker)
Billy Blanton "Me And Leroy Live At The Hanging Tree" (BAM Records, 1977) (LP)
Although he was born in Vandervoort, Arkansas, and appeared to have lived in the state for most of his life, country singer Billy Wayne Blanton (1934-2017) traveled throughout the South to build his career. He must have spent a considerable amount of time in the Southwest as well, since this album was recorded live in Yuma, Arizona, and his following LP came out on a label from New Mexico. Blanton's first record was a single from 1973, followed by one on an Arkansas label in '76. As far as I know, he didn't record anything after the late 1970s, though he does seem to have kept performing later in life. Blanton didn't have the deepest, most robust voice, but he was a solid and sincere honkytonker, at times with a hint of Ernest Tubb in his vocals. He seems particularly guileless and eager in the live banter on this concert album, recorded at a club that was named after one of Arizona's great western tall-tales.
Billy Blanton "Little Richie Records Presents Billy Blanton" (Little Richie, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Little Richie Johnson)
A fine album released on Richie Johnson's New Mexico-based label, though recorded in Nashville with a high power studio band (Lloyd Green, Buddy Harman, Dave Kirby, Hargus Robbins, Buddy Spicher, et.al.). The set list includes a couple of Leon Payne songs, a cover of the Kenny Rogers hit, "The Gambler," and Ed Bruce's "Texas When I Die." There are also three songs by Ray D. Willis: "Hell Ain't Half A Mile Away," "I Can Almost See Houston" and "I'm Here To Drink It All," which was a first-class novelty number that was later released as a single, as was Gene Crysler's "If I Ever Need A Lady." The liner notes give us a sense of how hard Blanton struggled to break through and how far he traveled for his career: he performed at concerts and TV shows in Georgia, Kansas, South Carolina and Texas, at the Louisiana Hayride, and at an event affiliated with the Grand Ole Opry, working with folks as disparate as Jim Nesbitt, Jimmy Gateley and Bill Mack. As far as I know, this was his last full album, though it sure sounded swell -- straight-up, steel-drenched honky-tonk with a good-natured, hard-partying vibe. Nice stuff.
Steve Bledsoe "The Many Sides Of Steve Bledsoe" (Superstar Records, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Bledsoe)
A country crooner on a label from Charles City, Iowa, Steve Bledsoe was a hillbilly bopper with a string of singles going back to the rockabilly era of the mid-1950s. At some point he started his own label, releasing numerous 45s and at least these two LPs. Looks like this one is all covers, stuff like "Never Ending Song Of Love," "Take Me Home Country Roads," "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" and "Me And Bobby McGee."
Steve Bledsoe "You're The Greatest Woman I've Known" (Superstar Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Bledsoe)
There's some original material on this one: Bledsoe wrote four original songs on the first side of this album: "You're The Greatest Woman," "Denver," "Walking In The Footsteps Of The Man" and "I See Lonesome" while Side Two features some interesting covers -- stuff from the Carter Family, Carl Butler and Gary S. Paxton, and a version of "City Of New Orleans," and "Crystal Chandeliers" a song by Ted Harris that was recorded by Carl Belew and Charley Pride... In the liner notes, Bledsoe pays allegiance to Nat King Cole, as well as Elvis and Marty Robbins, so he was in more of a mellow mode by the time the 'Seventies rolled around. There's no date on the album, but I'm guessing '75 based on a reference to an award somebody won in October, '74.
Blegen & Sayer "Classical Cartoon Music" (The Aardvark Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Wiese)
Gentle, oddball, eclectic hippie-folkie tunes from a Minneapolis duo who were active throughout the 'Seventies. Dan Blegen and Eric Sayer were talented multi-instrumentalists with a goofy sense of humor that was in a similar vein to the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, the Holy Modal Rounders and other comedic neo-trad stringband types of the era, playing whimsical material that was way out in left field. Although not quite the Carl Stalling/Raymond Scott lovefest implied by the album title, this disc does have some nutty stuff on it that will appeal to fans of the style. They performed as the musical backup for the Michael Hennessey Mime & Music Theatre, composing their own music, which is performed here with Blegen on flute, clarinet and other instruments and Sayer playing banjo, guitar and accordion. They are joined by a slew of equally obscure local musicians, including piano player Art Resnick and Russ Pahl on pedal steel and electric guitar, along with various horn players, tuba-ers, drummists and bass-lings, as well as the ever-cheerful New Lost Thunderbunny Chorus, which chimes in on a couple of tunes, including "Hoskey Noches," a minute-long masterpiece of hispano-nordic doublespeak worthy of Sid Caesar. The album includes plenty of instrumentals and novelty ditties such as "Garden Girl" ("...my hybrid baby"), "Toys For Your Bathtub," "The Big One" and "Did You Ever Bite Your Toenails With A Friend."
Dan Blocker & John Mitchum "Our Land Our Heritage" (RCA Victor, 1964) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Reisman)
A celebrity disc with a folkie/patriotic slant... The star of the show is Texas-born actor Dan Blocker, best known as "Hoss," from the TV western, Bonanza. Apparently Blocker wasn't much of a musician: he provides recitations, but it's fellow actor John Mitchum (Robert Mitchum's kid brother) who sings the songs. Pop producer Joe Reisman provided the arrangements.
Jenni Blocker & Neil Wayne "Two For The Road" (Safari Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Charles Fields & Johnny Howard)
A trip to Nashville resulted in this album by South Dakotans Jenni Blocker and Neil Bagaus (aka Neil Wayne) who had previously been in an amateur band called the Suns Of The West, which played several county fair-type events and talent contests but never really cracked into the professional country scene. The Suns recorded an album in 1974, though as far as I know, these were the only two records they made...
Brenda Blue "Ten Times The World" (Sunwood Records, 1980) (EP)
(Produced by Angel South & Bob Werner)
A four-song EP by singer Brenda Blue, who was a cast member of the Reno, Nevada production of Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, working with guitarist Angel South, formerly of the rock band Chase, who produced this disc. This was recorded in Reno with Brenda Blue on bass and vocals; Tony Booth (the same one?) playing bass, Jimmy Powell (steel guitar), Angel South (guitar), Billy Armstrong (fiddle) and others. There are three originals written by Blue: "Dirt And Stains," "Ten Times The World," and "Can't Say No Tonight," along with an oldie (from the '60s) called "Hee Haw Haw," by Oregon's Sally Wells. I'm assuming Brenda Blue was a stage name, but so far I haven't found any other info about her career...
Blue Denim Farmers "Old Time Favorites" (1975) (LP)
I guess this one's more of a "fair warning" for country fans... Despite the rural promise of their band name, The Blue Denim Farmers were in fact a local polka band from Fillmore County in southern Minnesota, where back in the day "old time music" was what they called polka and other ethnic dance music. The group also included several actual old timers, led by Walter William Henry Bicknese (1912–1999) on the banjo, his son Wayne W. Bicknese (1937-2020) on drums, Larry Meeker playing bass, accordionist Kenneth Niemeyer (1925-2003), and Ray Zimmer on trumpet. The band had its origins playing at social events for the local Farmers Union, dating back to the 1950s and they recorded this souvenir album at a St. Patrick's Day dance in the Pla-More Ballroom. It proved to be the band's swan song: a few year later in 1978 they disbanded, though two decades later Wayne Bicknese put together a New Blue Denim Farmers band, which released a CD in 2001. Anyway, it's not a country record, but it sure is local!
Jeff Blue "Love Songs And Trail Dust" (CVS Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Don D. Sheets)
The opening notes have a slick sound that promises a synthy, Top Forty wannabee, but things roll along on a slow, even keel, with Jeff Blue revealing himself to be an unabashed sentimental balladeer, earnestly crooning florid renditions of standards such as "After The Lovin'," "My Way" and Kuiokalaini Lee's "I'll Remember You." He's not a particularly compelling or original singer, but his sincerity and conviction are quite charming, and may win you over, if you have a forgiving nature. I suppose Don Williams is a good comparison, although Mr. Blue didn't cover any of Williams's hits, alas. There's no info on the album about where he's from, but he seems to have been in the orbit of the Little Nashville Opry, in Nashville, Indiana -- several of the regulars from that Hoosier hootenanny are involved with this album, including singers Shirley Kreutzjans and Marti Mae, as well as producer Don D. Sheets, who also ran the opry show. Musicians include Joe Edwards (multiple instruments), Jim Allen (ditto), Marti Mae (vocals), Rick Ferguson (bass), Shirley Kreutzjans (backing vocals), Don Davis (steel), Roger Fish (piano), with Mae also helping to mix the album. A very professional-sounding, but deeply "private label" recording.
Blue Jug "Blue Jug" (Capricorn, 1975)
These funky Southern rockers sounded a LOT like The Band though maybe they stuck more to deep-groove Southern funk... Anyway, they were pretty darn good. Apparently the band's principal songwriters went on to write songs for Molly Hatchet, while lead singer Ed Raetzloff got into the Contemporary Christian scene... go figure! There's some differences of opinion (or maybe just some fuzzy facts) about where they were from -- the label originally said they were from Virginia, though other sources say they were a Nashville band, backed in the studio by fiddler Buddy Spicher.
Blue Jug "Blue Jug" (Ariola, 1978)
Same title, same band, different album, still good.
Blue Mountain Classics "Live In Concert" (Muddy Creek Productions, 1981) (LP)
A bluegrass-based band that performed in the cast of a Missouri-based "opry" venue called the Ozark Mountain Jamboree, Blue Mountain Classics started out as a bluegrass trio featuring brothers Ben and Paul Weatherford. In stepping up to the Jamboree's main stage, the group took a more country- and rock-flavored sound, delivering zippy (one might even say slightly frantic) versions of contemporary hits by harmony-oriented Top Forty groups such as the Statler Brothers and the Gatlins. This album was recorded live at the Jamboree, and there's something a little too rickety and unsure about these performances, though as always it's nice to have a snapshot of what these regional "opry" bands sounded like in concert. Didn't do much for me, but it's okay.
Blue Ridge "Country Music" (Ridge Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Dean Raymer & Randy Hauser)
A quartet from St. Ann, Missouri, led by songwriter Bill Highley...
Blue Ridge "Country Music" (Ridge Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Dean Raymer & Randy Hauser)
This second album (same title, different songs) was recorded in Nashville with studio musicians Mike Shrimpf on keyboards.
Blue Ridge Country "Blue Ridge Country" (Mark IV Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Rusty York)
This appears to be a different group than the one above... These guys were from Spartansburg, South Carolina, though they went to the Jewel/Queen City studios in Cincinnati to record this album. Unfortunately, the liner notes don't include any of the band member's names, so they are more of a mystery band than many others... The repertoire is all cover songs, late 'Sixties, early 'Seventies country hits, with a little dip into more pop territory, such as their version of James Taylor's "Fire And Rain." Anyone know more about these folks?
Blue Ridge Rangers "Blue Ridge Rangers" (Fantasy, 1973)
(Produced by John Fogerty)
Awesome!! After Creedence Clearwater Revival imploded, John Fogerty got so fed up with the fratricidal aspects of actually being in a band, that he promptly went off and recorded an album all by himself -- played all the instruments, picked all the tunes, multi-tracked the album, and totally rocked out. This is the result, a masterful set of country oldies, covering artists such as Jimmie Rodgers, Webb Pierce and Melvin Endsley, all with a jocular, rolling bounciness that can't help but win you over. He perfectly captures the wild tang and explosive bang of old-school, rock-meets-hillbilly blues of the 1950s and early '60s. This is a really fun record, the kind that makes you sing along every time you hear it. Fun stuff!!
Blue Smoke "Mississippi Maserati Breakdown" (Mansion Records, 1988)
This is pretty late in the game, but this indie album from Bill Turner and his band Blue Smoke seems so retro that I'd say it deserves mention here, rather than in the modern Americana genre. The band's slick-yet-amateurish sound reminds me a bit of Rockpile,
Tommy Blue "Nature Of A Man" (TWC Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Walter Balderson & Jerome Haggert)
Originally from Long Island, singer Tommy Blue was also in a New York-based band called The Northwest Passage, which released an album on the TWC label at basically the same time as this one. Blue recorded most of this "solo" set down in Nashville, booking time at Bradley's Barn with usual-suspects studio crew that included Harold Bradley, Lloyd Green, Pete Wade, and the Lea Jane Singers. About half the songs are credited to R. Sanders, circa 1974-77, with two other songs credited to R. Landis and one called "Life's One Big Rip-Off," written by John Carlten (aka John C. Chumbley), who shared the Saddle Song publishing company with Sanders... Carlten played piano on the Northwest Passage album, although he wasn't officially listed as a member of the band. In addition to the original numbers, there are also songs by Kris Kristofferson, and oldies such as "A Fool Such As I" and Leon Payne's "They'll Never Take Her Love From Me."
The Blue Velvet Band "Sweet Moments With The Blue Velvet Band" (Warner Brothers, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Erik Jacobsen)
A smooth but sweet major-label album made when the '70s newgrass scene was still just around the bend. There's certainly a power-packed lineup: Bill Keith and Jim Rooney join up with fiddler Richard Greene (who had just served his own apprenticeship with Bill Monroe) and guitarist Eric Weissberg in his pre-Deliverance days... people often cite this as a pioneering bluegrass record, but I just don't hear much high-lonesome here, rather, it seems like a tradition-oriented hippie country set, with most of the "rock" sensibility set aside in favor of old-fashioned twang and a little bit of Bakersfield bounce. The repertoire is a swell mix of Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, a Luke Wills western-swing oldie and a cover of Merle Haggard's "Somebody Else You've Known," with these guys scooping the Flying Burrito Brothers by a year or two. The also show deep folk scene roots with a reading of "The Knight Upon The Road," and version of the Appalachian murder ballad "Little Sadie." I think it's Jim Rooney singing lead, and I have to admit he's an acquired taste. For the first few tracks you might think there's a hint of parody in his voice -- after a while, though, you'll realize it's just the plain-spoked way that he sings, not some kind of nudge-nudge, wink-wink thing. There are only two original tracks on here, including one of the album's strongest songs, "Hitch-Hiker," a cheerful novelty number written by Weissberg that captures some of the feel of the times. I guess this has been reissued on CD, though the original LP is worth tracking down just to enjoy the hilarious "board game" drawing and text that Eric von Schmidt designed for the inside of the gatefold sleeve. A long out-of-print landmark album that is more of a quiet, iconoclastic nugget than an earthshaking stylistic game-changer.
Bluefield "Bluefield" (Mercury, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Pete Drake & Ronnie Light)
This band featured Lang Scruggs and Joe Scruggs (cousins of Earl) along with Linda Hargrove on piano, Hoot Hester on fiddle, and Paul Franklin playing dobro & steel. The set list includes a few pop covers ("A Taste Of Honey," "I Can See Clearly Now") along with Alan Munde's "Molly Bloom," and a couple of Linda Hargrove songs -- indeed it seems like this was an under-the-radar Hargrove outing, as much as anything else. The Scruggs brothers seem to have grown up in San Angelo, Texas, or at least they went to high school there...
The Bluegrass Band "The Bluegrass Band" (Smoggy Valley Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Dennis Coats)
Not to be confused with the Rounder Records powerhouse, The Bluegrass Album Band, this scruffy quartet from the Spokane, Washington played a lot of bluegrass and country-rock/country-folk covers -- tunes by Bill Monroe, one by Gib Gilbeau, "Ramblin' Man" by the Allman Brothers, Steve Goodman's "City Of New Orleans" -- and also recorded a couple of original songs by banjo picker Dennis Coats, "Fiddlin' Round" and "Another Cowboy Song." It's an eclectic mix that certainly earns them a mention in the hippiebilly annals. Sadly, the copy of this album I saw was too thrashed to pick up, but I'm sure it'll float my way again sometime... Anyone have more info about these folks?
The Bluegrass Experience "Live At The Pier" (Roundhole Records, 1976-?) (LP)
A lively, enthusiastic set from these North Carolinians... A little choppy, but with an interesting song selection that had enough grassed-up country and rock material that I figured it could fit in here as well. Apparently the band had its roots in the early '70s, when they won a national old-timey championship, and they were highly regarded in North Carolina. I don't recognize most of the pickers, other than fiddler Al McCanless, who also cut a Folkways album with the Red Clay Ramblers. Anyway, this is some nice stuff from some real locals. Recommended!
The Bluegrass Kats "Kattin' Around" (Playhouse Productions, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Laura Smith)
This obscuro bluegrass combo had a regular TV gig playing on Wilmington, North Carolina's WWAY for most of the 1970s, dating back six years before this album was made. They also seem to have played at the Pageland Theater in Pageland, South Carolina, which hosted the Sandhill Opry (the same venue that gave Randy Travis a leg-up when he was starting his career...) The group consisted of McCoy Gardiner (banjo), Tommy Simmons (rhythm guitar), "Little Tommy" Simmons (mandolin), Roscoe Canady (bass), Danny Stanley (lead guitar) and Nashville studio player Joe Thomas sitting in on fiddle. Like many off-the-radar 'grass groups, these guys went on to play in innumerable other little bands: Roscoe Canady and the Simmonses formed a group called the East Coast Boys, while Danny Stanley was in Carolina Sonshine and later in the Gentlemen Of Bluegrass. Mostly just listing them here because of the connection to the Sandhill Opry venue...
Bluejohn "Boots And Bottles" (Black River Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Bryce Roberson, Jim Spillane & Brad Thrower)
A relatively country-oriented set by Michigan folk-rockers Jim Spillane and Brad Thrower, two buddies from Swartz Creek, who worked together in a series of late 'Sixties/early 'Seventies bands, including the folkie trio Thrower, Spillane & McFarland, as well as Thrower's "solo" band, Saloon Music. Granted, this tilts towards spacey, jam-band self-indulgence, but they do tip their hats towards a few legit twangtunes, including a version of the countrypolitan chart-topper "Satin Sheets" and the Lost Gonzo Band's "London Homesick Blues." What attracts collectors in the "acid folk" genre to these guys -- the freaky, stoned, disorganized ramblings -- don't do much for me, but I'm not king of the universe yet, so feel free to groove out on the YouTube vids if you please. Among the musicians backing them are steel player D. Hooker Arnold and fiddler O. J. Dunn, who may have been in other local bands, though I haven't found any trace of them elsewhere; bassist/guitar picker Brad Thrower also tried his hand at strummin' on the old banjo.
The Bluemont Singers "At The Castaway" (Brass Record Company, 1964) (LP)
(Produced by George W. Hodes, Jr.)
Real-deal, genuine 'Sixties folk revival material from a clean-cut Kansas City quintet that used to play at a venue called Castaways. This is less country-oriented than most of the records I'm reviewing here, but I just couldn't resist the Midwest connection. Plus, these folks were pretty good -- they play straight-up Kingston Trio/Backporch Majority-style coffeehouse folk, bluesy acoustic folk, prim spirituals and some decent bluegrass, too. Really, they were on a par with what bands were playing on the East Coast, with just a hint of the jugband scene as well. The group included founding members Larry Dimmit, Galen Slifer and Dave Warner, joined by bassist Byron Schlosser and a gal banjo player, Jackie Haines, who was a pretty good picker. A little-known but pretty sharp regional folk group, definitely worth a spin if you like the style.
Bluerock "Bluerock" (Fiddlesticks/Aleatoric, 198-?) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Mrozonski, Tom Dougherty & Bluerock)
Not to be confused with the later modern alt-twang band called Blue Rock, this was an indie twang band from Spooner, Wisconsin which featured fiddler Susan Pederson and her husband, drummer Ken Pederson, who was also owned a local nightclub called Fiddlesticks, where they often played. The songs are all covers, with well-known stuff by Ray Wylie Hubbard, Townes Van Zandt and good old Hank Williams, along with more obscure twang tunes such as George Frayne's "Got To Be One Of Those Nights" (from his Commander Cody days) and "Riding High," written by upstate New Yorker Dick Solberg, a song that Bluerock also released as a single... By the way, anyone know what year this came out? I'm guessing very early '80s, like around '81 or '82...(?)
Bluerock "Style" (Bluerock Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Miles Wilkinson)
A second album by this Shell Lake, Wisconsin twangband... The lineup includes Rick Marshall on guitar, Sue Pederson (fiddle), Ken Pederson (drums), Gary Nielsen (piano), and Jack White on bass, with producer Miles Wilkinson also chiming in on guitar. The album seems to be about half cover songs, including some old-timey oldies such as "May The Circle Be Unbroken," "Orange Blossom Special" and "Uncle Pen," as well as a cover of Keith Sykes' "Oh, What A Feelin'," which had recently been recorded by Rodney Crowell. Five of the tracks are credited to White Songs publishing, which I assume is the band's own imprint.
Sterling Blythe "Sterling Blythe Sings" (Crown Records, 1960-?) (LP)
A fairly obscure figure with roots in the 1950s hillbilly scene, Robert Sterling Blythe (1923-2001) was an Elvis-era cast member on The Louisiana Hayride and cut several uptempo singles that are considered on the fringe of the rockabilly sound. According to the liner notes on this album, he wrote songs that were recorded by stars such as Eddy Arnold and Red Foley, and also acted in numerous western and war films, including a slew of Gene Autry films. (Documentation of these film roles is pretty slight, though -- no trace of them online as far as I can tell...) Blythe was born in Lexington, Kentucky and seems to have worked in some Cincinnati clubs, though he probably hit Hollywood too, since he recorded for the Sage & Sand label, a haven for singing cowboys such as Hal Southern and his crowd. This album has a curious blend of chunky, primitive songwriting with thick, Johnny Cash-like vocals and slick, poppy arrangements and zippy electric guitar. As wit many of these cheapo albums, the musicians are uncredited, though they may have included Crown regulars such as guitarist Jerry Cole. Who can remember? Anyway, it's kinda fun stuff.
Sterling Blythe "Night At The Showboat With Sterling Blythe" (Sage Records, 1961-?) (LP)
Sterling Blythe "Ring Of Fire, Wolverton Mountain And Other Country And Western Hits" (Crown Records, 1965-?) (LP)
Jimmy Boatright "What's His Face" (Rea Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Faron Young & Doug McDowell)
A likeable presence, if not totally an A-list singer, Southern California's Jimmy Boatright had solid hard-country roots and a clear love of traditional honky-tonk country. For several decades, Boatright and his wife Rea owned a popular country bar in the Los Angeles suburb of Agoura Hills, near Simi Valley. They bought the Quarter Horse Inn in 1974, after Mr. Boatright had led the house band there for several years. They changed the bar's name to Casa Rea in 1976 for insurance purposes, after a drunken cop shot someone one night, running as a combination nightclub and Mexican restaurant. Somewhere along the way, he met country star Faron Young, who produced this album, with strong backing by an unidentified studio crew that I suspect may actually have included members of Faron Young's band, the Deputies. (The graphics on this LP cover resemble those of some of the Deputies' "solo" records...) Other than a cover of Harlan Howard's "Another Bridge To Burn," many of these songs are pretty obscure; a version of Billy Joe Shaver's "Black Rose" places this album sometime after 1973. The Boatrights sold their bar in 2001, and retired to Nevada.
Bob & The Bluetones "Presenting The Bluetones" (Pass Time Records, 19--?) (LP)
A country-rock cover band from Wonderlake, Illinois. Bob Beaman, his brother Ben and a few of their pals got together in a basement studio to record this set of (mostly country) cover songs -- with stuff by Waylon & Willie, Gordon Lightfoot, a couple of Bob McDill tunes, one by Michael Dinner(!) and two more by Allen Reynolds. It's an uber-DIY-just-for-family-and-friends-looking project, with minimal artwork and even less in the way of liner notes. I'm just guessing, but I'd say, um, maybe 1980-81 for this one? Maybe a little earlier?
