The Lainie Sisters "Emmy And Norma" (Repeat Records) (LP)
(Produced by Noel Boggs)
This was the first -- and I suspect only -- album by the Lainie Sisters, who were apparently protegees of legendary pedal steel player Noel Boggs, who produced and played on this album. The record is notable for its wealth of original material, including six songs written my the Lainies. These include "Just Keep On Hurting Me," "Fool Around," and the provocatively titled "It's No Fun To Love Alone." Along with Boggs, other musicians include Junior Nichols on drums, Red Wooten on bass and Paul Haitt on the (ulp!) "Dulcitron," a short-lived electronic claviola that was used here in place of keyboards or piano. There's no date on this album, but late '60s seems like a good bet, though, possibly as late as 1970-71. Boggs had also recorded at least one other LP for this label, which was based in Long Beach, California.
The Laketown Buskers "Rolling Along" (Vetco Records, 1981) (LP)
More on the bluegrassy/old-time side of things, the Laketown Buskers were kindred spirits to the eclectic stringband/folkie revival bands of the Twin Cities such as The Sorry Muthas and the whole Prairie Home Companion crew. A long-lived ensemble which was together for much of the '70s and early '80s.
Darwin Lamb "I Have A Dream" (Flying L Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jay Chevalier & Shelly Ford)
A spunky vanity album recorded by rancher, rodeo rider and businessman Darwin Lamb, who came from a prominent Las Vegas family, a tight-knit clan that was frequently likened to the Kennedys, in that they were so politically connected and intertwined... Among his many pursuits, Darwin Lamb was a well-connected state politician, alongside his brothers, Clark Country Sheriff Ralph Lamb and state senator Floyd Lamb, who was a crony of Governor Paul Laxalt. Darwin Lamb also acted in a handful of late '60s/early '70s films -- westerns and action movies -- and he recorded this croony country record with backing by Charlie Moore and the Western Union Band when he was 46 years old. This is a perky but amateurish album -- I wouldn't say Mr. Lamb was a great stylist, but he was definitely having fun when he cut this disc, and the band was pretty tight. Mainly, this is an interesting footnote to the history of a family that helped shape modern-day Vegas. It's okay as twang, too, though -- fans of Jim Reeves or Tennessee Ernie Ford might dig it.
Tom & Evie Lammon "Our Kind Of Country" (Black Gold, 1971--?) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Martinson, Tom Lammon & Evie Lammon)
An immensely charming album by a husband-wife duo from Aberdeen, South Dakota who were protegees of regional country legend Sherwood Linton. Linton was their manager and writes the liner notes as well, in a style that reflects the bare-bones, low rent, DIY feel of the whole project. Tom Lammon was a rocker in the early 1960s, leading a band in Minnesota called Tom Lammon & The Mystics; by the time he'd met Linton, Lammon had turned to country and tought himself to master the Merle Travis pciking style, which is the bedrock of this album. The sound is quite stripped down: it's just him on guitar, her on a thumping electric bass and modest, inobtrusive drumming by Marty Mortenson... Judging from the album cover, the Lammons hoped for a Loretta Lynn/Conway Twitty kind of vibe, although his vocals generally overshadow hers, though not by much. There's nothing flashy or super-glamorous about these recordings, but nothing embarassing either... It's just a very simple, honest, effective portrait of a real-locals DIY country duo, with plenty of fun covers of songs by The Everly Brothers, Doug Kershaw, Charlie Rich, Jerry Reed and Marty Robbins, with a couple of originals written by Tom Lammon: "Train Of Thought" and "Sleepless Nights." Well done!
Lance Romance "The Image I Portray" (Macola, 1980)
(Produced by Lance Romance & Tom Martin)
Founded in 1971, this country/rockabilly group from Enumclaw, Washington was a stalwart of the pre-grunge Pacific Northwest indie scene, sort of Spokane's answer to the Commander Cody Band... They toured regionally, making it down to California a few times, and stayed together until the early '80s. This album includes a bunch of cover songs and possibly(?) a few originals: "Love Letters And Long Distance Calls," "Standing In The Rain."
Merv Landon "The Great Sounds Of Merv Landon" (Blake Records, 197-?)
(Produced by John Cook)
A pleasantly low-rent indie album from Merv Landon, an auto mechanic (and muffler shop owner) from Elmira, New York with a private passion for singing old-school country music. He wasn't a dazzling singer, though his vocals plausibly fall in the range of milquetoasty crooners like Hank Locklin or Hank Snow... Landon traveled down to Nashville to record this album -- sadly, the studio musicians aren't listed, but you can tell they were a talented group, even if their performances lapse into indifference from time to time. The album opens on a slightly Jimmy Buffet-ish note with the song "Caribbean," moving into better-known hits such as "For The Good Times," "Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger," "Me And Bobby McGee" and Marty Robbins' "Devil Woman," and even a few mega-oldies like "Ghost Riders In The Sky" and "Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy." Nothing earthshaking, just a nice, sincere amateur album from an average guy with a love of plain, old country twang.
Jerry Landrey "Hangin On To Memories" (Renee Records, 1984