Bob & Dean (McNett) "McNett Country" (Jewel Records, 19--?) (LP)
A legendary local duo from Pennsylvania, Bob and Dean McNett led their band from the early 1960s almost to the end of the '70s, later taking a gig as part of the Hank Williams homage band, the Drifting Cowboys. This was an early '70s album, featuring covers of hits such as Mel Tillis's "Commercial Affection" and "Green Green Grass Of Home," while also dipping deep into older country traditions. Sadly, there are no real liner notes, so I'm not sure if there are any original tunes on here or not, or who was backing them on these sessions... Also, it has to be said that they sounded a bit over-the-hill, or at least low-energy, on this album... Maybe that was just their style, I dunno. They sound tremendously authentic and sincere, but just in musical terms this record might be a little inaccessible to the average twangfan. I like it, though, mostly for their real-hicks vibe. A reconstituted version of the McNett Country band came together in Y2K, and has been held together ever since, with second-generation singer Shawn and Tim McNett as the front men.
Bob & Marie "Ten Years At The Duncan" (Green Valley Recording, 19--?) (LP)
The Pennsylvania duo of guitarist Bob Ramsey and piano player Marie Wilcox enjoyed a long residency as the house band at the Duncan Tavern in Antrim, PA, a tiny mining town southwest of Harrisburg. They were certainly conscious of their audience's roots in coal country, with cartoon silhouettes of miners on the album cover, and a set list that included songs such as "I'm Just An Old Chunk Of Coal," "Coal Miner's Daughter" along with other country covers, like "Bloody Mary Morning," et. al. as well as a regional-pride song called "Antrim, PA."
Bobbi And Clyde "...And The Seaweed Cowboys" (BCS Records, 19--?) (LP)
Southern California's Bobbi McGavran and Clyde Lucas worked in a wide variety of venues, including a stint as the house band at Knott's Berry Farm, gigs with various country rockers and later, work in film and TV. This album was made with Bill Cunningham and J. Scott Hendrickson, who wrote about half the songs on the album. Not sure of the year on this one, but I think it's of late 1970s vintage.
Bobbi Jane "Bobbi Jane" (Pentagon Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Alan J. Dote)
Some Bay Area country, recorded at Alan J. Dote's Side A Productions studio, based in Millbrae, California, just south of San Francisco. As on other albums Dote produced, there's a profusion of material he wrote himself, although Ms. Jane is credited on two songs, "Looking For Mr. Right," and "I Guess It's Crying Time Again," both songs also published by Dote's own company. Singer Bobbi Jane was decidedly a back-bencher, really not a very good vocalist, although she threw herself into it with great gusto, and a few songs work as rudimentary country thumpers, albeit with a strong whiff of so-bad-it's-good kitschiness. The more straightforward country numbers are best, though a disco-era hangover is present throughout, in the persistent presence of a cheesy keyboard-synth. The keyboards are unleashed in a bombastic solo on "Gone Too Long," a straight disco pop song that's kind of jarring in comparison to the rest of the record. Overall, I have to admit there's not a lot to recommend this record, although obscuro-twang fans (like me) may enjoy it for its very DIY-ishness. The liner notes say she had her own band, and had done gigs in Reno and Vegas, so there may be more to this album than just he pay-to-play vanity pressing it seems to be.
Bob-O-Links "Country Born..." (American Artist Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Higgins
This was the first souvenir album made for the Bob-O-Links Country Hoe-Down, a Branson, Missouri mom'n'pop opry show started in 1977 by Bob Mabe, one of several brothers who started the Baldknobbers Jamboree back in 1959. He and his wife Sue Mabe quit the Baldknobbers in 1976 and started this venue the following year, parking it near a motel and restaurant they also owned in the area. One thing leaps out at you right away: the wealth of country music talent that existed outside of Nashville. This was a very skilled and professional-sounding ensemble, with Bob Mabe as emcee, Byron Arnold on steel guitar, Steve Crouch (drums), Rick Friend (banjo and guitar), Linda Henry (vocals), Randy Newman (fiddle), and Johnny Patton on lead guitar. Singer-pianist Donna Hale solos on a couple of tracks (later she changed her name to Donna Dixon); also featured are comic Don Koonce (later billed as "Tom Thumbpickitt") and the Rex Burdette Family cloggers, aka "the Hoe-Downers." The repertoire is notably modern, mostly contemporary hits with a couple of faves from the 'Sixties, such as "Tippy Toein'," and "You Gave Me A Mountain," as well as a little outlaw stuff, like "Luckenbach, Texas." There are some oldies, but not the same proportion of bluegrass and gospel you'd normally see in these Ozark opry shows, so maybe when he started out Mabe wanted to set himself apart from his old venue. Whatever the plan was, the record sounds good!
Bob-O-Links "Country '83" (Aardvark Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Kenny Gott & Ralph Plank)
Fun stuff... I like this one! Many of the musicians are the same, with a few new faces... Bob Mabe is still emcee and leader of the band, picking, singing and cracking corny jokes, zipping through a jovial performance packed with contemporary hits such as John Anderson's "Swingin'," Guy Clark's "Heartbroke," "Come On In," and "Tennessee River," as well as some oldies ("Why Baby Why" and "Last Date"), a little dab of bluegrass and a bunch of gospel tunes to close things out. Sue Mabe plays piano, with Eddie Lane on lead guitar, Arnie Arnold (steel guitar), Donna Dalton (piano), Randy Newman on fiddle, Don McAlee (banjo), Steve Maples (bass), Linda Henry on vocals and Don Koonce providing comic relief as "Tom Thumbpickitt" and even some clogging by the Burdette Family Square Dancers. Honestly, I do enjoy this album... there's no original content, but the band is into it and projects an air of joyfulness that doesn't always come through on this kind of souvenir album. They also get surprisingly funky on some of the opening numbers, with some playful guitar licks and lively rhythm. Worth a spin!
Bob-O-Links "Country '84" (1984) (LP)
(Produced by Kenny Gott & Ralph Plank)
The following year, covers included "Long Tall Texan," "Houston," "Y'All Come Back Saloon," and "He Stopped Loving Her Today," along with more oldies, less bluegrass, and another round of gospel tunes to finish things off... There are also dips into more pop/soul territory, with versions of "Slow Dance" and "Take Me To The River." I'm not sure if the band had the same lineup as on the previous record... I'm also not sure if this one came out on vinyl, or only on cassette, or if other records came out beside these two. The Bob-O-Links show, which was the fifth variety revue opened in Branson, had a large, 1800-seat amphitheater, and was run by Bob and Sue Mabe until the early 1990s, when they sold the venue to another group.
Bob-O-Links "Tuesday Night Live" (Aard-Vark Recording, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Kenny Gott & John Jacobson & Mark Roy)
A 2-LP set spanning bluegrass, gospel and contemporary country... The inclusion of a couple of Waylon & Willie tunes -- "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," "On The Road Again" -- and a cover of "Elvira" leads me to think this probably came out around 1980, '81 or thereabouts.
Bo Conrad Spit Band "Bo Conrad Spit Band" (Artronics Records, 19--?) (LP)
An early '70s jug band from Saint Paul, Minnesota, the BCSB was founded in 1969 and played gigs throughout the Midwest before disbanding in '75. And, yes, there actually was a guy named Harold "Bo" Conrad in the band -- he played guitar and -- true story -- won the National Soap Box Derby in 1963, when he was just twelve years old. A bunch of their repertoire was original material, too -- fun, good-natured stuff!
Bodine "Bodine" (MGM Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Cowsill Jr., Angel Balestier, Bob Porter & Val Valentin)
Longhaired rock with an element of twang, though despite the rural vibe, it's pretty heavy on loud, shrill, piercing electric guitars and hard-rock riffs. Lots of riffs. Lots and lots of riffs. The softer tunes, along with the underlying twang, might marginally earn this one a "country rock" tag, but there's too much bashing about and noisy clatter for my tastes. I couldn't really say I'd recommend this one. Some band members were originally from various Seattle garage bands, notably one called The Daily Flash, and they worked in the SF Bay Area psychedelic scene for a while, then moved down to LA, where all the action was; one of the guys played on a Doors album. Which is not a badge of honor, if you ask me. Anyway, this was their only album... If you're a twangfan, you were warned.
Dick Bodine "America" (Great American Records, 1983) (LP)
This is the kind of kitschy album cover that folks like to make fun of online... and in this case, I say, go for it! Posed in front of Old Glory with a rifle in hand and a pistol on the table, Mr. Bodine was a middle-aged Coloradan who included some overtly patriotic songs, like "The Pledge" "Why Are you Marching Son," and "Our Flag," along with more politically neutral folk tunes like "I Gave My Love A Cherry" and "City Of New Orleans," as well as country stuff like "Sixteen Tons." I'm not into the whole flashing firearms thing, but the twang is fine: accompanying Mr. Bodine was multi-instrumentalist Doc Hoffman and bassist Marty Hill. I couldn't find any biographical info out about this guy, though as far as I know this was his only album. (Thanks to the North Of Pueblo blog for background info on this one...)
Johnathan Boggs "Pretty Words" (Self-Released, 19--?) (LP) *
A privately released album from Grand Rapid, Michigan... Not sure of the year, but it looks 1980s... And, yes, that's how he spelled his name...
Larry Boggs & The Country Round-Ups "That Look Of Leaving" (Redwood City Sound, 1976) (LP)
This humble honkytonk band from Ashland, Kentucky sure played a bunch of drinkin' and cheatin' songs -- "Bottle And Bars," "Seagram Seven," "Secret Angel," etc. The quintet was led by singer Larry Boggs, along with Tom Dixon on bass, Dewey LeMaster playing rhythm guitar and Larry Boggs' sister, Denise Sweeney, who was Larry Boggs' sister, who was apparently married to drummer Mike Sweeney at the time.
Debbie Bohanan "Just Look This Way" (Thunderhead Records, 1979) (LP)
Singer Debbie Bohanan (1963-2014) was a Knoxville native who started performing professionally as a teen back in the 1970s, working as a cast member of Bonnie Lou & Buster's Smoky Mountain Hayride show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. She went on to perform in several other "opry"-style revues, including The Carolina Opry and the Down Home Dixie Review in Gatlinburg. Bohanan rounded out her career as part of the Comedy Barn Theater, back in Pigeon Forge, where she both sang and did comedic numbers... She recorded at least three albums including this debut disc which is mostly cover songs, though the title track is her own original.
Debbie Bohanan "Back Home In Tennessee" (Thunderhead Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Debbie Bohanan, Marcus Shirley & Charley Whaley)
Debbie Bohanan "Always On My Mind" (Transworld Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Debbie Bohanan & Joe Deaton)
Calvin Boles "Favorites And Originals" (Yucca Records, 1960-?) (LP)
A true legend of New Mexico's music scene, Alamagordo entrepreneur Calvin Boles was an insurance agent by day and kooky country singer at night. He started his own label in 1958, Yucca Records, which became one of the Southwest's best-known indies, recording rockabilly singers such as Bobby Fuller and Jerry Bright, as well as numerous obscure country artists, the best known of which was probably Al Sims. In addition to releasing over two hundred singles on the Yucca label, Boles recorded eight albums under his own name, backed by his band, the Rocket City Playboys which included his wife Betty on bass. This first album was an even mix of cover tunes and originals -- though of modest talent both as a performer and composer, Boles was a prolific songwriter and sang with a jovial air, even if his voice was kind of thin. He sings classics by Al Dexter, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb, alongside his own heartsongs and novelty numbers. A couple of the tracks on this album are regional pride songs as well as topical tunes: on "From Arrows To Rockets" cheerfully outlines Alamagordo's history as the site where the first atomic bomb was developed and tested, while "Ballad Of John Prather" takes this patriotic fervor and turns it on its head, telling the story of how one local rancher defied the government's use of eminent domain and kept on his ranch even after Alamagordo became a full-time rocket testing site. The other songs are straight-up country and although Calvin Boles was not a powerful singer, this album resonates with authenticity and good cheer. Definitely worth checking out!
Calvin Boles "This Is Calvin Boles" (Yucca Records, 19--?) (LP)
This was his second album, and features an all-original slate of songs, most of which are purely his, along with a couple co-written with friends. There's a lot of novelty material, including "Guitar Pickin' Man," "Finally Twenty-One" and "You Giggle Too Much," which he also released as a single. One track, "The Snake," features a long narration where Boles talks in a faux-Latino accent (weech I theenk ees a leetel painful to heeere now, een our enlightened age of thee future...) but other than that one unintentional misfire, this is a good set of rugged, authentic desert-country honkytonk. Boles still wasn't that great a singer, but there is a certain naif-art purity to his songs which will resonate with fans of old-school twang. The liner notes are great, too, that kind of heart-on-the-sleeve, TMI sort of thing where amateur musicians talk in great detail about their lives -- how he was born in Seymour, Texas, where he went to school, how he worked as a shoe shine and a milk delivery boy as a kid, went into the Army, etc. Boles closes by saying his one great wish is to have a national hit, and while that never happened, he sure made some fun records along the way.
Calvin Boles "New Mexico: Ballads Of The Southwest" (Yucca Records, 1963-?) (LP)
Calvin Boles "Nine Months To Live" (Yucca Records, 19--?) (LP)
Calvin Boles "Country Dozen" (Yucca Records, 19--?) (LP)
Calvin Boles "Walkin' Beside You" (Yucca Records, 19--?) (LP)
Jim Bolin "Songs For Squares" (Andrea Records, 1978) (LP)
An amiable baritone from Dallas, Texas, Jim Bolin sang sleepy renditions of country ballads and folkie epics like "The Blizzard," as well as Red Foley-esque renditions of gospel classics "How Great Thou Art" and "Just A Closer Walk." Bolin dedicated this album to his daughter Andrea, who was eleven years old at the time, and presumably the inspiration for the little girl who asks "What Is A Square?" a novelty recitation tune defending old-fashioned all-American values against the lazy hedonism of the hippie welfare bums... Other highlights include similar cornball patriotic songs, including "The Last Farewell" and Bobby Bare's "God Bless America Again." Unfortunately, there are no producer or musician credits included, though I can't help but wonder if Dallas local Smokey Montgomery might have led the backing back, who provide solid, if not particularly dynamic accompaniment: one of the songs Bolin covers is a version of Montgomery's mega-schmaltzy "My Friend, My Friend." This isn't really a very dynamic record, but there's plenty of kitsch value, as well as Bolin's palpable sincerity and dedication to the music.
Jay Bolotin "Jay Bolotin" (Commonwealth United, 1970) (LP)
The Bonanzas "A Night With The Bonanzas" (Copre Records, 19--?) (LP)
An Arizona-based band, with members Bobby Bower, Barney Carl and John Spaugh... They sang covers of mainstream country tunes, though they were definitely longhairs. Probably a bar-band somewhere, though I haven't dug up their history yet.
Bobby Bond "On The Country Side" (Time Records, 1964) (LP)
Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, songwriter Bobby Bond headed for Nashville in the early 1960s, after trying to make it as a rock/pop musician on the West Coast. Like many talented pickers, he found Music City pretty tough and worked odd jobs while trying to get his foot in the door. Also, like many others before him, he found work as a sound-alike artist, recording for the kind of cheapo labels that knocked off albums full of cover songs and hits of the day, the original artist's name emblazoned on the cover, while the actual performers (like Bond) were lucky if their names appeared in print anywhere. Bond was one of the lucky ones, getting his own name on the labels, and eventually after several years of this kind of work he came to the attention of country-folk crooner George Hamilton IV, who recorded several of Bond's original compositions, starting in 1968 with the song, "Back To Denver," followed by several others. His biggest success came with the song "Six White Horses," which several artists took into the charts, and though Bond got the chance to record for a few "real" record labels -- Warner Brothers and Hickory -- he never was able to make more than a few minor ripples on the charts. (In 1972, his cover version of "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" peaked at #66 in Billboard, and was his lone entry on the charts as a performer...)
Bobby Bond "...Sings Hits Made Famous By Roger Miller And Other Country Songs" (Somerset Records, 1965) (LP)
I have to confess, I have a strange fascination with the "sound-alike" artists who recorded entire albums of knockoff imitations of popular hits for shady labels such as Crown, Spin-O-Rama, Somerset and others. Bobby Bond was one of these sound-alike artists, who did, um "tribute" records to Roger Miller and Jim Reeves, but who also scored a minor hit with a 1972 cover of Jim Croce's "You Don't Mess Around With Jim." The sound-alike albums are a real historical curio: often they were packaged in such a way to make you think that the original artist and the real versions were included on the album, and there was an obvious attempt to bilk folks out of their hard-earned cash. Someday I'd love to research them (although I suspect someone already has...) Anyway, here are Mr. Bond's contributions to the genre...
Bobby Bond/Earl Cupit "A Country Boy Looks Down That Lonesome Road" (Somerset Recrds, 1966) (LP)
A split LP with Cupit singing Side One, and Bond on the flip. All the songs are covers of popular country and folk-country songs of the era, including songs by Bobby Bare, George Hamilton IV, etc.
Bobby Bond "I Remember Jim Reeves" (Somerset Records, 1966) (LP)
Bobby Bond "On The Country Side" (Time Records, 196-?) (LP)
Eddie Bond "Sings Greatest Country Gospel Hits" (Philips International/Advance Records, 1962-?) (LP)
Eddie Bond "My Choice Is Eddie Bond" (Country Circle Records, 1966-?) (LP)
The first secular LP by singer Eddie Bond (1933-2013), a pioneering rockabilly star from Memphis, Tennessee. Bond is perhaps most famous for being the guy who told a teenage Elvis Presley not to quit his day job when Elvis auditioned for a gig with Bond's band, back in 1954. That anecdote naturally overshadows a lot of Bond's own accomplishments and career, but even though he had limited success at the time, Bond was later lauded by rockabilly fans and his early stuff is available in various collections. Also like many first-generation rockabilly artists, Eddie Bond turned to country music when the rock'n'roll scene died down, and recorded a few LPs in the early '70s that were pretty twangy and rural. According to the liner notes by deejay Jim Wells, of KWAM, Memphis. this was Bond's first album, and though there's no date on it, it seems to be a mid-1960s release, with covers of songs such as "Big Boss Man," although most of the record seems to be original material written by Bond, including a few tunes he'd been performing locally since the 1950s. Among the juicier titles are "Double Duty Loving," "Only One Minute More," "Someday I'll Sober Up." No info on who was backing him up, though, alas.
Eddie Bond "...Sings Favorites" (Millionaire Records, 19--?) (LP)
Eddie Bond "Caution: Eddie Bond Music Is Contagious" (Tab Records, 1972) (LP)
The title track to this album, "Caution," was also released as a single on the Stax label's imprint, Enterprise Records, leading to a subsequent album tied to the release of the Buford Pusser biopic, Walking Tall.
Eddie Bond "The Legend Of Buford Pusser" (Stax/Enterprise Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Chesnut, Jack Clement & Eddie Bond)
For those of you not around in the early 1970s, when the movie Walking Tall was in theaters -- or in constant re-runs on TV -- let me fill you in on the backstory. Buford Pusser was the hardass sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee, fictionalized in numerous films and TV shows as an incorruptible, indestructible good ole boy tank of a man, who cleaned up the Tennessee border of the so-called Dixie Mafia, despite numerous attempts to kill him. Indeed, in real life Mr. Pusser was shot and stabbed on several occasions, and during one assassination attempt, his wife was shot and killed, an incident which some say transformed the already-volatile lawman into a remorseless vigilante. The fictional versions of his life were generally fetishistic glorifications of manly retribution and violence, with the portrayal of Pusser as an unstoppable law-and-order reformer making Walking Tall roughly into the redneck equivalent of Serpico. Country singer Eddie Bond claims to have been one of Pusser's deputies, and he really throws himself into this concept album which is loosely based on Pusser's career. The album is packed with jaunty, uptempo, Jerry Reed-esque redneck tunes, as well as a few honkytonk weepers and gospel songs that are sort of shoe-horned into the project. He's got a good band backing him, and though they aren't identified on the album, it's probably safe to assume that more than a few were from the Stax/Muscle Shoals studio scene.
Eddie Bond/Various Artists "A NIGHT AT THE EDDIE BOND RANCH" (Tab Record Company, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Eddie Bond)
Another obscuro-oddity from Memphis, Tennessee... Ex-rockabilly country singer Eddie Bond did apparently have his own ranch, out on West Mitchell Road... Whether it was a live music venue, a recording studio, or what, I'm not sure, but regardless, this is kind of a fun little album. By and large, the participants seem to have been real, live good old boys, charmingly unpolished, amateur musicians, dudes with thick rural accents and a relaxed, down home vibe. By and large they're kind of indistinguishable (although one guy sang with a lisp, which is kinda cute) though a couple of them had rather colorful names, such as Cousin Bo-Jack and Major Pruett, along with the more prosaic Dale Beaty, Bobby Davis, Leon Griffin and Wilford Ray. The backing band, The Stompers, was a rock-solid country crew, with plenty of steel guitar for those who like that kinda thing. Standing out from the pack was gal singer Sandi Stevens, who sounds quite a bit like Skeeter Davis on her lone number, "Tonight I'll Celebrate." Bond steals the show with a remarkable divorce/breakup song, "I'm Free," while Cousin Bo-Jack (Bobby) Killingsworth plays two songs, one at the end of each side of the original LP. Apparently it was Killingsworth who introduced Eddie Bond to lawman Buford Pusser, leading to Bond recording the hit single, "The Ballad of Buford Pusser," which doubtless helped with a few payments on the old ranch, and probably helped finance this album. Anyway, good stuff here.
Eddie Bond "...Sings Carl Smith" (Balser Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Russ Balser)
A tribute to Carl Smith? Dude, I'm in.
Jack Bond "...Sings Country Western All Time Greats" (Sterling Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by William Beasley)
Another cheapo/knockoff album from the Nashville-based Hit Records/Spar/Modern Sound empire... This album was, I think, all cover songs - country oldies and standards such as "A Satisfied Mind," "Candy Kisses," "Just Out Of Reach," "He'll Have To Go," etc., although a couple of tracks might have been originals: "My World's A Blue World" and "Best Years Of Your Life."
Jack Bond "...Sings Phantom 309" (Modern Sound Records) (LP)
More cover songs by Music City hired hand Jack Bond... This disc features several trucking songs, along with more general-purpose country weepers and barroom ballads, such as "The Bottle Let Me Down," "Sam's Place," "Skid Row Joe," "Unmitigated Gall," and others. I don't think there were any originals on this one...
Jonny & Sue Bondz "...Sing Original Country" (Bondz Records, 198--?) (LP)
Not to be confused with Texas honkytonker Johnny Bond, New York state native John Bondzinski was a multi-instrumentalist perhaps best known for his work as a steel guitar player, and for his song, "I've Played Second Fiddle (For The Last Time)," which he first recorded for Starday back in the mid-'60s. Bondzinski played gigs in and around his hometown of Glens Falls, NY as well as across the border in Vermont, and opened a music store called Bondz Music, which he ran for several years before moving down to Wildwood, Florida with his wife Susan. They were living in the Sunshine State when they recorded this album, which is filled with all-original material, including songs like "Second Fiddle," "Happy State Of Mind" and "In A Redneck Bar." I think they're the only two musicians on here -- they both sing and he played a variety of instruments, through the magic of multi-tracking, and they are "backed" by their pet drum machine, who they nicknamed "Winchester."
The Bonner Family "Finally" (Records & Productions, Inc., 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Russ Gary)
A family album by a country harmonizing family band from Rancho Cucamonga, California. Their father, Jim Bonner, was originally from Buffalo, NY where as a kid he worked playing piano in local groups such as Guy McAdams band, but he moved out West in the early '70s and settled down in San Bernardino County. He taught his kids how to play country music and they were eventually discovered by independent producer Overton Lee who got them gigs at Southern California venues such as the Mule Lip Saloon and the Palomino Club in Hollywood, as well as at county fairs and other events. The Bonners were kind of on a roll when they made this album, doing TV shows and recording at least one album... It looks like there's a lot of original material on this album, with several songs credited to "G. Davis."
Rob Bonner "Start All Over Again" (JVR Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Rob Bonner)
Songwriter Rob Bonner was part of the Sacramento, California folk/bluegrass/stringband scene, and has stalwarts such as Allan Hendricks and the South Loomis Quickstep band backing him, as well as Joe Craven playing mandolin on some songs. As far as I know this was his only album...
Bonnie & Clyde "The Other Side Of Bonnie & Clyde" (Hillside Country Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Williams Earl & Jack Linneman)
I'm not much one on the judge-a-book approach to album art pop-mockery, though I gotta say, this is one scary looking record cover! In this case, Bonnie and Clyde were Bonnie and William Earl, a husband-wife duo from Deland, Florida who worked the Southern coastal resort circuit as well as a lot of gigs in Las Vegas and Reno. Side One of this album features all original material by Billy Earl, while Side Two is cover songs, ranging from "Wabash Cannonball" and "They Call The Wind Maria" to contemporary hits such as "Take Me Home Country Roads" and "Let Me Be There."
Bonnie Lou & Buster "Hymn Time" (Waterfall Records, 1963) (LP)
Bonnie Lou & Buster "...Sing Country Bluegrass And Gospel" (Angel Records, 1977) (LP)
A husband-wife duo who were regulars on the Smokey Mountain Hayride, and whose careers stretched back to the 1940s. Hubert "Buster" Moore (1920-1995) was from rural Tennessee, and worked in various hillbilly and bluegrass bands before and after the war, including stints with Carl Story and Eddie Hill. After Moore met and married Margaret Bell, they formed their own band and changed her stage name to Bonnie Lou, moving from city to city for various jobs at radio stations and concert venues, including gigs in Bristol, Harrisburg, Knoxville, Salem, and her hometown of Ashville, North Carolina. They're best-known for their tenure at the Opry-esque Smokey Mountain Hayride variety show, a venue in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that opened in 1972. They worked with local musicians including bluegrasser Don McHan, who performs with them on this album, playing banjo, along with Darrell Henry on dobro, and Buster Moore playing fiddle and mandolin. [Note: Mrs. Moore is not to be confused with the nationally-famous singer known as Bonnie Lou (nee Mary Joan Kath) who came from the Midwest and became a pop-country crossover artist in the 1950s.]
Bonnie Lou & Buster "...Sing Gospel" (Masterco Records, 1982) (LP)
Bonnie Lou & Buster "Smoky Mountain Hayride Show" (Green Records, 1983) (LP)
Booger Hole Revival "Roll The Woodpile Down" (No Nukes, 1979)
Old-timey/bluegrassy/stringband stuff by a longhair band from Roane County, West Virginia... It's a nice album with fiddle tunes and backwoods oldies from artists like the Blue Sky Boys, et. al. as well as some good originals, too. They had just the right mix of twang and imperfection for me... Nice stuff!
The Boogie Band "Haulin' Ass Bluegrass" (ECV Records, 1988)
(Produced by Brian Hauck)
Though they billed themselves as bluegrassers, this Northern California band enjoyed a pretty diverse palette, covering cowboy tunes and oldies such as "Life Is Like A Mountain Railroad," "Rocky Top," and the Stanley Brothers' "How The Mountain Girls Can Love," along with country and outlaw classics like Chuck Wagon & The Wheel's "My Girl Passed Out In Her Food," Rodney Crowell's "California Earthquake," "Ya'll Come Back Saloon" by the Oak Ridge Boys, and "London Homesick Blues" (mislabeled "Armadillo" and credited to Jerry Jeff Walker, rather than Gary P. Nunn). Heck, they even played Loudon Wainwright's "Dead Skunk" -- so you can see why I had to pick this one up, right? The Boogie Band hung their Stetsons and straw hats just north of Sacramento, up around Chico, CA. Made up of Nick Becker on bass, Jim Brown (banjo), Kenny Falkenstrom (harmonica), Steve Hamm (mandolin), Jim Rutherford (guitar), Mack Whitley (guitar) and J. J. Yolton on guitar, the group first got together around 1974, and were playing together as recently as 2015(!) Several bandmembers lived in Paradise, the tiny mountain town that was razed by climate change-driven wildfires in 2018, which, if we're lucky, may lead to a good old-fashioned disaster ballad from these pickers someday. Or, as the Rodney Crowell song put it, "we'll build ourselves another town, so you can tear it down again."
Larry Boone "Larry Boone" (Eeee Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Sacco)
In 1988, Florida-born singer Larry Boone cracked his way into the Nashville scene and became a successful chart artist, recording first for Mercury, and then for Columbia. But several years earlier, he cut this album of all-original material with producer Paul Sacco playing about half the instruments. There's no fiddle or pedal steel or mandolin or banjo on here, but there's still some twang, and that's all that counts, really, isn't it? His brother, Tony Booth, was a successful chart artist and songwriter during the 1970s.
Boone's Farm "Boone's Farm" (Columbia Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Messina)
A mix of leaden boogie rock and more modulated country-rock, with some lighter 'Seventies touches that are in keeping with a project helmed by Jim Messina. Several songs have high group harmonies reminiscent of CSNY or Poco, though the lead vocals tend towards a hoarse-throated blues affectation that brings Dr. Hook to mind. Likewise, the hard rock riffs that lace through the album are relics of the era perhaps best left in the past... Still, you can see how this fits into the early major-label country-rock scene, if not into the pantheon itself. This band included drummer Fred Darling, Brad Palmer (bass), Kent Sprague (percussion) and Gary Stovall on guitar. Most of these guys had previously been together in a band called Big Mouth, which had been more of a thumpy, clompy funk-rock thing; Brad Palmer later joined the Top Forty/AOR band America, and stayed with them for a couple of decades.
Boot Hill Express Band "Let's Go For It!" (Boot Hill Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Tim Pick, Roy Shockley & Porter Wagoner)
This Florida-based outlaw band was led by brothers Robert Dale Clark and Roger Lee Clark, who was the group's lead singer and only songwriter, penning two tunes, "Lay Down Beside Me Tonight" and "When Ever," which were included on Side Two, amid various classic country and outlaw cover songs. The rest of the band included drummer Jay Combs, Danny Deibler (guitar), Jerry Dixon (banjo and dobro), Billy Easton (bass), and multi-instrumentalist Leticia Travis who sang, played piano and a slew of other parts. I'm not 100% sure where the band was from, though their contact address was in Palmetto, FL
Gene Booth "The Original Gene Booth" (Yucca Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Calvin Boles?)
Original material by a New Mexico artist, with Emmet Brooks and Jake Brooks on drums and lead guitar, Calvin Turbeville playing steel, Yucca Records label owner Calvin Boles adding a bit of drums, and some other local musicians on various instruments. There's no date on the album, but Booth mentions one song being recorded December 26, 1973, so this is at least from 1974...
Gene Booth "The Singing Mortician" (Gene Booth Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Emmit Brooks)
Tony Booth - see artist profile
Bobby Borchers "Bobby Borchers" (Playboy Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Eddie Kilroy)
An outstanding album of sad, sad cheating songs and raw, erotic ballads. This record is very reflective of the '70s swingers scene, but where many Nashvillers of the era approached the newfound sexual openness of the era in kind of a leering, naughty-little-boy kind of way, songwriter Bobby Borchers crafted an impressive set of emotionally dense songs, focussed on the repercussions of impulsive love and the shifting balances of power in adult relationships. Every track on here is worthwhile, with standouts including "Cheap Perfume And Candlelights," "Lunchtime Lovers," and the scathing "Someone's With Your Wife Tonight, Mister." As complex as the lyrics themselves is the shifting point of view from song to song: some that revel in cheating and sexuality, others that explore the downsides, some repentant, others resigned, with glimmers of joy amid the seediness and sadness that runs throughout. Borchers is also a convincing stylist, with strong traces of Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard, buoyed by sleek, sympathetic backing, notably the pedal steel of Russ Hicks. An excellent '70s country album... Highly recommended!
Bobby Borchers "Denim And Rhinestones" (Playboy Records, 1978) (LP)
Borderline "Sweet Dreams And Quiet Desires" (United Artist/Avalanche, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Jon Gershen, Nick Jameson, Bob Ludwig & Jim Rooney)
This short-lived country-rock band was assembled from the from the Woodstock, New York roots music scene, and in particular from the Bearsville Sound Studio, where the multi-talented Jim Rooney joined brothers Dave Gershen and Jon Gershen along with a countless cast of proto-Americana icons, including fiddlers Vassar Clements, Jim Colgrove and Ken Kosek, superpicker Ben Keith and a couple of dudes from The Band. Borderline released only one album, their second effort getting shelved for several decades... Both albums have since been re-released as a twofer CD (listed below). BTW: anyone know what the Gershens did after this?
Borderline "Sweet Dreams And Quiet Desires/The Second Album" (Real Gone Records, 2013)
A twofer reissue that includes both their first LP and the "lost" album that was only semi-released in the intervening years.
The Borderline Band "The Borderline Band" (B-Line Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Lanson & The Borderline Band)
Eight original twangtunes by a four-piece band out of Puyallup, Washington, led by guitarist Darrel Krueger, a guy who'd been part of the SeaTac music scene since the mid-1960s, playing in a string of rock or country bands, often with many of the same guys. On this album he's joined by Pat Bohle on drums, Tom McCollum (piano and vocals), and Jeff Samples (bass, mandolin and vocals). The Borderline Band was formed around 1982, though all four of these guys were also in a group called The Uptown Country Boys, along with guitarist Dave Harmonson, bassist Ken Parypa, and John Samples. This is the main cast of a dizzying string of groups, including a rock band called Sky Boys (who made an album) and a mid-'Seventies twangband called Road Apple, which I think did not. The odd part comes around 1979 when Seattle twangster Jim Finneran released a single that credits a group called the Uptown Country Boys as his backing band, though both tracks seem to be off an LP that includes none of the musicians in the 1982 group of the same name. Your guess is as good as mine. (Info about all these bands -- and more! -- courtesy of The Pacific Northwest Bands webpage, which also delves into Krueger's hippie-era rock bands. Thanks!)
The Borderline Country Band "Purveyors Of A Fine Blend Of Good Time Country Music" (Border Records, 1984-?) (LP)
(Produced by Roy Neave)
Yet another boundary-obsessed Borderline group, this time from the UK. I dunno much about these guys; their producer Roy Neave was was in a few different English rock bands in the 'Seventies, and these Borderline chaps may have been from Yorkshire as well. I think the tracks are all cover songs, accurately described as "good time country music" in the title, tunes such as "Fire On The Mountain," "Leavin' Louisiana In The Broad Daylight," "Midnight Flyer" and "Texas (When I Die)."
Fred Bornstedt & The Bunch Grass Band "Take Me Back To The Wallowa's" (Enterprise Distributors, 1980) (LP)
This album of cowboy music was recorded at the Enterprise High School band room, in Enterprise, Oregon, and features a bunch of local musicians, all Wallowa County locals, including Bornstedt's daughter, Dora Mae Bornstedt, playing bass.
Both Barrels Band "Ain't About To Change" (Orttel Brothers Publishing, 1981) (LP)
All original, bar-band offering by siblings Danny and Steven Orttel, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They are joined by lead guitarist Gary Caron, Bob Boucher on bass, and drummer Bryan Helmbrechy.
Bottle Hill "A Rumor In Their Own Time" (Biograph Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Arnold A. Caplin)
An old-timey band with a modern sensibility, this ensemble from New York State had a repertoire that included covers of Paul Siebel's "Any Day Woman," Gram Parson's "Christine's Tune" and the Rolling Stone's "Honky Tonk Woman." And plenty of weird, craggy stringband stuff as well!
Bottle Hill "Light Our Way Along The Highway" (Biograph Records, 1976) (LP)
Leon Boulanger "Requested Favorites, Volume One" (Twin Town Records, 1969-?) (LP)
Although he worked with some of the biggest names in old-school honkytonk, fiddler Leon Boulanger also had solid regional roots, leading the house band at the Flame Theater Cafe in Minneapolis, Minnesota throughout the 1960s. Boulanger was in Johnnie Lee Wills western swing band before shipping off to serve in the Korean War -- back stateside, he joined guitarist Billy Gray's band in the 1950s, then settled into the Twin Cities scene for most of the 'Sixties, starting his residency at the Flame in 1962. He signed up with various headliners after the Flame Cafe band broke up around 1970-71, working for Mel Tillis, then in Ernest Tubb's Troubadours, and finally Faron Young's band, the Deputies, which he joined around 1976-77. Boulanger recorded a few singles under his own name as well as this LP, which I think was his only full-length album. Not sure when it was recorded -- sometime after 1968, according to the liner notes, though early '70s seems likely as well, possibly as late as 1971. The material's all oldies, mainly honkytonk cover songs, along with some popular instrumentals such as "Yakety Sax," though there are no originals from the band. The edition of the Leon Boulanger Show included steel player Terry Bethel, bassist Dick Van Hale, multi-instrumentalist Dave Poe, and drummer John Peck, who each had strong backgrounds playing for various stars such as Dave Dudley, Claude Gray, Ferlin Husky, et.al.
The Boulder Brothers "A Period Of Time" (Sheepeater Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Arnie Goodman & Spook Flanagan)
If you're keeping score in the whole "can't judge a book by its cover" department, feel free to add this one. I was drawn in by the Idaho mailing address, then realized this trio included guitarist Michael Wendling, who I'd come across before. I figured, maybe some twang, more likely bluegrass, let's check it out. By, oh jeez, was I unprepared by the truly horrible '70s folkie-ness of this album. Wendling plays all kind of fancy licks -- banjo, 12-string, slide guitar -- along with bassist Paul Smith and singer William Smith, who was the driving force behind this album. But, oh, lord, is this torturous. Smith was into some sort of spaced-out, cosmic crooning, profound folk-poet vibe, similar to late '60s icons like Tim Hardin, Fred Neil, or Tom Rush... But while all of those acoustic pioneers had their magical moments, I can honestly say there isn't a single track on here I'd want to hear again. It's just too self-involved and goopy for me -- I dunno what they were smoking or toking back then in Hailey, Idaho, but I guess it was potent. So, yeah, folk-freak fans might want to track this one down, though most alt-country types can steer clear.
Boulderdash "Boulderdash" (Shivaree Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Daryl McQuinn)
A country rock/honkytonk band from Collinsville, Illinois, with solid musicianship and a full brace of original material... These guys made the most of modest means -- the studio production was pretty barebones and they are definitely "real folks" locals, not hotshot country music rockstars. That said, this is a fun record with an amiable feel, covering a wide variety of styles -- cosmic cowboy/outlaw stuff, old-school honky tonk, harmony-laced country-rock, cowboy yodeling, and a goofy novelty song about having fantasies of winning the lottery. The set list includes a version of McGuinness Flint's "Two Hangmen," although most of the tracks were written by the band: drummer Paul Jarvis three songs, with pickers George Kershaw and Harry Garber adding a few more... All in all, a pretty solid set, though not necessarily a flashy or electrifying band. Definitely worth a spin!
Ted Boursaw "City Lights" (American Sound Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Cliff Ayers)
A singer from Portland, Oregon who traveled to Nashville to record this set... It's all cover songs, generally straight-up oldies honkytonk hits... "City Lights," "Whiskey River," "Slowly," "Saginaw Michigan," etc.
Uncle Ish Bowen "Something Got Hold Of Me" (Master Records, 19--?) (LP)
A simple, haunting country gospel set from a former honkytonker who got religion and switched to gospel music... Ishel Femus Bowen (1917-1989) was born in Shelby, North Carolina, but had moved to Newport News, Virginia by the time he recorded this album. I don't have much info about his musical career; Mr. Bowen worked as a welder in the Virginia shipyards and possibly was strictly an amateur musician. The record includes two songs sung by bassist David Jones, as well as one written by Ann Allman who sings on the album, along with Ms. Lola Begg also play on the album. It's a nice, simple set -- sparsely recorded with Bowen strumming an acoustic guitar, singing in an old-fashioned style reminiscent of Roy Acuff and the Depression-era country scene, with Allman and Begg adding Carter Family-esque harmonies. Also charming are their clumsy attempts and counterpoint recitation on tracks like "I Wasn't There." This is deep, authentic rural stuff -- heartfelt, unpretentious and sincerely moving. The tracks with Jones singing lead are slicker and more upbeat, though also quite nice.
Ken Bower "So In Love With You" (Chaparral Records, 1975) (LP)
Ken Bower "Chaparral Favorites" (Chaparral Records, 1975) (LP)
Jimmy Bowers, Al Noyd & Del Bailey "Long Time Comin' " (TapeMasters, 1974) (LP)
Country rockin' stuff by three pals from (I think) Indianapolis, Indiana -- Jimmy Bowers (lead guitar), Del Bailey (bass), Al Noyd (drums) and a couple of other guys who weren't able to convince them to come up with a band name: Joe Tippie on steel guitar and Willie Jones plunkin' piano. The trio (or quintet?) seems to have been led by Bowers, and while there's no info on the album about where they were from, I found a few show notices in the Indianapolis papers, circa 1974-76. Their repertoire includes nods to the Dead, Eagles, and some older country artists, with songs including "Jim Dandy," "Midnight Rider," "Honky Tonk Angel," and "Honky Tonk Wine," as well as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Turn On Your Love Light." A few songs may have been originals, though there aren't any song credits...
Bowley & Wilson "Bowley & Wilson" (Harvest Productions, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by John Bowley, John Wilson & George M. Jones)
This Texas-based comedy duo, John Bowley and John Wilson, tore up stages for several decades and recorded several albums, including this one, which includes that big blast from the past, "The Fart Song." Plenty of crude but clever material, as well as a decent amount of twang. Maybe not as rough around the edges as Chinga Chavin or Montezuma's Revenge, but sure to appeal to many of the same fans.
Bowley & Wilson "The Wildest Show In Texas" (Bowley & Wilson) (LP)
Hey man, if you think you can handle it, this one's a full-on double LP.
Bowley & Wilson "A Date With Bowley & Wilson" (Bowley & Wilson, 19--?) (LP)
Bowley, Wilson & Kendrick "Bowley, Wilson & Kendrick" (Bowley & Wilson, 19--?) (LP)
And then there were three! At some point they officially expanded into a trio, with James Kendrick chiming in... Not sure when this came out, but, well, everybody's a little fuzzy on the details.
Bowley & Wilson "Greatest Tits (Up Yours)" (Bowley & Wilson, 1995-?) (LP)
Dunno if these are original recordings or what, but this collection would probably satisfy your curiosity about B&W and BWK. If not, there's also an official website that can give you all the deets about their incredibly long career.
Shell Bowling "Shell's Country Drifters" (Cimaca Records, 1974) (LP)
Singer Shell Bowling was an armed forces veteran who seems to have done a lot of USO-type troop shows during the waning years of the Vietnam War, and some of his records may have been made under the auspices of the military... though I'm not totally sure about that. This is mostly pretty mainstream stuff, including hits of the day such as "Tie A Yellow Ribbon," "Most Beautiful Girl" and "Behind Closed Doors." In 1985 he recorded a topically-themed single on the Jewel label, called "A Warning To Terrorists," which is probably worth tracking down.
Shell Bowling "Shell's Country Drifters: Most Requested Songs, Volume Two" (Rene Records, 19--?) (LP)
Dewayne Bowman "Dewayne Bowman" (Antique Records, 1984) (LP)
Good ol' boy Dewayne Bowman was a local star in Southwestern Missouri, near the Oklahoma border, playing main in his own bar, the Paint Stallion, located in Joplin, Missouri. This album was recorded in nearby Pittsburg, Kansas, and is pretty much straight-up honkytonk country, with slightly slick early '80s production. He's a little stiff as a singer, but it's the thought that counts. Fans of Moe Bandy might dig this guy, too.
Dewayne Bowman "Dewayne Bowman" (Antique Records, 2001) (CD)
A reissue CD that includes all the tracks off his 1984 album, along with some more recent recordings.
Don Bowman - see artist profile
Margie Bowman "From The Heart Of Margie Bowman" (Ranger Records, 19--?)
(Produced by Forrest Green)
This gal from the town of Ozark, Arkansas wrote most of the songs on this album, adding a few cover tunes from the likes of Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Loretta Lynn. Bowman was a rough, rural vocalist -- although she pays homage to Loretta, her roots run a little deeper, back to foremothers such as Kitty Wells and more particularly to Jean Shepard, whose proto-feminist anthems are echoed in Bowman's own lyrics. This is best borne out on the album's second track, "Lord, Did You Think Of Lonely Women," in which she directly confronts God (yes, that God!) about the religious double standards that make it okay for men to seek comfort in sex, but don't allow women to do the same. That's probably the most striking song on here, but there are several that are quite good. Bowman is backed by producer Forrest Green and his band, the Rangers, a veteran of the 1950's country scene and former Arkansan himself, who moved to Michigan and settled into a second act as an indie record producer... His band adds a lively, melodic, steel-driven twang, reminiscent of Lynn's best work from the '60s; the album isn't that well-produced, and Bowman's phrasing sounds a little stiff -- nerves, maybe? -- but it's still a cool record. Not entirely sure when this was made, but I'm guessing it was around 1974-75, based on the album art and on the cover tunes: "Me And Bobby McGee" was from the late '60s, but Haggard's "Holding Things Together" came out in '74. Anyone out there know for sure?
Paul Bowman & The Country Showmen "San Francisco's KUDO-TV Presents..." (1972) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Bowman Don Humphrey & Roy Bell)
A Northern California native, born in Lodi, Paul Bowman moved up north to Redding, and then to Oregon where he became a country music radio broadcaster and later was recruited by hillbilly legend Rose Maddox to tour with her mid-'Sixties band. After a few years on the road with Maddox and other musicians, Bowman came back to the Golden State and scored a gig on KUDO-TV in San Francisco. The station gave him a weekly show, which is where he was working when he made this album. Alas, there's no info about the recording sessions, other than that it was at the Skinner Studios, in SF. It's an okay record, kind of low-key and workmanlike, but basically solid, with a nice selection of tunes, though it's all cover material and not originals.
Paul Bowman "The Drifter" (Mark Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Bowman, Don Humphrey & Roy Bell)
A Northern California indie-label twangfest, recorded in San Mateo, CA on a private label from Stockton... This album is packed with original material penned either by Paul Bowman or Don Humphrey... Some of it's kind of densely written, but backed with plenty of Merle Haggard-influenced West Coast twang -- at first I had a hard time getting into it, but Bowman and his crew slowly won me over. The band includes Howard Riley on guitar, with Ron Riley playing pedal steel (as well as Commander Cody's steel player Bobby Black on a tune or two...) Ron Riley also led his own band, Goldrush, and released a live album a couple of years after this one came out. Bowman's TV show was still going strong when this was recorded, and is mentioned in the liner notes, though I don't know when it ended...
Paul Bowman "The 20/20 Album: 20 Great Years, 20 Great Songs" (Mark Records, 1986) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Bowman, Jack Daniels & Russ Gary)
Paul Bowman & H. C. Langford "Memory Time" (Breeze Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Lonnie Holt & Jerry Sells)
This is a different Paul Bowman from the guy above... Bowman and Langford were two old-timers who had a radio show on WLIV, in rural Livingston, Tennessee... They focussed on the pre-honky tonk, sentimental styles of the Depression era, hummable ballads and gospel songs, reminiscent of duos such as the Blue Sky Boys, et. al. They both play acoustic guitar and song a little, and are joined by a few other locals, including Eldon Davis on dobro. This set of acoustic tunes is named after their "Memory Time" show, and as far as I know was their only recording.
Kenny Boyd & Strawboss "Tommy Collins Is Back, Introducing..." (1983) (LP)
Over the years, singing sheriff Kenny Boyd (1946-2012) worked as a railroad detective, a federal marshal, and as deputy -- and later Sheriff -- of Sumner County, Kansas, where he served for over twenty years. I'm not sure when he formed the Strawboss band, but I think this was their only album, and the title's a little confusing. Were they backing country star Tommy Collins, or was he just being their buddy and lending his name to their debut? Inquiring minds want to know.
Boyce & Kramer "Voyage" (Frog Records, 1978) (LP)
David Boyce and Rex Kramer cut this set in Houston, Texas, mixing decidedly pop material with a few eclectic country choices, like "Mr. Bojangles," "Luckenbach, Texas" as well as, um, Kenny Loggins' "Danny's Song" and a Paul Anka oldie. Rex Kramer probably had the longer musical backstory: he'd been in the 'Sixties surf-garage band The Coastliners, whose range spanned bubblegummy pop and thudding, thumping '60s punk, with a discernible Kinks influence. Like all the best people, he "went country" in the 'Seventies, producing some interesting results -- their countrypolitan cover of Don Gibson's "All Wrapped Up In You" has such a believably breezy, slightly manic feel that you could almost imagine it being a country radio hit in 1974 or thereabouts. The album also includes a couple of Kramer originals, "Ring In My Pocket" and "You Oughta Be Against The Law." Not sure where either of these guys wound up after this...
Dave Boyer "Country Girl" (Boot Records, 1976) (LP)
A native of Alberta, Canada, singer Dave Boyer (nee Boire) was a secular artist, and not to be confused with the Christian singer Dave Boyer, who worked with Ralph Carmichael... He penned the 1974 single, "Country Girl," which was a Top Forty country hit in Canada, eventually leading to this full album being released a couple of years later. The material is mostly originals, with Boyer's compositions supplemented by a version of the George Jones hit, "The Race Is On." As far as I know, this was his only album, though he also released several singles with material not heard here.
Johnny Boyle "Johnny Boyle Sings" (JBS Records, 19--?) (LP)
Cowboy and western stuff, of completely unknown provenance, though apparently put out by Johnny Boyle's family, possibly as a memorial album. The cover art looks late 1950s, possibly early '60s. The repertoire is mostly western music, along with some gospel, Hawaiian, and some novelty material such as "The Irish Were Egyptians," a song Boyle previously recorded as a 78, some years earlier, a tune that was originally a hit for Irish music hall singer Billy Murray.
The Boys "Kickin' Around" (Rome Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Casey)
The "boys" in this case were the lads of the Adams family of Greenfield, Ohio -- Darrell, Don, Farrell and Gary Adams - who are joined by pedal steel great Doug Jernigan, along with Dave Gray (trumpet), Paul Justice (fiddle), and Steve Marple on drums. Johnny Paycheck was also from Greenfield, and hired these guys as his touring group in the 1970s, so even though they don't mention him on this album, it's also one of those "backup band" albums. This was a pretty ambitious custom album -- a 2-LP set! -- including a bunch of 1960s, '70s pop and country covers, as well as original material from the folks around Columbus, Ohio, tunes credited to the New Rome and Shetac Music publishing companies, which copyrighted a bunch of their stuff, circa 1974. I don't know how much these guys played live independent of the Paycheck gig, but they certainly seemed to be making a real go of things with this record.
The Boys In The Bunkhouse "The Boys In The Bunkhouse" (United Artists, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Snuff Garrett)
A convention of all-star studio pickers, with Al Casey, J. D. Maness and others jamming on some country stuff, but also covering tunes like Ary Barroso's "Brazil." Maybe not very indie, but certainly very '70s.
John Braden "John Braden" (A&M, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Henry Lewy)
Sort of a folk-country outing, with backing on a few tracks from California-based hippiebilly luminaries such as Ry Cooder, Chris Ethridge, Sneaky Pete Kleinow and various acid rock musicians, as well as jazz musician Paul Horn. John Braden later went on to carve a very successful career as a children's music producer, recording numerous albums for the Kids Stuff label, notably working on game-related albums for Atari, as well as the Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony albums. Talk about a long, strange trip!
Junior Bradford "...And The Country Knights" (Big Rock Recording, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by John Montgomery)
Jerry Bradley "Once More For The Good Times" (El Dorado Gold, 19--?)
(Produced by Ed Glass)
A country singer from Medford, Oregon, recording at Gene Breeden Studios in Nashville, with Gene Breeden on lead guitar and Terry Crisp playing steel, and Phil Hurley on drums... The repertoire includes covers of Kris Kristofferson and Hank Williams, as well as what looks like three originals: "Oregon, I'm Coming Home" by Jerry Bradley, along with "We Never Ran Out Of Love" and "Whatever We Had" by Ken Wesley.
Paul Bradley & The Wagon Wheelers "Wagon Wheel" (Stop Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Ed Glass)
Some obscure East Coast country... The Wagon Wheel was a club located in Ayer, Massachusetts, near Boston, while singer Paul Bradley was apparently from Lewiston, Maine. I wasn't able to find out much about this guy's career, but I welcome any info!
Terry Ray Bradley "It Just Keeps Getting Better" (J.E.K. Records/Kennett Sound Studios, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Keene)
A nice, mellow set of rockabilly-tinged indie twang from a Missouri crooner who sounds quite a bit Elvis-y, with a velvety baritone and generally relaxed vibe. Mostly these are soft ballads, with a gentle rock backbeat... Some tracks are more country than others, such as producer Joe Keene's "I've Got A Lot To Get Over," which has a pure early '60s Nashville Sound feel. Another album highlight is his version of Bill Rice's "Hand Of Hurt," which is a solid country weeper. Ex-rockabilly-gone-country-star Narvel Felts contributes laudatory liner notes, and that gives you a pretty good sense of where Bradley was coming from... Fans of retrobilly crooners such as Crash Craddock, Narvel Felts and Orion might dig this as well. It's not electrifying, but it's heartfelt and musically solid.
Bill Bradway & Jean Bradway "Gospel Hawaiianaires" (Christian Faith Records, 1965-?) (LP)
According to the liner notes, steel guitar player Bill Bradway was a farm kid from rural New Jersey who had a flair for repairing musical instruments as well as a knack with electronics. He tinkered around and built his own electric guitars, and eventually designed his own line of double-necked pedal steels. He formed his own band in Atlantic City, a Pacific-themed trio called the Hawaiianaires, which played gigs at Hunt's Ocean Pier amusement park, as well as performing daily on the radio, and with big band/pop bandleader Horace Heidt. The Bradways were "born again" in 1955 and devoted themselves entirely to gospel music and evangelizing at church events. The tunes on this instrumental album are mainly gospel classics, such as "Onward Christian Soldiers," "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" and "The Old Rugged Cross," but they sure sound like old-school Hawaiian guitar tunes rather than fusty old hymns. Certainly worth a spin!
Jim Brady "Brady" (Roc-co Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Otis Blackwell)
Although Arizona rocker "Diamond" Jim Brady had been a professional musician since the late '50s, he worked mostly as a sideman, notably for Roy Clark in the early '60s and several years touring with B. J. Thomas. This disc, from the mid-1980s, was his solo debut, and it has a 'Fifties rock feel, though there is a bit of twang in there as well. The album was produced by R&B legend Otis Blackwell, the guy who wrote seminal rock classics such as "All Shook Up," "Don't Be Cruel," "Fever," "Great Balls Of Fire," and "Return To Sender." Half the songs on this album were Blackwell compositions, but newer tunes, like "Paralize" and "Just Keep It Up." Also of interest (and more off the beaten track) is a song by Jack Quist ("Her Love's On Hold") and one by a guy named O. D. Fulks... (Any relation to Robbie? Lord only knows... but wouldn't that be cool?)
Pete Brady "Sing Me A Smile" (Moonraker, 1984) (LP)
Oh, I had high hopes for this one, but alas, not all indie albums from the '70s with old guys wearing hats turn out to be country records. Mr. Brady was more of a wannabee pop-vocals crooner - a not-quite Jack Jones/Mac Davis kinda guy. There is one track that could plausibly be called countrypolitan, but for the most part, this review is just a warning flag for twangfans: This is okay for what it is, but it ain't country.
Bramble "Bramble" (Creative Arts Studios, 1983) (LP)
Loretta Brank "This Is Loretta, Volume One" (1975) (LP)
(Produced by Allen P. Giles)
A championship fiddler from Winlock, Washington, Loretta Brank started playing music at age nine, and had already won or placed in numerous state and national championships from 1970 to 1975. She learned the fiddle from her dad, as well as the mentorship of the legendary Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson, who taught her much of his repertoire. Ms. Brank had just turned fourteen years old when this album was recorded, having already earned thirty-five trophies in less than five year's time, including a junior-juniors division victory over a neophyte Mark O'Connor at the 1973 competition in Weiser, Idaho. Brank later moved to Nashville where she played with old-timers like Charlie McCoy, and spent several years touring with Deana Carter. This album is mostly full of standards such as "Jole Blon," "Leather Britches" and "Sally Goodin," with a couple of more obscure tunes in there as well. Of interest to bluegrass and old-timey fans is Washington state native Molly Mason on guitar, along with bassist Larry Edwards and Roger Maddy on mandolin; I believe Ms. Mason is the same old-timey artist who teamed up with Jay Ungar, while Mr. Maddy went on to record a couple of albums of his own a few years later.
Branson "When We Sing For Him" (Ramblin' Records, 1986) (LP)
(Produced by John Salem)
A southern gospel performance, recorded live on August 30, 1986 at a venue called Country Music World, in lovely downtown Branson, Missouri. This creatively-named vocal quartet is backed by a group called the NightWay Band, with pedal steel (Obie Jones), banjo (Danney Yancey), bass, drums and keyboards. Not sure if they made any other records...
Braswell Brothers "Mile One" (19--) (LP)
An amiable family band, featuring Dave, Mike and Ronnie Braswell, brothers who started playing together as kids. They racked up a lot of experience traveling far and wide with their dad, an air traffic controller whose work took him to several states as well as to the Panama Canal Zone, where they entertained American troops who were stationed there. Apparently the Braswells were from Florida, and recorded this album in Tampa, with their band rounded out by steel player Tommy Crawford, Barry Jeffrey on keyboards, and Leroy Mercer on harmonica. Marvin ("Mike") Braswell (1947-2007) was the lead singer and one of the band's songwriters, along with brother Ronnie. Though most of the set is cover material -- including Neil Young's "Are You Ready For The Country" and classics like "Ghost Riders In The Sky," "Jambalaya" and "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," -- there are also several originals by the Braswells, "Kathy's Song," "Lady At The Window, "Mile One," and "Bluest Guitar In Town," which may also have been released as a single. This record is a nice set of straight-up country crooning with a smooth finish but a honkytonk core -- George Jones, Vern Gosdin and Jim Ed Brown come to mind. Good stuff. Some swell pedal steel, as well. Recommended!
Sam Braswell "Lookin' Back With Sam Braswell" (Jester Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Hale)
An entirely satisfying set of country covers from a longtime Montana local. Louis "Sam" Braswell (1933-2014) was born in Mississippi but made his way up North working as an itinerant "shot hole" oil driller, eventually settling down in Montana in the early 1950s... He was a self-taught musician who led a local bar-band called the Tavern Travelers, and started his own business in Billings -- Midland Tool And Supply, which he ran for over thirty years before retiring in 2000. As far as I know this was his only record, but it's a nice one. Braswell was a slightly clunky singer, but he's heartfelt and sincere, and his love of the music radiates though each song. The backing band was modest and minimal, with an accomplished steel player named Allen Meade backed by a less-dynamic rhythm section, including Chuck Bell on lead guitar, Red Austin on bass, Rex Rieke plunking piano and Mr. Braswell playing rhythm guitar. He mainly covers standards, stuff by Johnny Horton, Jimmie Rodgers, Porter Wagoner and Lefty Frizzell, with a few newer tunes such as "Catfish John," "Amanda" and Johnny Russell's "Red Necks, White Socks And Blue Ribbon Beer," three of four songs on here written by Bob McDill, who Braswell seems to have admired quite a bit. Real-deal, locally generated old-school country.
The Braun Brothers "Old Cowboy Blues" (Idaho Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by The Braun Brothers)
Likable locals from Boise, Idaho, Muzzie and Gary Braun fronted a long-lived hippie/cowboy country/folk band which specialized -- particularly on this album -- in songs with local twists. Lots of songs with Idaho, Boise and wide, open spaces in the lyrics... Nice, un-flashy musicianship with just the right amount of twang to 'em. Nothing mindblowing, but a nice souvenir of an authentic regional band of hometown heroes.
The Braun Brothers "Heart Of Idaho" (Idaho Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Braun & Glenn Nelson, Jr.)
Another modest DIY effort from brothers Gary and Muzzie Braun, who took the Rocky Mountain folk-country style of John Denver and gave it a rural Idaho twist, singing songs about loggers, miners, cowboys and long, cold winters without your best girl around to make you a cup of coffee. Muzzie Braun was the driving force here -- he wrote and sang all the songs, while brother Gary thumped on the drums -- and while Muzzie had his limitations as a singer, this is a charming set of for-locals regional twang. The opening track, "Heart Of Idaho," is a nice upbeat song that hearkens back to the days of regionally-themed country songs, and there are some other songs that were good as well, mostly the uptempo numbers, as Muzzie can show some weakness as a ballad singer. "Weekend Logger Blues" is a standout novelty number, though the whole record has a nice amateurish charm, underscored by the liner notes that describe how various songs were composed throughout the '70s: this album was a long time coming and was obviously a labor of love. Might not be a classic, but it's got its charms.
The Braun Brothers "Born 100 Years Too Late" (Idaho Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by The Braun Brothers)
A thoroughly charming set of low-key, good-natured twang tunes, with a definite tilt towards novelty numbers like the Willie Nelson tribute song, "Willie's Old Guitar" and the straight-faced barroom ballad, "Honky Tonk Hall Of Fame." Several songs make reference to life in rural Idaho, notably "High Mountain Home" and "I'm Missin' You," which also are heartfelt reflections on life as a parent and talk about "the boys," presumably the second generation of Braun Brothers, who all became musicians themselves (see below...) There's also one topical, political song, "Save It For The Babies," which is about stopping land grabbers and big corporations from despoiling Idaho's pristine natural beauty. These are nice, good-natured tunes, totally unpretentious, all originals, with an all-local cast backing the singers. A great set of locals-only, DIY twang.
The Braun Brothers "Vintage Braun Brothers" (Idaho Records, 2011)
This CD best-of gathers almost two-dozen tracks from various Braun Brothers albums, including of course, "Heart Of Idaho" and most of the rest of their first album. After this band, Muzzie formed another family act with four of his sons, called Muzzie & The Boys -- it's probably worth noting here that they went on to form bands of their own: Willy and Cody Braun started the Americana/indie-rock band Reckless Kelly, while Micky Braun is in the red-dirt band, Micky and the Motorcars... Talk about a family tradition!
Brave Belt "Brave Belt" (Reprise Records, 1971)
From our neighbors up North came this kinda-sorta-country rock band, a semi-solo project from Canadian rocker Randy Bachman, who had just left the band Guess Who after they scored a chart-topping hit with the song "American Woman." Apparently the breakup wasn't very friendly, and Bachman had a tough time getting his career started. The little-remembered Brave Belt albums are often mostly seen as warm-ups to the tighter sounding, vastly more successful Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I guess there's a legitimate argument to be made that these albums have a place in the early history of country-rock, though they are also kind of proggy and poppy, with a heavy boogie-rock undercurrent, as would be expected from the time... The band didn't do well south of the border, and its third album was rejected by the label, which prompted Bachman to change the band's lineup, name and musical direction, eventually leading to the BTO whose hits "Takin' Care of Business" and "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" became integral parts of the oppressively prefab radio landscape of the 'Seventies. Twangfans may find modest rewards on the first Brave Belt album; the second album has more of a heavy-rock sound, and neither one really does that much for me...
Brave Belt "Brave Belt II" (Reprise Records, 1972)
Dick Bray "Talk With The Man" (Hyland Records, 1972-?) (LP)
This is a major mystery record, with no where, when, who or how about it... The liner notes include the song titles and composer credits, and that's about it. I couldn't find anything out about this guy or who was backing him up online: there are a few Dick Brays to choose from but none of them seemed like a good match. Anyway, it's also an odd record, clearly a mega-private vanity release, though Bray seems to have had a confidence borne of some success singing in coffeehouses or somewhere like that. It kicks off with the title track, a folk-ish gospel song that makes you think, uh-oh, it's gonna be one of those albums, but soon shifts into an otherwise exclusively secular mode. Bray's vocal persona quickly gels into a strong similarity with Hoyt Axton and like Axton, he straddles country, folk and a tiny bit of mildly psychedelic pop-rock... On the surface, this seems to be the kind of record that could easily be mocked by the uber-hip, but after a couple of listens, it grew on me, particularly a couple of the odder, more personal-sounding songs. Side Two features the strongest of these, the evocative "Goin' Goin' Gone" and the weird, rambling "He Packed His Guitar," a cluttered narrative about some guy who tries to make it in show business, moving to San Francisco in '69 and then down to LA, where he leads a "comfortable" life... It's a strange, naifish song, one of several credited to Mick Lloyd, and seems to have an axe or two to grind about the music business: if anyone's looking for songs so include on "private press" anthologies, this one's a great candidate. The record is filled with originals, but none were credited to Bray -- was he writing and recording under different names? Was this a song-poem album? Who can tell? But even though my rational mind screams against it, my heart has to accept this untraceable album as a guilty pleasure. Anyone with more info out there? I'm all ears.
Dick Bray "Touch Of The West" (Hyland Records, 19--?) (LP)
Some of this album comes from straight-up western-themed sources, songs like "Big Iron" and "Ghost Riders," but a lot of it's more in a pop-folk crooning style, tunes like "Greenfields" and "It Was A Very Good Year." One thing that does become clear, though, is that the Hyland label was Bray's own imprint: he also released at least one 45 single on it as well.
Brazil Country "...Plays Something For Everyone!" (Crown City Recording And Publishing Company, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Szabo)
Oh, I had very high hopes for this one. I mean, just look at it: Brazil...? Country...? Oh baby! This was made for me! A closer inspection, though, revealed no twanged-up bossa nova songs, no samba renditions of Hank Williams oldies... Alas, the band was named for guitarist Tony Brazil, a Central California native whose band paired up country instruments such as pedal steel with trumpet and sax, a combination they applied to songs by Merle Haggard, Buddy Holly, and Bert Kaempfert, along with pop hits of the day such as "Put Your Hand In The Hand" and "Tiny Bubbles," with the most recent song being Neil Diamond's "Song Sung Blue," which was a hit in '72. According to the liner notes, the group won some kind of battle of the bands sponsored by radio station KLAC, Hollywood, and played gigs at venues such as the Squaw Valley ski resort... Anyway, this may not be the world-music twangfest I'd hoped for, but it's still an interesting souvenir of a Southern California county-fair covers band of yesteryear.
Breakheart Pass Band "Borderline Thrill" (Breakheart Pass Enterprises, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Scott Fronsoe & Steve Fjeland)
A country-oriented bar band from Minneapolis, Minnesota with a wealth of freshly-written material... The album's producer, bassist Scott Fronsoe, wrote or co-wrote all but three of the songs while the remainder were originals as well, including a couple written by guitarist Joe Campbell. Includes songs such as "Burned Out Feelins," "In A Bar Room, On A Bar Stool," and "Minnesota Woman." Pretty solid stuff, in the classic hippiebilly country-rock style. Recommended!
Brethren "Whistlin' With The Wind" (Moonsound, 1979) (LP)
As you might imagine from the name, Brethren were indeed a gospel group, more specifically Lutherans. This Minneapolis, Minnesota band was founded in 1974 and played a mix of Christian and secular country. The main members are the trio of Bob Hoch (lead vocals), Doug Larson (bass, led vocals) and John Williams (guitar, banjo, lead vocals) with backing by a band called Wildwood, which included Jim Plattes on fiddle and pedal steel/banjo player Jeff Dayton... The covers include "Mr. Bojangles," Carole King's "You've Got A Friend," Jimmie Driftwood's "Battle Of New Orleans," as well as some original material, most of it written by Williams.
Brewer & Shipley -- see artist profile
Clyde Brewer & Bob White "The Twin Fiddles Of..." (Stoneway Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by R. M. Stone)
Clyde Brewer & Bob White "Seven Come Eleven" (Stoneway Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by R. M. Stone)
Clyde Brewer & Bob White "The Texas Touch" (Longhorn Records, 1983-?) (LP)
(Produced by Clyde Brewer & Dusty Dickerson)
Twin fiddles, Texas style, backed by a sharp band of old-timers with steel, bass, guitars and the like... Fiddler-pianist Clyde Brewer (1930-2011) was a western swing pioneer -- he started out in Shelly Lee Alley's Depression-era band, the Alley Cats and went on to play with a bunch of western swing legends, notably with Cliff Bruner, Laura Lee McBride, and Moon Mullican. He stayed in the Houston area, and along with fellow fiddler Bob White and bandleader Dick Allen, Brewer helped anchor the (Original) River Road Boys. The group recorded prolifically over a span of decades, with various lineups over the years. This disc is packed with local talent, including steel guitar by Dusty Stewart, and vocals by Jim Johnson.
Clyde Brewer & Bob White "Country Music High" (Longhorn Records, 1985) (LP)
Con Brewer "The Country Sound Of Con Brewer" (Blake Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by John Cook)
An extremely likeable, unpretentious album from a guy with modest vocal talents but deep country roots... Brewer plays some great, bouncy bordello-style piano riffs, strums the guitar and kinda croaks his way through a nice set of all-original material, with several excellent tunes. There are also a few instrumental tracks on Side Two where he jams with the band, with the piano and pedal steel being standouts. I'm not sure where he was from -- this album was recorded in Memphis, though in the liner notes he thanks some friends in Leesburg, Florida who helped him out. I like this record a lot: Mr. Brewer might not have had the greatest voice, but he sure knew about true-country twang.
David Brewer "David Brewer" (Zeta Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Morris & Dee Keener)
Not a lot of info about singer David Brewer, per se although his backing band included the husband-wife duo of Bob Morris and Faye (Hardin) Morris, fellow Arkansans who were closely associated with Buck Owens and the early 1960's Bakersfield Sound. They recorded for the West Coast label, Challenge Records, and co-wrote a number of successful songs, including "Made In Japan," which was a #1 hit for Buck Owens in 1972. Mr. Morris also worked prolifically as a studio musician, playing bass (and other instruments) on sessions for Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, and the couple was given a spotlight on Owen's pre-Hee-Haw TV show. Eventually the Morrises headed back to Arkansas where they helped produce records for local musicians, including this album. All the songs are originals co-written by David Brewer and Bob Morris, with Morris playing guitar, fiddle and keyboards, Faye Morris singing backup, with Gene Morris on bass and Robbie Morris playing drums. (Note: when Bob Morris died in 1981 after a struggle with cancer, David Brewer was one of his pallbearers.)
Michael Brewer "Beauty Lies" (Warner Brothers, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Fogelberg)
This solo album from Michael Brewer sports a ton of LA-scene talent, ranging from veteran country-rockers to diehard soft-pop studio-crew regulars. Although it almost painfully reflects the gooey, ornate sound of mid-to-late-'70s AOR, it still has its charms. Producer Dan Fogelberg leaves a strong mark on the sound (including a few of his own songs in the set list) and there is a certain formulaic feel that may be distracting or, depending on your point of view, a welcome throwback to the pop music of several years earlier. Either way, it's nice to hear Brewer sing, with that distinctive, reedy tone that is still distinctive and strong, a decade or so after his salad days. Worth a spin, if you're already a fan.
Briar Patch "Briar Patch" (Delmarti Records, 19--?) (LP)
Dunno much about these guys... The group was from Cloquet, Minnesota and though it looks like more of a folkie record, they were signed to a publishing deal with Acuff-Rose, and had some pedal steel on the album. Anyone out there know more about this band?
Beverly Brice "Red Roses And Wild Violets Of Blue" (Great Record Factory, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Howard White)
A fan of Hank Snow's music, Beverly Brice was partial to old-fashioned sentimental songs, and covers oldies such as "When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again" and "Jealous Heart" -- she also wrote about half the songs on this album, including the title track, "Red Roses And Wild Violets Of Blue," which fits into the same tradition. Hank Snow himself wrote the liner notes, mentioning that Brice was from New England somewhere, and that he'd shared the stage with Ms. Brice and her mother, who apparently had a duo act together. (As far as I know, she had no relation(?) to Top Forty star Lee Brice, whose career came decades later, and who grew up in South Carolina...)
Bobby Bridger "Merging Of Our Minds" (RCA Victor, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Bridger & Bob Kramer)
A multi-talented writer, performing artist and musician, Louisiana-born Bobby Bridger made a handful of singles for other labels before recording this lofty, folk-tinged album for RCA-Nashville. In 1970, he moved to Austin and was an early participant in the pre-outlaw independent Texas country-folk scene, eventually becoming involved with the Kerrville Folk Festival, serving on its board of directors for over a decade, and performing there annually for many years. Bridger steadily became more and more interested in Western American history, and Native American rights issues... On this debut, he mixes cosmic-Christian spirituality with mildly bombastic, Jimmy Webb-esque/Glen Campbell-ish folk-pop arrangements and searching, sometimes strained lyrical profundities... On Side Two, he branches out into spacier, gooier, Tim Hardin-style dreaminess, notably on the uber-hippiedelic "Sharing's Just Another Word For Love," and the truly horrific "Sea Chanty." By and large the studio crew was not made up of Nashville regulars, although Pete Drake plays steel and slide, and it's not every day you find a record which features session guitarist Fred Carter, Jr. sitting in on bongo drums(!) Not really my cup of tea, countrywise, but worth checking out if you're in a kitschy or historical frame of mind.
Bobby Bridger "And I Wanted To Sing For The People" (RCA Victor, 1973) (LP)
Bobby Bridger "Heal In The Wisdom" (Golden Egg Records, 1981) (LP)
Bobby Bridger "A Ballad Of The West" (Golden Egg Records, 2001)
This is Bridger's magnum opus, a concept album trilogy about American Indians, with lots of narration interspersed with songs...
Dick Bridges "Texas Love Affair" (Melody Records Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Dick Bridges & Jerry Abbott)
David Briggs "Keyboard Sculpture" (Monument Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Fred Foster & Charlie Tallent)
A fairly funky set from Alabama-born keyboard whiz David Briggs, one of Nashville's most ubiquitous studio musicians of the late 1960s and '70s. There's a heavy Muscle Shoals vibe on here, and though there's an inevitable undercurrent of major label prefabishness, some tracks may make you sit up and take notice. Sure, his versions of "Lady Madonna" and "Heard It Through The Grapevine" sound kind of trite, and nobody ever has to hear "Light My Fire" ever again -- in any version -- but Briggs' freewheeling riffs on tunes like "Itchy Fingers" and "Moon Strut" are surprisingly soulful. Worth a spin. [Note: this album was repackaged a couple of years later as Son Of A Preacher Man, on the budget-line Harmony label.]
Henry Briggs "Henry Briggs Sings... Miss Pauline" (Chandelier Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Leon Malphrus & Henry Briggs)
The South Carolina duo of Henry Briggs and Leon F. Malphrus charged the ramparts of Nashville back in the late 'Sixties, leasing their song, "Miss Pauline" to Decca Records after recording it on an indie, Comet Records. An amiable, super-twangy tune with plenty of bounce, their version went nowhere, although a goofy-sounding cover version by Biff Collie (recording under the pseudonym of Billy Bob Bowman) hit the charts in '72, peaking out at #55. Turns out that was all she wrote, as they say, though Briggs and Malphrus kept at it, and a few years later they went private label to release this fine set of Southern twang. Of the dozen tracks on this album, eight were originals, with classics by Johnny Cash, Hank Cochran and Dallas Frazier filling in the gaps. Briggs was an appealing performer, with an unpolished vocal style reminiscent, perhaps of Roger Miller or Bobby Bare. Canadian rodeo rider Cody Bearpaw also recorded a version of "Miss Pauline" in 1978, and Mr. Maphrus (1931-2012) wrote some more songs in the '70s, but basically these guys headed back home to Ridgeland, SC after their fling with fame. (One interesting aside: Maphrus's previous claim to fame was getting busted by the feds in 1964 as part of a multi-state moonshine ring, centered in Pensacola, Florida... Now that's country!)
Leon Briggs "Dreamin' Again" (1987) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Roberts & David Gilmore)
Rough-hewn, stripped-down country story-songs with bare-bones arrangements and straightforward production... Kansas City singer-songwriter Leon Briggs has kind of a Merle Haggard vibe to him, both vocally and in his musical approach, and while this fine DIY album lacks pedal steel, there's fiddle, banjo and dobro adding the right amount of twang, and a loose, chunky sound that gives it a distinctive feel. Briggs has a few rough edges as well, as heard on "Nothin' In A Name," a novelty song about a guy who can't be bothered to remember (or learn) the name of whatever woman he's with at the moment, or "Old Whiskey And Young Girls," which has a similarly dude-centric point of view that almost drifts into Hank Jr./Toby Keith territory... A nice indie twang set from the heartland... These songs were all originals, written between 1980-87.
Leon Briggs & Peter Fisher "Hang And Rattle" (2008) (MP3)
I'm guessing this is the same guy, just twenty years later... Anyone know if he recorded anything else?
Jerry Bright "Be Mine" (Goldust Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Bright & Emmit Brooks)
Like a lot of early rockabilly artists, Las Cruces, New Mexico's Jerry Bright also recorded some more country-sounding material later in life... Bright is best known for his late '50s single, "Be Mine," which he originally recorded as a single, with his friend Bobby Fuller backing him up. A couple of decades later, he recorded this album, which includes a new version of his old song. It's basically a '50s-style oldies album, though there is a roadhouse/country twang undercurrent and some nice pedal steel on several songs, from local pickers Kenny Trantham and Calvin Turbeville. Nothing earth-shattering here, to be sure, but a nice example of the mellow roots music crossovers on the desert twang scene.
Briley & Branch "Briley & Branch" (Prodigy Records, 1978) (LP)
The lounge duo of composer Pat Briley and vocalist Judy Branch worked in Florida in the mid-1970s, playing largely in a pop-jazz standards mode, though with some country in the mix as well. Branch worked as a singer in the Harry James band for a while, and brought a scat-singing background to the duo's work. As far as I know, this was their only album.
Marc Bristol & The Okie Doke Band "This Feelin' " (King Noodle Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Marc Bristol & Steve Babcock)
Ah, the sounds of pre-grunge Seattle, back when flannel was just flannel, and hippies roamed wild in an irony-free landscape. This album is from a guy who lived in the Seattle suburb of Duvall, Washington (which was probably a lot more rural back then than it is now...) and it's a great example of pure, goofy, amateurish "private press" recordmaking... It's more folkie-oriented than the stuff I like, but there is a little bit of country twang in here, with some fairly unsophisticated lap steel and dobro from Marty Lepore, who went on to become a mainstay of the Seattle-area bluegrass scene. For his part, Bristol plays harmonica and guitar as well as some washboard, wood saw and even a bit of kazoo, which gives you a sense of the whimsical quality of a lot of this album... There's banjo and mandolin in here as well, and the bluegrass-y parts are probably the best. This has a strong feel of an album made by a bunch of friends, though maybe not the best pickers in the world... There's not much on here that really caught my imagination, but it's definitely an authentic DIY relic... Apparently Bristol wrote a column for the old hippie bible, The Whole Earth Catalog, some of which he, ahem, recycled into a book called Homegrown Music. Anyone know more about these folks?
Dan Brock & Louise Brock "Kentucky Songbag" (Donerail Records, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Brock)
This is one of the earliest examples of bluegrasser J. D. Crowe working as a bandleader, with Bobby Sloane and Doyle Lawson backing him up as Kentucky Mountain Boys, the nucleus of the band that would later be called The New South. It's a slightly odd album, with fairly staid folksong vocals by Dan and Louise Brock, who cite the esteemed John Jacob Niles as their main inspiration... Their singing is hardly bluegrass style, but the shared history of the music helps bridge the gap, although the Kentucky Mountain Boys keep mostly in the background, with Crowe's (or Lawson's) banjo being the most prominent instrument in the mix. They get to stretch out instrumentally on a couple of tracks on Side Two, but for the most part this is kind of a work-for-hire album. Nice set of Kentucky-related folklore, though, with a mix of standards and oldies from popular song (Stephen Foster, et. al.), gospel, and a few contemporary tunes like "Coal Tattoo." Definitely worth a spin!
Jaime Brockett "Remember The Wind And The Rain" (Capitol Records, 1969)
A folksinger originally from Grafton, Massachusetts, Brockett scored an unlikely "hit" on the underground radio scene with his rambling, 13-minute long song, "The Legend Of The U.S.S. Titanic," which is included on this album...
Jaime Brockett "2" (Capitol Records, 1970) (LP)
Jaime Brockett "North Mountain Velvet" (Adelphi Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Heyrman & Scott Johnson)
Although his first album gave him some early '70s cred, if you ask me, this record is Brockett's masterpiece. An eclectic set packed with talent from various corners of the roots-music world... Bluegrassers such as Ricky Skaggs, John Starling, John Duffey, Mike Auldridge and various members of the late-'70s edition of the Seldom Scene crew add some sweet acoustic twang, while pedal steel player A. J. Rubino adds a dreamy vibe to a couple of spacey, Byrds-y cosmic country tunes, and there's even a touch of Celtic folk, as on his version of "The Ballad Of Darcy Farrow." Standout tracks include an appropriately laid-back version of Bryan Bowers' "Lost My Stash" and the album's true novelty-song classic, "Just Stopped By To Git A Cup Of Coffee," a cheerfully perky, hippie-trucker hybrid written by folk legend Ramblin' Jack Elliott, who duets with Brockett while the Seldom Scene boys gallop away -- great, hilarious lyrics lampooning the CB-trucker fad of the time, with an irresistibly catchy musical hook. They used to play that one ALL the time on KFAT, when I was a kid. This is a really fun record, definitely worth tracking down.
Broken Bow "Arrival" (Couderay Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Murphey & Adrian Wiedmann)
An all-original set by this twangband from Madison, Wisconsin. A popular live act, Broken Bow featured Steve Barr on bass, Chip Duncan (guitar and vocals), Helt Oncale (banjo and guitar), Dan Showalter (pedal steel), and drummer Rick Tacey. The music is pretty straightforward country stuff, with more of a country-rock vibe on most tracks. All the tunes were written by members of the band, except "No Better Feelin'," by Sandy Sowell, who I assume was a friend of the band. Picker Helt Oncale may have originally been from Germany, as he later did studio work on some schlager albums, as well as his own solo set, Day To Day, which came out in 1996. Lead singer Chip Duncan was quite a polymath: he graduated from U-Mad with a communications degree, then went on to a highly successful career producing both feature films and documentaries, including numerous television projects; Duncan also worked in still photography and has written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. This was Broken Bow's only album, but it's a pretty good legacy!
James Brolin "...Sings" (Artco Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Hartman & Jim Spence)
Yeesh. California-born actor James Brolin, father of Josh Thanos Brolin, was just hitting his stride as a '70s celebrity when he cut this country-oriented album. Split thematically between a "City Side" and a supposedly more rugged "Country Side," this is, for the most part a pretty awful record. I mean, yeah, vocally he's vaguely in the same territory as Hoyt Axton, but his delivery is uniformly flat and monotonous, and a lot of the material sounds tired and uninvolving, despite contributions from writers such as Donnie Fritts, Red Lane, Troy Seals, and Tony Joe White. Side One -- the soft pop/countrypolitan side -- is just dreadful, although Side Two has some modest charms. There's a decent cover of Merle Haggard's "If We Make Through December," and a barroom ballad called "Bar Girl" that's okay. These are balanced, however, by a couple of unctuous aw-gee, kids-are-cute duets with five-year-old Thanos chirping alongside his avuncular papa -- on Shel Silverstein's nauseating "Daddy What If" (originally a hit for Conway Twitty and his daughter Joni) and "Let's Go Fishing" which, amazingly, is even worse. But if you ever want to embarrass Josh Brolin at a dinner party -- should the opportunity arise -- be sure to tuck a copy of this album under your arm and watch the look of horror spread across his face as you walk towards the stereo. Okay, okay... So, it was the countrypolitan era, and I suppose that given some of the real hits of the time, this album isn't really all that bad... but I wouldn't say you need to knock yourself out tracking a copy down.
David Bromberg -- see artist profile
Bronco "Country Home" (Island Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Jess Roden)
An early country-rock band from the UK, led by English guitarist Jess Roden. The group recorded three albums; the first two were reissued together on CD. There's definitely a "rural" vibe, though the lyrics meander into more of an introverted, obscurist, stoner-hippie direction. Also, it's a fairly down-tempo production, with a sludgey, almost lethargic feel on most of the songs, and a burst of louder, electrified blues-rock on Side Two. Not really my cup of tea, but interesting historically, I suppose.
Bronco "Ace Of Sunlight" (Island Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Richard Digby Smith)
In contrast to their first album, this has smoother, softer musicianship, though again the lyrics are sort of introverted and self-referential, with an unformed feel. Also less distinctly twangy... (not that there's anything wrong with that!)
Bronco "Bronco" (Earthwood Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Chris Kermit)
Not to be confused with the earlier English rock band led by Jess Roden (above), this was a folkie/bluegrassy group from Franklin, Indiana featuring singers Mike Yates and Sally Yates, who play banjo and guitar, respectively, along with drummer Bill Hahn, Harold McKee playing bass, and some pedal steel (by Rex Thomas) thrown in for good measure. The sessions were recorded in Indianapolis, though the label address was in Denver -- the Yateses spent a year or so playing in the Denver area before moving back to Indiana, and released this album through the Colorado-based, cult-fave 700 West studio. There may also be some minor confusion about when this came out: some copies show a 1977 copyright on the inner label and '78 on the back cover, but a contemporary profile piece in the Franklin Daily Journal informs us that the album came out in '77 and had a second pressing the following year. So, mystery solved. Most of the songs were originals written by Mike Yates, along with other by Bill Yates and various friends of the band. It's kind of a sweet little record, more of a folk thing, I suppose, with a John Denver-ish feel on several songs.
Randy Brook "One More Highway" (Takoma-Devi Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Don Davis)
This one's a little more folkie than the type of country I'm into, but I wanted to keep it on the radar because Arizona alterna-twangster Shep Cooke is one of the backing musicians, playing bass and "harmonics" (harmonica?) and there's also a credit for "The Phantom Slide Dobro Player," which sure sounds mysterious. Plus, it's on Takoma... so that's major cool factor just to begin with!
Barbara Brooks "Long White Beach" (Memory Records, 1977-?) (LP)
Bob Brooks & The Rustlers "Bad, Bad Memories Of A Good Time" (Memory Records, 1977-?) (LP)
A local band from Bristol, Connecticut that formed in the 'Seventies, the Rustlers featured lead singer Bob Brooks, guitarist Jim Ferrera, Jr. and bassist Al Laurendeau (an old-timer who also played traditional fiddle music on his own time. The band's drummer, Greg Borbas was a teenager when he joined the band, staying active in the local music scene for decades to come. Anyway, this late '70s album features a lot of good, straightforward cover songs -- classy stuff like John Conlee's "Rose Colored Glasses," Waylon's "Good Hearted Woman," Ronnie Milsap's "Daydreams About Night Things" and Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me Lord." The title track, "Bad, Bad Memories Of A Good Time," was written by Brooks (real name, Robert Brooke) back in 1972, and it's a cool song, although I guess it's the only original on here. Brooks is a modestly talented singer, not electrifying or overly charismatic, but competent and heartfelt, mainly sticking to mid-tempo crooning that makes good use of his slightly unusual voice. There's a hint of Hank Locklin in his tone (which might be a Florida thing?) and an un-macho feel that harkens back to the pre-hat act country sounds of the '40s and '50s where singers like Hank Snow and Webb Pierce who had kind of goofy voices nonetheless found success as emotive singers. A nice, decidedly local record made with no muss or fuss, just some solid old-school country played by guys who believed in what they were doing.
The Brooks Brothers & Their Almost Famous Band "...In Concert At The Grapevine Opry" (Yatahey Records, 1980) (LP)
There's obviously history here that I'm not totally aware of: led by Bill and Randy Brooks, the Brooks Brothers band started out in the early 1970s and stayed together though the rest of the '80s, playing local shows both large and small. But despite the longhair-rocker look, these Texas boys were actually a shamelessly cheesy lounge band, though admittedly with some genuine twang and bar-band licks in the mix. Their emotive pop ballads are super-painful, and sometimes seem to verge on self-parody: devotees of pure cheese will get a big kick out of this disc. Still, it is kind of fun to hear their gonzo, balls-out approach to working their audience, including a super-goofy routine where they dragged some dudes out of the audience to play cowbell and tambourine on a wild rendition of "Squaws Along The Yukon" -- maybe a funny part of their live show, but it sure was a weird choice to include on their record. They also deliver a lusty rendition of the Mac Davis hit, "It's Hard To Be Humble" -- another album highlight -- while the inclusion of a long version of "How Great Thou Art" foreshadowed Bill Brooks's later move into gospel music. I can't honestly "recommend" this record, but it is an authentic snapshot of these dudes and their live show. I know there are those of you out there who will get off on it for all the meanest reasons, but I think these guys were mostly just having fun and not taking things super-seriously. So laugh away... I don't think they'll mind.
Jake Brooks "Rodeo Bum" (Goldust Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Emmit Brooks)
You can file this easygoing, slightly rough-hewn set of real-deal rodeo songs right next to your Chris Ledoux albums... Indeed, over the years, Ledoux himself has covered several songs by New Mexico rodeo rider Jake Brooks, and this record features a bunch of rodeo-themed songs by the lean, lanky Mr. Brooks, as well as the topical "Little Brother," about a friend who went off to fight in Vietnam, and "Rodeo Cowboy's Wife," about the women who cheer on their hubbies while the guys pursue that eight second ride. If you like rodeo songs, you'll definitely want to check this album out.
Mary Brooks & Steve Brooks "Country Love... With A Touch Of Nashville" (Windchime Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Slate & Ben Hall)
Randy Brooks "Country Boy" (1979) (LP)
(Produced by Randy Brooks, Elmer Cole & Lee Peterzell)
Although this was definitely a secular country album -- with covers of Waylon, Hank, some '70s hits such as "Eastbound And Down" and "Somebody Done (Somebody Wrong Song)," and a weird 'Sixties pop medley kicking off Side Two -- singer-keyboardist Randy Brooks seems to have been a Contemporary Christian first, a country singer second. Brooks' previous album, from 1978, was a Christian set called Randy Brooks Sings More About Jesus, which was more in line with other albums produced by guitarist and arranger Elmer Cole. who worked prolifically on other Christian albums recorded at the Pyramid's Eye studio in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.
Brother Love "Brother Love" (Kennett Sound Studios, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Keene)
The trio of Gary Blanchard, Mike Glisson and Clyde Brown got a little assist from rocker Terry Bradley and some other folks in the orbit of the Kennett Sound Studios in Kennett, Missouri. They played all cover songs, including an Elvis Presley medley, KC & the Sunshine Band's "I Like To Do It," a tune by Jesse Winchester, one from Roy Orbison tune, and a rockabilly-era Charlie Rich song as well as a version of "The End Is Not In Sight," from the Amazing Rhythm Aces. Eclectic, to be sure!
The Brothers & The Sisters "The Brothers And The Sisters " (Soundspace, Inc., 1982) (LP)
I wanna call this "Brady Bunch bluegrass," but I don't think these kids from Dayton, Ohio were all technically related... "The Brothers" were the lads from the Bean family -- Greg, Matt and Steve -- while "The Sisters" are Eileen, Gena, Terri and Tina D'Epiro, altogether a wholesome gaggle of kids whose ages ranged from nine to seventeen years old. Their repertoire is pretty standard issue -- chestnuts like "Boil Them Cabbage Down," "Wildwood Flower" and "Orange Blossom Special" (of course!) along with gospel tunes such as Alfred E. Brumley's "I'll Fly Away" and Hank Williams' "I Saw The Light," and several well-chosen bluegrass standards from the McClain Family, The Osborne Brothers, et.al. Alas, no breakdown of who played which instruments, and no producer info, though the liner notes are by Bob Ferguson, host of the WYSO radio station's "Country Jamboree" show.
Carl Brouse "American Hotel" (DTI Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Craig Luckin & Carl Brouse)
This was the lone LP by songwriter Carl Brouse (1950-2002), a New Hampshire artist notable in part for his collaborations with alt-twang luminary Tom Russell, who co-wrote for songs on here, and later recorded his own version of the title track on one of his own albums. This record might appeal to fans of the younger Rodney Crowell, or early Marty Stuart -- Brouse had a similar rock-appreciative country style, pop-aware, but definitely twangy. Plus, his laconic Southern-inflected drawl sounds an awful lot like Rodney at various points in his career. Highlights include the honkytonk boozing anthem, "These Bars (Have Made A Prisoner Out Of Me)" and the title track, which is an homage to the great American composer Stephen Foster. Brouse moved to Austin at some point, San Francisco as well, and worked with a bunch of talented people. On this album alone, he's got folks like Shawn Colvin, Amos Garrett, Bonnie Hayes and Paul Davis (which explains some of the 'Seventies AOR vibe on a tune or two...) as well as Bobby Black on steel guitar... Brouse died young, apparently from complications of diabetes. This album is a fine legacy, though! As are the few singles he recorded as well...
Alfred Brown & Willard Brown "Roots Of My Raising" (19--?) (LP)
These brothers were from Pensacola, Florida where inventor/entrepreneur Willard Brown (1935-2008) founded several successful companies, including one called Instrument Control Service (ICS), where the brothers would play classic honky-tonk style country for the employees and their families at company dinners. I believe Willard Brown also played the dobro, while Alfred was the lead singer, and perhaps the driving force behind their music. Alfred continued to perform well into the 2000s, posting videos after his brother had passed away, including this great gospel number which was recorded with vocal backing by a harmony-rich chorus of gals from the Brown family. If you're a fan of old-school, sentimental country twang, this disc might be a real find.
Billy Brown "Live..." (Roma Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Brown)
A real mystery disc, with minimal info on the front cover and inner labels, and a plain white blank back, though it does mention that this was recorded in Nashville. Your guess is as good as mine.
The Brown County Band "The Brown County Band" (Programme Audio Gold, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Scott)
A country-rock crew from Nashville... Nashville, Indiana, that is! Almost entirely original material, though several songs were written by friends of the band, along with four that were written by bandmember Rick Wilson. The band seems to have been made up mostly from two families, with brothers Greg Wilson and Rick Wilson (bass and lead vocals, respectively) and Dan and Doug Harden (banjo and mandolin) joined by the man in the middle, dobro player Mark Small.
Don Brown & The Ozark Mountain Trio "Tall Pines" (db Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Ed Drone)
Eddie Brown "Has Anybody Here Seen Sweet Thang?" (DJB Records, 1981) (LP)
All country covers and rock oldies... The label was from Columbia, South Carolina, where I imagine Eddie Brown was a hopeful lounge singer... He's backed by the Rob Crosby group, which didn't include country instruments such as fiddle or steel guitar, but did list woodwinds and both "drums" and "percussion," none of which is a good sign for twangfans.
Gene Brown "China Girl" (Chart/Music Town Records, 1968-?) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Hill)
A truly excellent honkytonk album by a guy from Ohio whose vocal style lay somewhere between Hank Locklin and Webb Pierce, which is high praise in my book. Not 100% certain when this came out, but several of the tracks were issued as Starday singles in the late '60s; this custom disc was pressed by Chart Records on an imprint that seems to have been active between 1968-69... Anyway, this is a really great album with solid vocals, strong musical backing, and a consistently entertaining set of slightly off-kilter novelty lyrics, including tunes like "A Skeleton In Every Closet," "Force Of Habit" and "Watching Plaster Fall." Never heard of 'em? My point, exactly. Five songs are credited to Gene Brown, with three more penned by Shirl Milet -- Gene Brown seems to have been under contract to Milet's company, Tarheel Publishing, though as far as I know, they were never picked up in Nashville. No info on the backing musicians, but at least some of the tracks were recorded at Starday, with whoever was in the house band at the time. If you enjoy late '50s/early '60s shuffle classics from folks like Carl Smith or Webb, you oughta dig this disc, too. (Also: how much do we love that the gal on the cover has a tattoo on her arm that reads "Gary"? Now, that's country!)
Jim Brown & Vintage Wine "Jim Brown & Vintage Wine" (Telephone Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Don Caldwell)
One of several mid-1970s albums produced at Don Caldwell's studio in Lubbock, Texas, with backing by members of the nascent Maines Brothers Band, including steel player Lloyd Maines and Don Caldwell on saxophone. Alas, not a lot of info about Jim Brown and the Vintage Wine band, though any clues are welcome. The songs appear to be all covers, including a version of "Six Days On The Road," some folkie stuff like "Reuben James" and "Last Thing On My Mind," a medley of Merle Haggard songs, and another of Elvis Presley oldies. As far as I can tell, though, there's not original material.
Marti Brown "Ms. Marti Brown" (Atlantic Records, 1973) (LP)
"Let My Love Shine" was the single...
Marv Brown & The Country Steelers "It All Started With A Song" (QCA Recordings, 1981) (LP)
This band from Columbus, Indiana featured lead singer Marvin Brown and his brother, bass player Roger D. Brown (1955-2011), along with Gary Atchley (steel guitar), Tim Fields (lead guitar) and David Hudson on drums. Though most of the tracks are cover songs, this album kicks off with three originals, "Gary's Ride" by steel player Gary Atchley, "It All Started With A Song" (co-written by Atchley and Brown) and "Mama, Will I Have To Call Him Daddy," penned by Jimmy Hill, a local friend who contributes the liner notes. I'm not sure if these guys played many shows, though Roger Brown, at least, was in several bands over the years, including a gospel group called the Gospel Rhythm Airs, which apparently performed at the Grand Ole Opry.
Max Brown "Max Brown" (Belle Meade Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Scotty Moore & Al Gore)
A Top-40 hopeful, singer Max Brown dabbled in Charlie Rich-ish/Conway Twitty-esque "sunshine" country, along with more standard-issue ballads with a couple of good cheating songs thrown in for good measure. He covers Mac Davis's "I Believe In Music" and "I'm Gonna Paint You A Song" along with the perky "Beautiful Sunday," as well as three songs of his own: "Yes Indeed," "I Could Write A Book," and the schmaltzy but oddly compelling "1955 Was A Very Good Year." Brown had an okay voice, with sometimes-iffy phrasing, with strong backing from a studio crew that included D. J. Fontana on drums, Dale Sellers playing lead guitar and Jim Baker on steel... A nice example of an indie artist making a go of it in a mainstream format. Brown had the right sound and probably could have made it in Nashville, although these songs were maybe two or three years out of date by the time this album came out.
Milton L. Brown/Various Artists "Closed Session: The Soundtrack Album" (DoBro Enterprises, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by Milton L. Brown)
Funded by an arts grant from the state of Alabama, this album was an adaptation of a stage play written by songwriter Milton L. Brown, and features several local musicians from Mobile singing original songs which Brown either wrote or co-wrote. One of the performers is early '80s country crooner Leon Raines, who recorded one major-label album and had a string of mildly successful singles charting in the country Back Forty; the other artists were more obscure: The Davis Kids, De De Grant, Tony Martin and Phaedra, as well as Brown himself on a tune or two. Several of the songs were co-written by Steve Dorff and a couple with Paul Overstreet, and the Nashville-based recording sessions included Larry Byrom on guitar, Lloyd Green playing dobro and steel, and Buzz Cason adding some vocals.
Phil Brown "The Country Sound" (Panorama Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by John Shiriam & Cliff Parman)
A bit of a mystery disc here... Recorded in Nashville, this undated album was co-produced by guitarist-arranger Cliff Parman, and certainly has a country flair, with songs such as "Fool Behind The Bar," "Cold Grey Light Of Gone," and a version of Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings." The originals on here include "Short Handle Hoe," which was credited to producer John Shiriam, and was also released as a single... Shiriam, however, is an enigma -- these records are the only trace of him online, so perhaps that was a pseudonym?
Sue Brown "...Sings The Gospel" (Chapel Tone Recordings, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Stan Anderson & Herb Kallman)
Originally from Dixon, California, in the Great Central Valley, Sue Brown started her career as a secular country singer, performing at local venues in northern and central California, and even hosted a television show in Sacramento. When her friend, gospel singer Polly Johnson died in a plane crash on May 7, 1964, Brown was deeply shaken and converted to a career as a gospel singer. She retained her rural roots, though, as heard on this fine album, recorded with The Christian Troubadours, a twangy band from Stockton that had a more-country sound than most gospel groups of the era. The opening notes of this album feature pedal steel and electric guitar, hinting at the more robust sound of West Coast country, and although the twang is mostly subdued, it's there. Brown had a fine voice, with clear country roots -- there are strong hints of Kitty Wells in her delivery, tempered by more modern influences such as Skeeter Davis and Patsy Cline. Students of country-gospel and southern gospel will find a lot to enjoy about this album, in particular the wealth of original material, including five songs composed by Chapel Tone owner Herb Kallman, another influential figure int he Central Valley gospel scene. One of these songs, "Don't Turn Jesus Away," is also co-credited to Sue Brown. The repertoire also includes classics by Albert Brumley, Thomas A. Dorsey, Mylon LeFevre and Ira Stanphill's "Mansion Over The Hill." Sue Brown (later Sue Brown Osbourn) performed tirelessly throughout the Valley, living in Lodi and Fresno, where she worked with legendary studio engineer Stan Anderson; later she retired to live in Henryetta, Oklahoma, where she continues to perform well into the 21st Century.
Sue Brown "I've Been Changed" (Chapel Tone Recordings, 19--?) (LP)
Sue Brown "Hold On To My Hand" (Chapel Tone Recordings, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Dale Hooper & Roy Ward)
Terry Brown "...And A Whole Lotta Country" (Travis Records, 198--?) (LP)
(Produced by Terry Brown & Ken Veenstra)
Hard country honkytonk from Tampa, Florida, recorded live at a place called The Country Junction... This includes covers of Jerry Reed's "East Bound And Down" and John Anderson's "1959," which places the show sometime in the early 'Eighties. It looks like Brown also released a few CDs, several years later.
Tommy Brown "With Guitar In Hand -- Tommy Brown Sings" (Brown Records, 19--?) (LP)
An obscuro-unknown from Lizella, Georgia singing country standards such as "Anytime," "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," "Gentle On My Mind," "Oh, Lonesome Me" and "Release Me," as well as his own song, "Wrong Side Of Her World." Hard to pin down the date on this one, but guessing from the early countrypolitan cover songs (and the typography) I'd say maybe early '70s, maybe 1970-ish. As always, additional info is always welcome!
Tommy Brown "The Best Of Tommy Brown" (Top Records, 19--?) (LP)
Once again, mostly cover tunes, along with a version of his song, "Wrong Side Of Her World."
Jackson Browne "Jackson Browne (Saturate Before Using)" (Asylum Records, 1972)
(Produced by Jackson Browne & Richard Sanford Orshoff)
Yeah, I know... It's long been fashionable to mock and deride Jackson Browne as a wimp, a cheeseball, one of the ultimate '70s dino-rockers... And I'll concede that his earlier albums are, by and large somewhat lugubrious and overinflated -- there are songs on them that I like, but many more that are, frankly, way overwritten and insufferable. Nonetheless, he's firmly in the SoCal country-rock pantheon -- a protege of David Geffen and an early buddy of The Eagles, Browne was key to the development of the singer-songwriter/adult pop genre, and dipped into true twang from time to time... This debut album has a bunch of his best-known songs, including a few faves like "Doctor My Eyes" (guilty pleasure, though I'm pretty much over it) and "Something Fine" (which still holds up) and a bunch of songs that have always struck me as a bit too precious. Still, it's canonical and all.
Jackson Browne "For Everyman" (Asylum Records, 1973)
(Produced by Jackson Browne)
Of his early albums, I'd recommend For Everyman the most, just 'cuz the songs are catchier and more overtly "pop." Winners include his version of "Take It Easy," "These Days," and the jaunty novelty number, "Red Neck Friend." And then there's the usual pretentious-poetic stuff. Musicians include Glenn Frey and Don Henley of the Eagles, Sneaky Pete on pedal steel, David Lindley on just about everything else, and a bunch of LA "usual suspects," in one big SoCal rock-star lovefest. Some folks dig it, some folks don't.
Jackson Browne "Late For The Sky" (Asylum Records, 1974)
(Produced by Jackson Browne & Al Schmitt)
Nothing on here I really care about... A lot of poetic would-be profundity, etc., etc. Not my cup of tea.
Jackson Browne "The Pretender" (Asylum Records, 1976) lipcuecom-20">
(Produced by Jackson Browne & Jon Landau)
Ditto with this one...
Jackson Browne "Running On Empty" (Elektra Records, 1977)
(Produced by Jackson Browne)
A not-so-guilty pleasure. This album remains one of the best country-rock records ever made, and when measured up against most of the alt.country acts of the '80s and '90s, this is indeed a superior product. A concept album about driving the long, lonesome highway and touring in a rock'n'roll band, this disc is packed with winning songs. It had several hits: the title track, "You Love The Thunder," his version of the doo-wop oldie, "Stay," given a modern, sardonic twist in the context of the weird, mutually parasitic relationship between rock stars and their fans. There are also a slew of great, non-hit country tunes, like "Nothin' But Time," "Shaky Town," and "The Road" that stack up quite well against anything the cowpunk and insurgent-altie crowd has come up with. Browne's road songs are as self-involved and navel-gazey as other songs of the genre, but he seems to have a self-awareness, and a willingness to explore the ickiness of situation that is lacking in many similar compositions. The sexism of the opening verse "Rosie" -- a song about a groupie -- is tempered by a deft humanization of the objectified girl, and by Browne's remarkable willingness to portray himself and his fame in an unfavorable light, either as honest autobiography, or as an Almost Famous-style character sketch. At any rate, I think this is a fine album, well worth checking out and listening to without the hipster blinders on: you might be surprised by how good it really is.
Severin Browne "Severin Browne" (Motown Records, 1973)
Well... While we're at it, might as well give a nod to Jackson's brother Severin, who cut a couple of albums in the early '70s in an unlikely matchup with the R&B powerhouse, Motown Records, which was trying to branch out at the time. You can kind of see it, though: there's a lightly funky undercurrent to many of Browne's songs, his soft-pop singer-songwriter tunes had a mild groove to them, ala Michael Franks. Although several country-rock stalwarts are on here backing him up -- Richard Bennett, Emory Gordy Jr. and Sneaky Pete Kleinow -- there are also cello and conga players to reckon with, and Browne's own gentle piano riffs. This disc is basically a straight-up soft-pop outing, not quite as slick as, say, Seals & Croft, but in that vicinity, so for most twangfans this might be a no-go. But soft-rock aficionados might really dig it.
Severin Browne "New, Improved" (Motown Records, 1974) (LP)
Lee Browning "Country And Western Demo: Male Vocals" (Frederick Records, 197--?) (LP)
The very epitome of a low-rent, ultra-generic "song poem" release, this album touts itself as "a variety of songs written by Lee Browning," produced by the Sundance Productions studio in Dallas, Texas. Unfortunately, the actual musicians on the album remain unnamed -- there are two different male voices, though it's doubtful that Browning played as well. Anyone out there have more info about this record?
Dr. George Ray Bruce & The Quarterwinds "First Set" (Quarterwinds Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Eddie Howard)
An orthopedic surgeon from Seneca, South Carolina, Dr. George Ray Bruce led his band, The Quarterwinds, for several years, making at least one album in the early 'Eighties. It's not all country, though there's definitely some twang in the mix -- along with "Danny Boy" and whatnot, he plays country classics such as "Me And Bobby McGee" and "Welcome To My World," along with more contemporary hits such as Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again" and "The Rose." Dr. Bruce was a beach band musician and jazz trumpet player (uh-oh) and is joined here by other locals, including keyboardist and arranger John Allen, Linda Allen (tambourine), Bob Dennis (lead guitar), Tony Ledford (rhythm guitar), Roger Roach (drums) and Roger Stone on bass. The group was still holding down their residency at a place in Greeneville called Ye Olde Fireplace when they cut this disc; despite the hopeful album title, this seems to have been their only record.
Albert E. Brumley, Jr. "Legendary Gospel Favorites" (Memory Valley Records, 1986-?) (LP)
(Produced by Vic Clay & Jackson Brumley)
The son -- or rather, sons -- of country gospel pioneer Albert E. Brumley pay homage to their father's work. The senior Mr. Brumley (1905-1977) wrote ebullient spiritual classics such as "I'll Fly Away" and "Turn Your Radio On," along with hundreds of other songs that remain bedrocks of the American gospel canon. Albert E. Junior sings lead on these two albums, recorded at the same time with a crew that included producer Vic Clay on lead guitar, Bruce Watkins (banjo, fiddle, mandolin), Terry McMillan (drums, harmonica), and of course his brother, Tom Brumley, an influential steel guitarist known for his work with Buck Owens and country-rock pioneer Rick Nelson. Several pianists also sat in on the sessions, most intriguingly Tennessee's then-governor Lamar Alexander(!), who tickled the ivories on both albums. Although their father was born in Oklahoma, the Brumley family had relocated to Missouri by the time the boys were born, though of course Nashville beckoned when the time came to make these records...
Albert E. Brumley, Jr. "Sentimental Favorites" (Memory Valley Records, 1986-?) (LP)
(Produced by Vic Clay & Jackson Brumley)
This album includes the same backing band as above
Tom Brumley "Tom Cattin' " (Steel Guitar Record Club, 1973-?) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Bradshaw & Don Jewell)
One of several musically inclined siblings, steel guitar legend Tom Brumley (1935-2009) was the son of country gospel star Albert E. Brumley and grew up playing in a family band with his brother Albert Junior, who followed in their father's footsteps and became a gospel performer as well. It was while backing his brother at a recording session in California that Tom Brumley was spotted by West Coast honkyonker Buck Owens, who soon recruited Brumley for his band. Brumley joined the Buckaroos in 1964 and it was a perfect match for the bouncy, melodic style meticulously crafted by Buck Owens and his bandleader, guitarist Don Rich. You'll instantly recognize Brumley's crisp, clean, decisive phrasing and bright, assertive tone. If there are great, old classic country songs where you hear that one short, perfect steel lick and think, "oh, man!" and wish for more, then this disc is for you. Brumley digs deeper into his melodies than the sideman role would normally allow, building up some pretty groovy, playful riffs, but he doesn't get all artsy and lofty about it, sticking close to the concise, poppy approach of the back-to-basics Bakersfield scene. It's good. Really good. Fun stuff!
Cliff Bruner & The Texas Wanderers "Legends Of Western Swing Series" (Delta Records, 1981) (LP)
One of the legendary early architects of classic western swing, Texas fiddler Clifton L. Bruner (1915-2000) had his heyday in the 1930s and '40s, when he played in Milton Brown's band, then founded his own group, where he helped launch the career of piano pounder Moon Mullican. Although Bruner broke up his touring band in the 'Fifties, he still played locally in the Lone Star State and kept up his chops over the years, as heard on this indie album, which served as a last hurrah for his recording career. He revisits oldies such as "Faded Love" and "Maiden's Prayer," and gets a little playful on more modern tunes like "Cotton Eyed Disco." It's not as electrifying as his old stuff, sure, but it's always nice to hear old-timers give a mature twist to the music they love.
Dick Bruning "The Smooth Country Style Of Dick Bruning" (Stop Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Pete Drake)
Singer Dick Bruning (1939-2013) hailed from around Galesburg, Illinois, and worked in a band called the Mississippi Valley Boys with a fella named Dale Wenstrom (1925-2010) who wrote most of their material. This album includes covers of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Mickey Newbury, as well as one tune credited to Dick Bruning ("I'll Stop Loving You") and four that were penned by Mr. Wenstrom. A couple of those songs were previously released on a single in 1967, though I think these versions were new recordings. They both had days jobs, of course: Bruning was an ironworker, while Wenstrom was a World War Two vet who served in the Pacific theater, came home and farmed for over a decade in Illinois then re-upped in 1959 and wound up serving in Vietnam, later to become an Army drill seargent until he retired in '82. So if you had something to say about his music, you probably wanted to choose your words well. In addition to this album, they also released a single in with a topical song called "Pakistan Disaster," about a 1970 hurricane that caused tens of thousands of deaths.
Wayne Brunner "Songs Of Wisconsin" (Jen Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Brunner)
Though he'd been living in Tucson, Arizona since the early 1960s, singer Wayne Brunner was a native Wisconsonite and a badger boy, through and through. He also had a real appreciation for the Johnny Cash sound, and cheerfully thunka-thunka-ed his way through a bunch of his own original tunes, notably on "T. R. Special," a regional pride song packed with Badger State landmarks, including the Point Beach nuclear power plant, which opened in 1970 in Brunner's hometown of Two Creeks, Wisconsin. Brunner previously released the song as a single with his old band The Nite-Cappers, which also included Mike Burek and Bob Squire. It's possible Mr. Brunner recorded another album, or planned to: in 1970 he copyrighted a slew of non-Wisconcentric songs, including titles such as "A Better Man Of Me," "Common Every-Day Life," and "Super-Lover," although as far as I know, only a couple of these songs were recorded by the Nite-Cappers, probably in 1969.
Brush Arbor - see artist discography
The Brush Arbors "Old Brush Arbor" (M&M Gospel Studio, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Wade Mitchell)
Not to be confused with the pioneering country-rock gospel group, Brush Arbor, this amateur band features guys from two families in Jamestown, Tennessee, the Roysdens and the Winninghams, playing a set of straight-up gospel oldies. The musicians include a few country touches, with Perry Winningham on banjo, and lead guitar by Harold Hatfield. This privately released album also features a couple of original songs, "Are You Building A Temple In Heaven," by Perry Winningham, and "Patience From Above," by Patricia Roysden.
Brushwood Laurel "Build Me A Cabin" (Tyloa Records, 1978) (LP)
An eclectic bluegrass band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin whose set list includes a cover of Leroy Preston's "Somebody Stole His Body" a bunch of classic country gospel songs, bluegrass standards and two originals, "Another Man's Shoes" and "Goodbye Mr. Devil." The group included Diane Alexy on bass, Paul Brushwood (banjo), Bo Larson (fiddle), Mary O'Connor (vocals), Tom Siewert (drums), and Chris Stacey playing guitar.
Brushwood Laurel "South On 41" (1981) (LP)
Though still bluegrass-y with a bit of country twang, this album has a distinctly folk-pop tone, reminiscent of John Denver, as well as a strong undercurrent of Christian messaging. One gets the impression that bandleader Paul Brushwood really wanted to move in a contemporary Christian direction, but wasn't quite ready to decisively make the transition. At any rate, this will still be of interest to some bluegrass fans, and on the country side of things, perhaps interesting to fans of bands such as Brush Arbor, or the Christian country of Al Perkins and his posse. Also, the band's lineup changed, dropping down to a four-piece with just guys, no gals - with John Holtze joining on bass.
Wes Bryan "Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow" (U. S. International Records, 19--?) (LP)
A songwriter from Murphy, North Carolina, Wes Bryan was a teen rock-pop singer back in the late 1950s, and became a pretty successful songwriter, finding a slot in the Brill Building music factory. He's penned material recorded by Dorsey Burnette, Glen Campbell, David Houston, and others. This album was recorded in Los Angeles, though unfortunately there are no producer or musician credits.
Boudeleaux Bryant "Boudleaux's Bestsellers" (Monument Records, 1963) (LP)
(Produced by Fred Foster, Bill Porter & Tommy Strong)
A set of easy-listening instrumental versions of classic Bryant compositions (and a few less well-known numbers) with arrangements by Tupper Saussy and Bill McElhiney. The musicians aren't identified, though I'm sure they included a slew of Nashville studio pros...
Felice Bryant & Boudeleaux Bryant "A Touch Of Bryant" (CMH Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Singleton)
Two of the greatest pop and country songwriters ever, singing their own stuff in a super laid-back session... The Bryants did find themselves in the odd position of approaching their own material well after it had attained "oldies" status and particularly on classics such as "All I Have To Do Is Dream," "Bye Bye Love," and "Rocky Top," they ran the risk of sounding like cover artists when compared to the zippy hit recordings. To be honest, these Nashville sessions are really pretty goopy, and while I am generally a fan of hearing songwriters perform their own material, the Bryants both sounded pretty old on these tracks... It's not disastrous, by any means, but the arrangements are snoozy and lack the manic energy the Bryants showed on this early Hickory Records singles. Mostly of academic interest, I suppose.
Roger Bryant "The Roger Bryant Phonograph Record" (Carpenter's Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Carpenter & Michael Murphy)
A native of Logan County, West Virginia, Roger Bryant had real back-country roots, though he and dobro player Bill Carpenter didn't mind bringing the music into the (then)modern age on this twangy, acousticky set of all-original material. Songs include "Daytime Television," "Hillbilly In Florida" "Lock, Stock And Barrel," "I Walked Out On Baby's Love Tonight" and "Fair Weather Wife" along with a bunch of others, all written by Bryant. According to the liner notes, he got a college degree and started working as a teacher at his old, hometown high school, but decided to pursue a career in music instead... As far as I know, this was his first record.
Roger Bryant "Allegheny" (Americountry Records, 19--?)
A native West Virginian, country songwriter Roger Bryant was the grandson of folk musician "Aunt Jennie" Wilson, a local banjo player and traditional singer who was a big hit at Southern folk festivals during the late 1950s and '60s. Bryant carried the family banner on several albums, including this one which mixes novelty material (like "Stomp That Cube," an anti-Rubik's cube novelty song) as well as some well-crafted country stuff, with a strong Merle Haggard influence. This album has surprisingly strong production for an uber-indie album... and he's a soulful performer. Definitely worth a spin!
Wally Bryson "Country Fiddlin' With Wally Bryson" (Davis Unlimited, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Davis & Wally Bryson)
An old-timey fiddler who won the Alabama state championship in 1974, Wally Bryson also recorded on other folks' albums, notably with the Blaylock Brothers bluegrass group.
The Bryte Show "The Bryte Show" (Bryte Records, 198-?) (LP)
Born in Georgia, singer Judy Gore (aka Judy Bryte) was one of those folks whose big break was always just around the corner. In Bryte's case, this lasted for well over a decade. First boosted in the late '60s by actress-singer Kaye Stevens, she toured for over a decade, ping-ponging between the Midwest, Vegas and Nashville, with long stints at clubs in Saint Louis and Detroit. Bryte made an appearance on the Mike Douglas show in 1970, performed on the Grand Ole Opry in '72, and cut her first single in 1974, the Jimmy Bowen-produced "Standing On The Promises (You Made)" on Opryland Records. Although she seems to have plugged away steadily and got some buzz going time after time, Bryte found few opportunities to record, cutting additional singles in 1978 and '80, and finally this album, which seems to have been cut circa 1980-82, when she was playing shows in Printer's Alley and at the Opryland Hotel. In the late 'Seventies, Judy Bryte recruited two "sisters" to sing harmony and beef up her act, working first in a duo with Kathy Bryte, then adding Sally Bryte to form the trio that sings on this album. Ms. Bryte seems to have settled down around Panama City, Florida where as late as 2016, she was singing at Mickey Gilley's club; she also wrote a play based on the life of country pioneer Minnie Pearl, called "Beneath The Hat," which premiered in Panama City in 2016. As far as I know, this is her only full LP.
Bubba & Nicky "Back Porch Country" (Deanne Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Dean Narramore)
This one is super-duper amateur hour stuff... The husband-wife duo of Elmer ("Bubba") and Nicky Charles were a couple from Deer Lodge, Montana who were possessed of big hearts but modest talents. Now, I'm not in this to make fun of people, but even I have to admit that this disc has limited appeal. It's authentic, low-profile country DIY, and the Charleses wrote several songs themselves, but the album is poorly recorded and their performances -- particularly the vocals -- aren't exactly top-flight. However, if like myself, you've gone down the rabbit-hole of appreciating the efforts and aspirations of little guys and unknowns, you might wanna check this out... There's definitely enthusiasm and energy here, just not much musically that actually swept me up and made me sing along. Notable among the studio musicians is guitarist Bob Buell, who later led the Idaho-based band Coltrain and may have done session work on other albums. I couldn't discover this album's release date anywhere online, though it looks most likely late-1970s, possibly early '80s.
Buck & Tiny "Buck And Tiny's Country" (LP) (1981-?) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Farmer & The Bondsmen)
The Bondsmen was a popular Memphis, Tennessee country band, anchored by the husband-wife duo of Mary Nell ("Tiny") Bonds Hutcheson (1943-1996) and her husband, guitarist James Albert ("Buck") Hutcheson, who is best known as a longtime on-again/off-again member of the Jerry Lee Lewis band. They met in the late 1960s when Bonds moved up from from Birmingham, Alabama to headline at a club called Hernando's Hideaway, where Hutcheson was working in the house band. Tiny Bonds soon formed her own group, which she led for over twenty years, touring regionally in the South, and opening her own nightclubs. The first was called Buck And Tiny's Country was a popular Memphis honkytonk, located out on Brooks Road, as was its successor, Tiny and Gary's Stake Out. Ms. Bonds also cut a few singles, starting in the early 'Seventies, as well as this album, a covers-heavy set recorded at their club with Bonds on vocals, along with Buck Hutcheson (guitar and vocals), Gary Adair (drums) and Billy Farmer (bass and guitar). The songs include contemporary hits such as "Hell Yes I Cheated," "The Rose," and "You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma," along with some rock and country oldies, and a version of "Tulsa Time." As far as I know this was her only full album, accompanied at the time by another single under her name. Tiny Bonds retired from the music business in the early 1990s, in part due to health problems. She moved to Mississippi where she worked in the trucking industry for several years before passing away from respiratory failure at age fifty-three. Mr. Hutcheson, who first started touring with Jerry Lee Lewis in 1961 went back to work for The Killer in the '80s and has been one of Lewis' principal bandmembers over the years.
Buckacre "Morning Comes" (MCA Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Glyn Johns)
Amiable, country-tinged '70s soft-rock by a popular regional band from Illinois. They sounded kind of like the band America, with a few added Southern rock guitar riffs. Lots of vocal harmonies, and pretty gooey, amorphous songs. Really it's the songwriting where they fall flat: none of these songs really see about anything much at all... But they're all pretty easy on the ears, and folks who like the goopier side of the country-rock genre will probably dig this as sort of a semi-lost gem. Or a semiprecious stone, at least... turquoise, no doubt... Anyway, they were a competent band and the production is classic, super-slick, hermetically sealed 'Seventies stuff, courtesy of Eagles cohort Glyn Johns. Worth checking out, though not much here stuck to my ribs. The country-tinged "Just Another Night" might be about the most memorable song on here, though that's not saying much.
Buckacre "Buckacre" (MCA Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Win Kutz)
The country vibe seems to be slowly leaking out in favor of a more rock-oriented sound. Hints of Styx or Kansas, maybe, though -- god, how embarrassing! -- not quite as rocking as those guys. Terrible attempt at reggae on "Fire, Wind And Water," and a mildly interesting look at show biz with "Same Old Song And Dance." A pair of pedal steel-flavored twangtunes -- "Here's A Stranger" and "Don't Be Blue" -- point back towards their last album, but they clearly wanted to score some pop hits, and it just wasn't gonna happen. The sound mix is still pretty slick, and '70s pop fans might dig it, but nothing really wowed me here.
Buckboard "Buckboard" (CIS Northwest, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Kraig Hutchens)
This slickly-produced (but super-indie) country band from Bend, Oregon seems to have had some pretty legitimate Top Forty aspirations, with a brace of commercial-sounding original material penned by lead singer Kraig Hutchens, and solid picking by guitarist/steel player Van Coffey. The album opens with a couple of flashy uptempo numbers that showcase their guitars, notably a zippy rendition of Rossini's "William Tell Overture" that has a Bill Kirchen-esque/bar band feel, suggesting an affinity with hippie twangsters like the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, et. al. They quickly shift into more consciously commercial mode, with Kraig Hutchens going the honkytonk novelty song route on tunes like "Should I Go Home With Her," "Never Been To Jail" and "Home Away From Home," while Sandra Kaye Hutchens delve into raspy-voiced Bonnie Tyler-esque on heartsongs such as "Where Does Love Go" and "I Hear It's Warm In Texas," which she co-wrote with Kraig. In the early 1980s, Buckboard was one of the leading country bands in Portland, Oregon, and also played gigs down in Nevada, recording this album at a studio in Reno. Kraig Hutchens wound up going full-Nashville, joining Collin Raye's band on the road and in the studio; later he worked as a guitarist in the house band at Gene Breeden's Nashville studio.
The Buckboard Boogie Boys "Lucky To Be Live" (Reed Records And Tapes, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Claude Morgan)
A self-trained musician, guitarist Claude "Butch" Morgan grew up in Hondo, Texas, on the outskirts of San Antonio. Morgan did military service in the Army during the Vietnam War, getting tracked into the USO where he played for American troops stationed in Germany. Morgan got home just in time to catch the first waves of the outlaw music scene, opening for Willie Nelson and others as the new genre took off, and formed the Buckboard Boogie Boys which soon included his pal, picker-singer Larry Patton. Patton already had considerable experience as a sideman in both Texas and Nashville, including session work as a studio guitarist in the mid-'70s, and numerous live shows backing old-school Nashvillers and newcomers alike. A full-time gig as the bass player in Hank Williams, Jr.'s band ended abruptly when Williams' had a near-death climbing accident in 1975. So, came the Boogie Boys. They were twangy, but with a rugged, bluesy, boogie-rock feel, not unlike the Commander Cody Band, and worked steadily to become one of San Antonio's most best-known country-rock bands of the 1970s. This live record mixes rowdy rock-flavored originals with classics like Hank Williams' "Jambalaya" as well as plenty of banter with the audience. The Boogie Boys broke up in 1979, with Morgan going into a series of local-only Texas bands, eventually gravitating towards the folkie-songwriter scene around the Kerrville Folk Festival. Larry Patton went out on the road and then back to Nashville, where he got work with a number of bands, notably with the Flying Burrito Brothers, an on-again, off-again, decade-plus stint that started in '87. By the early 1990s, he mostly moved out of the spotlight, starting a new career driving tour buses for other musicians, folks like Delbert McClinton, Ricky Skaggs and the Oak Ridge Boys. This album caught Morgan and Patton together towards the end of the Buckboard Boogie band's glory years, though they both recorded elsewhere after the group broke up. The Buckboard Boogie Boys reunited in 2016, with Patton and Morgan joined by bassist Roger Santos and drummer Jimmy Rose, the same lineup as on this album. [Thanks to the artists' own websites and to music writer Hector Saldana, whose column about the band's first reunion show added a lot of context and background info.]
Johnny Buckett "I'm Using My Bible For A Roadmap" (Fortune Records) (LP)
Tennessee native John Chisenhall moved up North in the postwar 1940s/'50s era, singing honkytonk and hard country on radio stations in Michigan and elsewhere, though by the time he cut this album for the Detroit-based Fortune label, he had switched to country gospel material and taken up the stage name Johnny Buckett. The setlist is mostly old standards -- "I'll Fly Away," etc. -- though there are s few originals in the mix as well, including a couple of cornball recitation numbers. Not sure of the exact release date, but I'd guess late '50s/early '60s, from the look of it.
Buckeye Biscuit Band "First Batch" (EP) (1975) (LP)
A 4-song EP self-released by this early country-rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. These guys stayed together until 1982, and worked in a variety of other local bands as well...
Buckeye Biscuit Band "Fresh Candy" (Peabody Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Cavanaugh)
A spunky but uneven album from one of Ohio's best-known 1970's country-rock bands... They seem to have been trying for a Firefall-style hit, as heard on the syrupy, Dan Fogleberg-esque AOR ballad that opens this album, but they also dip back into outlaw and outlaw-esque twang that owes equal debts to early Eagles and grittier, naughtier bar bands like Chuck Wagon & The Wheels. It's a pretty wide divide, and the more mainstream-leaning material might turn some twangfans off, particularly as singer Elbert Webb had a rather, um, unconventional voice, which was constantly straining and emotive in a way that might be distracting to fans of all the various styles the band took on. Still, this album documents a significant regional band and has a wealth of original material, with several strong songs. It may not hold up when listened to from end to end, but there are some fun tracks on here, definitely worth checking out.
Buckhorn "Buckhorn" (Bowman Records/Baby Grand Recording Co., 1977) (LP)
(Produced by C. Marmont & L. Wilson)
No info online about this band, which was led by singer/guitarist Steve Sherman and recorded this album in Hollywood, California... Sherman was rocking the cowboy hat, but the band didn't include pedal steel or fiddle, so the twang factor might not be as high as some might like.
Eldon Buckner "...Sings Some Of His Favorites" (Charter Records, 19--?) (LP)
Buckshot "Two Barrels Of Buckshot" (Square Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Pete Pamenter & Derek Tompkins)
Outlaw country, Hertfortshire-style... This English twangband had a rough-edged, unruly sound, due in part perhaps to their musical limitations, but also clearly because of the allegiance to the wilder side of country. They kick things off with an edgy, rock-inflected cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," then slide effortlessly into a long string of original songs, most of them written by lead singer Pete Pamenter, whose chunky, old-man vocals add to the band's neotrad/amateur mystique. Drummer Keith Brooker also contributes a couple of songs, "There's A Will, But No Way" and the uptempo "Kentucky Morning," which is an album highlight. Dunno much about these guys, where they played or how popular they were, but this is kind of a cool album... Not as accomplished as its American counterparts, but still pretty twangy and unusually earthy by the standards of the old UK country scene.
The Buckskins "Let's Go West!" (Coronet Records, 196--?) (LP)
A western-themed band founded by singers Joe Reagan and Frank Robinson in the 1955, The Buckskins gained national fame when they won the Arthur Godfrey show's talent competition in 1957, and later became regulars on the Lawrence Welk Show... They went through a few lineup changes before cutting this album, though Robinson and Reagan still made up the core of the group. The lineup on these recordings included lead singers Reagan and Robinson, along with Slim Vick, lead guitar Jimmy Groves, accordionist Dick Johnson, and Joe Reagan's wife, Holly Lane, who adds vocals on two tracks. The repertoire is all old cowboy songs and sentimental oldies, including "Nighttime In Nevada," "Riding Down The Canyon," Black Hills Of Dakota," "Mystery Of His Way" and "All Because Of My Jealous Heart." It's possible that the other two cheapo LPs listed below are just reissues of this album (or vice versa).
The Buckskins "Let's Go West Again" (MVM/Mount Vernon Music, 1962) (LP)
Linda Buell "Linda Goes To Nashville" (Buffalo Chip's Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Logan & Jim Vest)
Singer Linda Buell hailed from Buffalo, Wyoming, just north of Casper and during the '70s she and her husband Chuck Buell fronted a band called the Fugitives which played regional gigs. She traveled to Nashville to cut this disc at the Music City Recorders studio, with Jack Logan on board as the producer, playing an all-covers set with some pretty nice selections. The packaging is unusually minimalist, with no pics of Buell on the cover and no info about the backing musicians. The thing is, though, she was pretty darn good. Buell's voice was a mix of Wanda Jackson, Loretta Lynn and Tanya Tucker -- a little thin, but soulful, and she really owns these songs, even with occasionally lackluster backing by the anonymous studio crew. Again, there's no information about the sessions, or a release date on the record, but I'm gonna guess 1978, based on the set list, which includes Ed Bruce's "Texas When I Die" and a version of "Heaven's Just a Sin Away" by the Kendalls, both of which were hits in 1977.
Linda Buell "Keeps It Country" (Vista International Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Vest, Dan Dunkleberger & Al McGuire)
On her second album, Buell worked again with producer Jim Vest, who also played steel guitar on these sessions. About half the album is original material, including one song credited to her, "Big Horn Mountain Breakdown," along with several others on same publishing company. A couple were written by Jodie Emerson (with co-credit to Wild Bill Emerson) and also sang a cover of Jerry Jeff Walker's "Never Do Nothing Right." In 1985, she and her husband moved to Nashville to try and make it as songwriters, apparently having some success getting demos placed with big stars like Alan Jackson, et. al. but for the most part she found her old-school traditional style out of synch with the increasingly glossy, pop-oriented sound of modern-day Nashville, and in the late 1990s they moved back to Wyoming. (Their son, Geoff Buell, is a steel guitar player still living in Nashville who has self-released a couple of albums of his own.) As far as I know, these two albums are the only records she made.
Buffalo "Stars Of The Bars" (Pixie Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Buffalo, Gary Lucas & Mike Kemp)
This British country trio seems to have only made one album (though I could be pleasantly surprised by more!) Not sure where they were from, though the tiny, independent Pixie label operated out of Stamford, Lincolnshire, north of London. This is a solidly honky-tonk inspired album, featuring covers of "Burning Bridges," "Rambling Man," "Rednecks White Socks & Blue Ribbon Beer," "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" and "That's The Way Love Goes." Any info about this band is welcome!
Buffalo & Brandy "I Love You" (KM Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Williamson & Cathy Potts)
A bit of a mystery album. Formed in 1977, the duo of Buffalo and Brandy are not identified by name, though they were definitely from North Tonawanda, New York, up by Niagra Falls. "Brandy" was local gal Mary Ann Ferree, while "Buffalo" mighta been Mike Stripling, who wrote or co-wrote all the songs on this album, and also plays rhythm guitar on this disc. However, the photo of Stripling on the back cover doesn't quite look like the guy on the front. I dunno. Anyway, this album seems to have been a pretty straightforward shot at contemporary (late 'Seventies-style) country heartsongs and ballads -- they went to Nashville and cut this set with backing by some seasoned pickers, with Mike Stripling on acoustic guitar, and Clyde Brooks (drums), Ralph Childs (bass), Lloyd Green (steel guitar), Tony Migliore (piano), Don Roth on lead guitar, and the Cates Sisters singing backup. They also released a string of singles on this label, for several years running, at least up until the mid-1980s, including a lot of material not included here. Ferree later formed a nonprofit 501-(C) around the group, turning her attention towards children and early intervention to prevent delinquency. I think they changed the focus of the act as well, playing primarily children's music at community events around North Tonawanda, right up through the 2020s(!)
The Buffalo Chipkickers "Cleaning Up Our Act" (Chedda Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Matthew Guntharp, Hugh Johnson & Bob Yesbek)
A freewheeling bluegrass/folk/twang band from Pennsylvania, the Chipkickers had previously released an album under lead singer Bob Doyle's name. This edition of the group included their recently-hired banjo player, Lee Ann Lenker, along with Bob Doyle on guitar, fiddler Matthew Guntharp and bassist Hugh Johnson, who had played on the earlier LP. Apparently Doyle left the band at some point; not sure when that was or how long they continued after his departure.
Buffalo Chips Band "Watch Your Step" (Guitar Cowboy Records, 19--?) (LP)
This band from Bozeman, Montana featured two main songwriters, Johnny Hale and Ric Steinke, here in more of an indiebilly/outlaw mode, though in subsequent bands Steinke got into a singing-cowboy "Western" music style.
Buffalo Country "Buffalo Country" (Universal Audio Recordings, 197--?) (LP)
This band featured piano player and lead singer Raymond "Bud" Mosley and his younger sibling Jerry, two brothers from Graham, Texas who moved to Nevada in the early 'Seventies and played in Reno and other local venues. Bud Mosely, who recorded an album of original material under his own name while still living in Texas, backed by a group he called the Whippoorwills. He founded Buffalo Country and played earlier gigs with a different lineup, but for this album he brought in his brother as well as bassist Jerry Akins and a singer named Becky Lynn (who might have later recorded a couple of albums as Rebecca Lynn, though I'm not sure if it's really the same gal...) The set list is mostly cover tunes, and as far as I know this was the group's only album.
Buffalo Nickel Jugband "Buffalo Nickel Jugband" (Happy Tiger Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Hartman & Dan Sciarotta)
It took me a few listens to warm to this one... It's a nice, standard-issue, retrodelic bluesy-jazzy jugband set with oldies such as "Alabamy Bound," "Separation Blues" and "Tain't What You Do" alongside about a half-album's worth of similar sounding material written by various members of the band. This group was an amalgamation of longhaired pickers and plunkers drawn mostly from Tacoma, Washington and the greater Los Angeles area, recording for a short-lived indie label out of Hollywood, CA. Among the musicians was Denny Hall, who had connections to the Lydia Pinkham Orchestra, a SeaTac area band that migrated to LA, as well as Bob and Lester Broersma, Ben King, Russ Lewark, and Joel Tepp. The difficulty I had with this album was its tidiness, the overall sense of being a little too controlled or trying to sound professional and precise -- there's little of the madcap, kooky abandon of, say, the Bonzo Dog Band or even Jim Kweskin and his crew... Still, they obviously had their hearts in the right place, and after two or three spins, I got into it. If you enjoy hippie-era jugband revivalists, these guys are worth checking out.
Norton Buffalo "Lovin' In The Valley Of The Moon/Desert Horizons" (Edsel Records, 1995)
A reissue of two classic albums from Northern California harmonica player/bandleader Norton Buffalo, 1977's Lovin' In The Valley Of The Moon and Desert Horizons, from 1978. At the time, Buffalo was gigging around with rock superstar Steve Miller, and was an in-demand session player - on these early solo albums he dips into country and blues, soft pop and hippie funk; later on he'd zero in on the blues tunes, but I kinda like this folkie-funky stuff from the early days.
Norton Buffalo "Lovin' In The Valley Of The Moon" (Capitol Records, 1977)
(Produced by Norton Buffalo & Steve Miller)
Norton Buffalo "Desert Horizons" (Capitol Records, 1978)
Jimmy Buffett - see artist discography
Marjorie Buffett "Take Me Easy" (Clover Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Stapleton)
Terry Bullard "Terry Bullard" (Bullet Records, 1980) (LP)
Originally from New Mexico, as a teenager Terry Bullard set out to conquer the world, moving first to LA and then to Texas, where he tried his hand at acting, country music and rodeo riding. Bullard had a regional hit with a version of Terry Stafford's "Amarillo By Morning" (a minor hit for Stafford in '73, and later a Top Five single for George Strait). He was taken under Stafford's wing for a while, and wrote a bunch of songs, but nothing ever quite clicked for him as a solo performer. This actually wasn't his first album -- he also recorded one called Pride when he was fifteen years old. Bullard apparently played in a few house bands in LA nightclubs and elsewhere, and has self-released a bunch of CDs in the digital era.
Deanna Bullock "Variety" (Jordan Recording Studios, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Dennis Hensley)
Heartfelt gospel from a country gal who first played the Renfro Valley Barn Dance back in 1961, a venue right next to where she grew up, in Mount Vernon, Kentucky. She was a regular performer at Renfro Valley for many years before she met and married a guitar player by the name of Bill Bullock. They later formed an evangelical ministry, and at some point settled down in Springdale, Ohio, a northern suburb of Cincinnati which is where they were living when they cut this disc. Bill Bullock plays lead guitar on several tracks, as does Junior Spivey, other musicians include pianist Dumpy Rice, who worked on a lot of gospel sessions, and Chris Lee playing piano on several other tracks. The song list includes a couple by Reba Rambo, an Easter Brothers tune, and two originals by Deanna Bullock, "Love Of God" and "Splittin' Up The Eastern Sky."
Deanna Bullock "Here I Am Jesus" (Jordan Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Dennis Hensley)
Another set of earthy, rural gospel from this Kentucky gal. She's backed on this album by pianist Danny Burton, Dennis Herrill (bass), Chuck Rich (dobro and steel guitar), Tim Short (drums), and Junior Spivey on guitar, as well as fiddler Junior Bennett, who provides string arrangements.
Deanna Bullock "When Prayin' Turns To Praisin' " (Jordan Records, 19--?) (LP)
Deanna Bullock "One Of These Days It'll All Be Over" (Derby Town Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Kenny Sowder)
Although the music drifts into slightly by-the-numbers southern gospel-meets-countrypolitan territory, Bullock's voice is super-appealing, and really brings these songs to life. She has a pure rural tone strongly reminiscent of Loretta Lynn or Dottie Rambo that will make hard-country twangfans sit up and take notice. Also, what power and projection! Seems like she really could have made it as a commercial country singer -- which makes her devotion to religious music even more meaningful. The title track was written by Deanna Bullock, though the album also includes songs by modern country-gospel icons such as The Rambos, The Hemphills, Tim Spenser and Ronnie Hinson
John Bult "Julie's Sixteenth Birthday" (DSR, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Ted Broussard)
The title track is a "Phantom 309"-style recitation song with an over-the-top tragedy narrative in which a no-good drunk of a dad is speeding to make it to his daughter's birthday party on time -- to just do one thing right in his life! -- and manages instead to hit the car she and her boyfriend are driving in, killing not only Julie and her beau, but himself as well. This album made the rounds as a "worst album art ever!" candidate -- a snarky hipster fad that I find fairly irritating. But it's actually not a bad record... if you like country music, that is. Singer John Bult was from Louisiana and had played in rockabilly bands years earlier, and wrote half the songs on this album, including the title track... He had a distinctive, plaintive voice, similar to Don Bowman or Vernon Oxford, but overall, I'd say he sells the song well. Good luck tracking this record down, though, since the Schadenfreude Patrol grabbed ahold of it and made it a pricey fetish item. But as indiebilly goes, this ain't bad!
Bumpy & Sawmill Run "Solid Silver" (Marjon International Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Krizancic)
Dunno too much about this New York state band, though they seem to have been big Gram Parsons fans... The group included Skin Anderson on drums, Jeff Lewis, L. E. Leidecker (bass), Don "Bumpy" Peterson, Scott Seger, and Lance Schnur on pedal steel... Schnur also played on an album by another Krizancic-produced group called The Silver Spurs, who also released an album on Marjon International not long after this one.
Bumpy & Sawmill Run "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke" (Bollweevil Records, 19--?) (LP)
Larry Bunch "...And The Tansi Cherokees" (Tansi Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Gary McVay)
If it's the same guy, bandleader Larry Bunch was a Tennessee rocker with a career dating back to the 1950s Memphis rockabilly scene, where he jammed with guys in the same circles as Sonny Burgess and the Sun Records rowdies. This album was a souvenir of a gig he landed many years later, leading a country lounge band in Tansi Lake Village, a resort located in Crossville, Tennessee. The group included Bob Johnson on bass, Junior Sharp (lead guitar), Jerry Phillips (drums), Donnie Finley, and saxophonist Ed Frenchie Rachal, who had worked with Burke in several Memphis-area bands, back in the old days. They cover a few rock oldies, like "Wipeout" and "Whole Lot Of Shakin' Goin' On," but mostly the songs come from the country side of the tracks. There's no date on this album, although the liner notes mention Finley joining the band in 1973, and some of the cover tunes came out around then: "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Behind Closed Doors," were from '73, while John Denver's "Good To Be Back Home Again") charted in '74. Overall, Larry Bunch remains a pretty elusive figure, and as far as I know, this was his only record.
Kenny Burd & The Lawmen "Kenny Burd And The Lawmen" (Nash City Records, 1974) (LP)
These East Coasters hailed from High Bridge, New Jersey although they could get twangy along with the best of 'em...And, yep, they were real-deal lawmen, at least bandleader Burd. After serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, Kenneth Burd (d. 2017) moved back to New Jersey, where he joined the local police force, serving first in High Bridge, and then in Califon, NJ, where he eventually became chief of police. Backing him were the Lawmen -- Henry Queen, Steve Lezan, Joe Weber and Bernie Mudecer, some of whom may have been cops as well. The album was at Hilltop Studios, in Nashville, and features covers of standards such as "Green Green Grass Of Home," "Reflection Of A Fool," "She Thinks I Still Care," and "Your Cheating Heart," as well as "Don't Hide The Bottle," "The Day I Started Loving You," which may have been originals. There's no date on the album, but it was probably recorded in 1973, based on a mention in a newspaper ad that ran in January, 1974.
Bureman & O'Rourke "Strawberry Pickin's" (Pearce Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Stapleton)
The Kansas City-based duo of Bruce Bureman and Tim O'Rourke seem to have taken their cues from the more established Brewer & Shipley, mixing anthemic soft rock with country and folk. They recorded at least two albums in the '70s and have played together for decades since... Sweet, spacey, folkie, rock'n'country musings.
Bureman & O'Rourke "Somebody Give Me A Smile" (Happiness Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Allen Blasco)
A great record, though you wouldn't suspect from the goofy album art that this album would have such an expansive, polished pop sound... It opens with several soft-rock anthems, stuff that bigger bands such as Bread or America would be proud of... Their twangy side soon kicks in, sending them into pleasantly country-tinged tuned like "Tomorrow There's A New Sun," which features the steel guitar of Lynne Pillar. The Brewer & Shipley influence is still there, and in a very nice way... There are rough edges, sure but that's part of the DIY charm... Devotees of hippie rock will enjoy these melodic stoner pop songs...
Jennifer Burnett "Jennifer Burnett" (National Foundation Records & Tapes, 1983) (LP)
This Nashville-produced album might have been some kind of composer's showcase - the songs are by a bunch of different people, but I don't recognize any of the names or any of the songs. I think this is a secular set, but it looks like later on Burnett started recording Christian music... Anyone got more info on this one?
Billy Don Burns "Ramblin Gypsy" (Gypsy Woman Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Porter Wagoner, Tom Pick & Roy Shockley)
Country singer Billy Don Burns headed out the gate looking pretty good... Moving to Nashville from Arkansas, he landed a staff songwriting job set up by Harlan Howard, later formed a business partnership with Hank Cochran, placed songs with Willie Nelson and other stars, an produced albums by Merle Haggard and Johnny Paycheck... A lot of doors lay open for him. Burns cut a few singles in the early 'Seventies, and finally made his first album in '82, with help from producer Porter Wagoner. Although he looked all baby-faced and earnest on the cover, Billy Don was a real-deal, leather-jacket country outlaw. In addition to a taste for motorcycles and Jack Daniels, he also had a long-running series of drug addictions, habits that held him back him professionally and much later in life led to an arrest for meth possession with a subsequent parole violation, earning a couple of years in a Kentucky prison. Willie Nelson wrote a letter to the state asking for leniency, but Burns still did hard time despite being an old dude in his sixties. This album is a fine memento of his youth, a rugged set of original material with about half the songs written by Burns, a couple more by some guys in his band, and a few Hank Williams tunes thrown in for good measure. Perhaps best of all are the back-cover liner notes, which guilelessly list his tour dates for 1981-82, a mix of local honkytonks and military bases, the kind of wear-it-on-your-sleeve sub-stardom stuff that I find totally charming. Burns went on to record several more albums over the decades, including at least one from after his parole.
The Dave Burns Four "The Death Of Tanker 585" (Olympus Records, 1977-?) (LP)
This is an odd album... in terms of its provenance, more than its content. A "custom" album of the first degree, I suspect this may have also been a tax scam, originally used in Canada and then again in the US. This edition says it was recorded by Dave and Mary Burns at the International Record Service Co., in Hollywood California... But it appears to be a reissue or a bootleg of a Canadian country album of the same title credited to "The Jackie Lee Four," which may also be another fake band name... it's hard to tell. The Jackie Lee LP was first released in 1975 with two more tracks that weren't included in this version, "Wipeout" and "The Ice Man." I suppose it's possible that this is a song-for-song cover of the early album, but it seems more likely that there's some kind of weird tax-dodge story behind this one... Still, you gotta love an album with song titles such as "Put All Your Faith In The Pill" and "Canadian Alcoholic," as well as the title track, "The Death Of Tanker 585," which is a trucking song from Canada. Also, dig the goofy liner notes: "This album contains the best of their easy flowing country-folk sound. Dave's smooth style on the keyboards surrounds Mary's lazy vocals in the best tradition of bluegrass..." Say what? Well, anyway, even if Dave and Mary were fictitious, they sure sounded like groovy cats!
Randy Burns "I'm A Lover, Not A Fool" (Polydor Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Barry Seidel)
Songwriter Randy Burns was a Greenwich Village folk-scene refugee who got into trippier acid-rock territory on his early albums for the cult-fave ESP-Disk label, recording with a group called the Sky Dog Band... Cruising into the 'Seventies, Burns dipped a bit into the nascent country-rock sound, as heard on some of the tracks here. Mostly this album is filled with expansive, melodic, pop with airy, orchestral arrangements and spacy lyrics... But there's also the skanky, abrasive swamp-blues of "I'm A Lover, Not A Fighter," a few tracks that kind of sound like The Band, and a couple of tunes with some true twang in them. Bill Keith and Kenny Kosek help with the country stuff (listed as "Stray Dogs" in the liner notes) and Keith adds some sweet pedal steel licks... I wouldn't peg this as a "country-rock" record, per se, but the rural-sounding tracks are nice, as well as the purty-sounding rock songs.
Randy Burns "Still On Our Feet" (Polydor Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Mark Abramson & Jay Messina)
A remarkable album, which was for all intents and purposes, Randy Burns' swan song... Though there is some country-ish/jug band-y twang, mostly Burns delves deep into the contemplative/confessional mode of the era, evoking (in hindsight) comparisons to Harry Chapin, Nilsson, Nick Drake and the more rueful, late-edition folk-rock version of Phil Ochs. Each of the songs are compelling, in an odd way, Burns and his band had a distinctive feel, with an emotionally density and shading that feels unusual for the time. His songs have a troubling nuance, painting a picture of a habitual drinker with a poetic soul and a bit of a mean streak, a hip, rueful, self-absorbed guy who doesn't want to get hung up on or trapped by any of his girlfriends, but who crafts beautiful songs nonetheless. This unflattering self-portrait anticipates the non-idealized confessionalism of "Americana" artists decades down the road -- I'm thinking of folks like Mary Gautier, Tom Russell and Lucinda Williams, and places this album as a striking precursor to a darker, more honest style of song. Plus, some of the melodies are haunting and memorable... One of the strongest of these songs in the album's closer, "Seventeen Years On The River," which pairs a beautiful melodic hook to a arrogant, defiant selfishness, placing listeners in a conflicted state, humming the chorus to a troubling song. In addition to the originals by Burns and keyboard player David Tweedy, there's a nice, straightforward rendition of Steve Gillette's version of the folk ballad, "Darcy Farrow" and, in an equally jarring change of tone, the sarcastic jugband ditty, "Better Things." All in all, a nice record, and an unexpected gem. Recommended.
Shelley Burns "Be For Me" (Gold Country Music, 1985-?) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Peacock)
Although she later evolved into a jazz singer, Sacramento, California's Shelley Burns cut this 6-song country EP back in the height of the big-hair '80s. All the songs were written or cowritten by pianist-producer Charlie Peacock, who went on to become a jazz musician himself, as well as a successful contemporary Christian songwriter and producer. Best of all, this is a pretty good little record, a little glossy and '80s-ish, but also rootsy enough to appeal to traditional country fans. Burns has a nice voice, the material is pretty strong, and the backing band plays with feeling and conviction... In addition to Peacock on piano, pedal steel player Marcus Welborn adds some sweet licks, as do Tom Phillips and Jim Beecker on guitar. Not classic, by any means, but surprisingly good. (Burns has also recorded a few albums of jazz-vocals material, which might be worth checking out as well...)
Gary Burr "Matters Of The Heart" (Lifesong Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Tim Geelan & Lee Yates)
Originally from Connecticut, singer Gary Burr joined the Top 40 country-rock band Pure Prairie League in the early '80s, taking over for Vince Gill, when Gill started his Nashville career. Burr also made it big in Nashville, becoming a very successful songwriter, with dozens of songs recorded by numerous artists... Before it all, though, came this poppy late '70s album, recorded in New York, before his hitmaking days.
Oscar Burr "Color Me Country" (Lamon Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Carlton Moody & David Moody)
A singer from Laredo, Texas, backed by the Moody Brothers. Burr's not a songwriter but this album seems to showcase some new material, including three songs by Hoot Gibson, with others by Quince White and Jim McCrary, plus a few cover tunes.
Curt Burrell & The Barleen Trio "Country Favorites" (Eve In The Sky Sound, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Randy Miotke)
The family band trio of siblings Barbara, Brenda and Jeff Barleen started out singing in their Kansas hometown, but pursued music professionally after the family moved to Missouri and they became park of the Ozark Mountain country scene. They were bolstered by the addition of singer-fiddler Curt Burrell, who married Barbara and emerged as a solo vocalist. By the time this album was recorded, they had moved to a gig in Estes Park, Colorado, and are joined on the recording sessions by steel player Donny Cook and lead guitar Gary Cook.
Russell Burriss "Just Happen To Have It Along" (Rustler Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Peters & Ron Livingston)
A competitive fiddler who won the Arizona state championship in 1976, '77 and '78. He's joined by fellow musicians on bass, drums, guitar, piano and steel guitar, so I guess he wasn't that into keeping things hyper-traditional.
Burrito Brothers, The Flying - see artist discography
Billy Luke Burton "The Search Is Over" (Outlaw Records, 1981)
(Produced by Gary Vandy)
This record has an odd, and probably apocryphal, back story: singer Billy Luke Burton was originally from Miami, Florida, but seems to have been living in Nashville when this album was made... He landed in the orbit of Chance Martin, a Nashville/outlaw scene insider who worked as Johnny Cash's roadie and as a professional cue-card holder to the stars. Trying his hand at management, Martin took Burton on as a client and got a deal to make an album. Supposedly, though, the record was bankrolled by gangsters and Martin tells the tale about how they sent a mob enforcer to pressure him into finishing the project (which probably was being used as a tax dodge or to launder some money...) I dunno if any of that is true or not, but that's the legend. Regardless, it's worth noting that the Chance Martin tracks are versions of songs that also appeared on his now-infamous avant-country album, In Search, which is alluded to in the title of this disc. The studio crew included Andy Eder on pedal steel and the Rhodes-Chalmers-Rhodes vocal trio singing backup -- of course, Burton never cracked into the bigtime, but like many others he sojourned to Music City to make his grab for the big brass ring.
Burton & Honeyman "Two Of A Kind" (Condor Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Melford)
The first album by the Canadian duo of Dave Burton and Gord Honeyman, who came out of the Toronto-area folk scene and made some waves on the northern Country charts. Their first single yielded their biggest hit, with "Christopher Mary" topping the charts at #1 in 1977... Subsequent singles charted lower and lower, though, with the group disbanding not long after recording their second album.
Burton & Honeyman "Burton & Honeyman" (Condor Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Bob Barnhill & Lonnie Salazar)
Their second album was produced in Nashville and gave them a sprinkling of back-fortyish singles on the Canadian Country charts. Most of the songs are originals by the duo -- they also cover a song by Kenny (Sauron) Rogers ("We Don't Make Love Anymore"), but we'll forgive them... it was the 'Seventies, after all.
Pat Burton "We've Been Waiting For This" (Flying Fish Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Melford)
This was one of the earliest releases on the Flying Fish label, an eclectic, freewheeling doozy of a bluegrass-indiebilly album featuring Illinois-born singer-guitarist Pat Burton and a bunch of his pals. These included fiddler Vassar Clements, mandolinist Michael Melford, two of the surviving Bray Brothers -- Harley Bray on banjo and Francis Bray on bass -- and alt-twang ringleader John Hartford singing and playing a little bit of everything as well. Burton had been hanging around with and playing bands with these guys for years, since the mid-1950s, and is probably best remembered for his work with Hartford, particularly on the Slumberin' On The Cumberland album, and he shows a lot of the same self-effacing, good-natured sense of humor and genre-busting musical virtuosity. The album kicks off with the half-rueful "Hit Song," a novelty song that speaks for the legions of talented living room pickers who will never hit the bigtime, as well as "Ode To Country Music," which further elaborates Burton's love of good, old-fashioned twang. He wrote half the songs on here, including "Jane Russell No. 3" and "Jane Russell No.11," and on the rest of the record dips liberally into old-timey music and traditional country, with some sweet tunes by the likes of Bradley Kincaid, Hank Snow, Lester Flatt and Hank Thompson. Clements gets a chance to shine on a cover of Thompson's "The Older The Violin, The Sweeter The Music," and Burton ends the album with some truly fine gospel singing with a gospel that included Harley and Shela Bray, on a nice version of "Heaven's Light Is Shining." Apparently this was the only album Burton released under his own name, although he got equal billing with Hartford and Martin on the Cumberland album, and he jammed with a lot of artists over the years. If you see this one, pick it up -- it's pretty fun!
Frankie Bush "I'd Rather Live In Dreams" (Bush Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Larry McCoy & Bernie Vaughn)
Originally from Minnesota, singer Frankie Bush (1955-2009) had a near-lifelong struggle with crippling scoliosis, which he developed in childhood, after doctors missed early warning signs. Surmounting his disabilities, Bush forged a career in music, first in secular country and then in gospel. He met the legendary Johnny Cash in 1975 when Cash invited him to perform with him at a show in the Twin Cities; the two hit it off, and Bush infrequently appeared with the Cash road show for several years thereafter. In the '80s, he devoted himself to religious music, and joined the Rev. Billy Graham's crusades. I believe this was his first album, recorded with top Nashville session players such as Greg Galbraith, Sonny Garrish, as well as the Cates Sisters as backup singers... Johnny Cash chimes in with a brief liner note testimonial.
Frankie Bush "Please Wait For Me" (Burning Bush Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Peterson)
Bustin' Loose "Bustin' Loose" (CIS International, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Messick)
A twangy, uptempo southern rock band from Spirit Lake, Idaho, near Spokane, Washington... The quartet featured principal songwriter Pat Coast on guitar and vocals, Ed Cann (drums), Larry Laws (bass), and Gene Repp on guitar and vocals. They had a twin-guitar sound derived from folks like Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Marshall Tucker Band, though these guys leap from a more controlled redneck rock sound into a more frantic, note-happy style at the drop of a hat, with manic guitar solos that sound kinda power-poppy and less country based. Mostly it's too manic for me, although a few tracks are slightly more subtle, like the wistful "I'm Missin' You," which I'd consider an album highlight. Pat Coast seems to have been the band's driving force, and later pursued a solo career, carving out a reputation as a blues guitarist, while also delving into country/folk/Americana material. This isn't a very subtle record, but it's worth a spin.
The Butler Brothers "Country The Way We Like It" (Programme Audio, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by David Scott)
Country and country gospel covers by ultra-obscuro bluegrassin' brothers Homer and Jerry Butler, who sang stuff like Sonny Throckmorton's "Middle Age Crazy," Ronnie Milsap's "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends," and Dolly Parton's "Put It Off Until Tomorrow," as well as some Southern gospel like "Just For A Day" by the Rambos. This album was recorded at Programme Audio studios in Greenfield, Indiana, though Homer Butler's mailing address was in Proctor, West Virginia.
Irene Butler "The Country Spirit Of Irene Butler" (Capilano Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jake Doell & Al Reusch)
Larry Butler "Searchin' For Gold" (Three "3" Star Productions, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Greenhill, Bobby Arnold & Bobby Whitten)
Not to be confused with the Top Forty producer who worked with Kenny (Sauron) Rogers, this native of Belton, Texas is hard-country, through and through. Butler is perhaps best known for the legendary tale of how he gave young, down-and-out Willie Nelson his first gig in the Lone Star state -- Willie was on his way to Nashville, but kind of a little broke, so he offered to sell Butler several of his songs for ten bucks apiece. Butler declined to rip the poor kid off, and instead loaned him some cash and offered him a job playing bass in his band. They were pretty tight ever since. Willie performs on this album, and they've made several records together over the years, including a Hank Williams tribute album. All but two of the songs on here are Larry Butler originals, and the band are all locals as well... and did I mention Willie Nelson is on here, too? Well, he is!
Butterfield Stage Line "Butterfield Stage Line" (Crimson Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Henry M. Quinn & Maynard Smith)
This trio from Downey, California played a mix of oldies and twang, including a hefty dose of original material credited to all three musicians, Buddy Banks (drums), Maynard Smith (lead guitar), and Coy Williams on bass. They took their name from a historic though short-lived stagecoach line that ran on a southern route from Saint Louis to San Francisco (with stops in Los Angeles, of course...) between 1858-61. The trio also released several singles, also on the Crimson label; other than this handful of records, I couldn't find anything else out about these guys...
Rick Byars "Fallin' In Love Everyday" (Merrell Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Byars, Eddie B. Barlow & Warren Dennis)
Archetypal Northern California/Bay Area folkie stuff, from a singer-guitarist who was in Kate Wolf's original backing band, Wildwood Flower, and performed on her second and third albums. An able accompanist, Byars also was a prolific songwriter, penning all but one of the songs on this disc, and also played in a Sonoma County trio called Lazy Bones, along with dobro player Eddie B. Barlow and guitarist Peter Brooks, who formed the core of the group on this album. Although there's a hint of Byars' twangier Texas country roots, the music quickly settles into the gentle, pastoral poetics known to Wolf's ardent fans. She sings harmony on four songs, including way in the background as a member of the "Stanislaus Chorus"; also noteworthy is the lead guitar and mandolin picking of Nina Gerber, another stalwart of the Wildwood Flower ensemble, who plays on several tracks. Overall, this is pretty gooey, dewy, touchie-feelie stuff: if you like the Kate Wolf sound, you ought to dig this as well.
Brenda Byers - see artist discography
Buster Byrd & The Studio South Band "Panama City Nights" (Southwind Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Howard Lovett)
Despite the Panama City reference in the title, this group was from Georgia, with their album recorded in Dublin, GA... The band includes keyboardist/guitarist Steve Rogers, banjo plunker Trent Howard, steel player Gary DiBenedeto, and guitar picker George Miles... Their repertoire was mostly original material, with songs written by Byrd, Rogers, and others, with tunes including "Good Ol' Fashioned Cowgirl," "Hooked On Country Music," "Bury Me Face Down" and "Love Is Filled With Emotion." There were a few cover tunes, too, including Smokey Robinson's "My Girl" and Bobby Womack's "I Used To Love Her" (both probably by way of the Stones) and one by Stephen Bishop, along with not one -- but two -- songs about Panama City, both written by Steve Rogers.
Robert Byrd "U.S. Senator Robert Byrd: Mountain Fiddler" (Rebel Records, 1978/2010)
(Produced by Barry Poss)
A much-welcome reissue of Sen. Robert Byrd's 1978 bluegrass album, a fine set of authentic West Virginia Americana... And, yes, it's that Robert Byrd, the eminent, recently departed Senate leader who gradually shifted his politics from ardent segregationism to support of various civil rights measures, and who ended his career as the longest-serving member of the United States Congress. Byrd was an avid amateur fiddler, and liked to break out the bow at political rallies and social functions. This album was, admittedly, a bit of a vanity project, but it's still pretty fun. The Senator's style is pretty ragged, more old-timey than bluegrass, although he finds strong and sympathetic backing from guitarist Doyle Lawson and his cohort, James Bailey and Spider Gilliam. It's an engaging, vivacious performance, and certainly an interesting historical footnote. And way better than any of those songs that Orrin Hatch wrote, that's for sure.
The Byrds "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" (Columbia Records, 1968)
(Produced by Gary Usher)
The Byrds "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo" (Columbia Records, 1968)
(Produced by Gary Usher)
Often referred to as the first "official" country-rock album, though there are other claimants to the throne... Really, it was simply a masterful country album, recorded by a super-famous rock band. As the story goes, stonerbilly bad boy Gram Parsons more or less muscled his way into LA's then-ascendant folk-rock band, and swiftly remade them into Nudie suit-wearing space cowboy, hippie-billies... which is to say, into his band. Naturally, there was resentment within the group, and Parsons was eventually given the boot, but not before they made this wonderful, landmark album. Gram provided most of the arrangements and repertoire, including his own classic ballad, "Hickory Wind," as well as oldies such as the Louvin's "Christian Life." Because he was under contract to another label, though, the producers at Columbia stripped Parsons' vocal tracks off the album, and replaced them with lead vocals by Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. Recent CD reissues have gone back and (partially) re-created the album as it was originally recorded.
The Byrds "Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde" (Columbia Records, 1969)
(Produced by Bob Johnson)
The Byrds "Ballad Of Easy Rider" (Columbia Records, 1969)
(Produced by Terry Melcher)
Hick Music Index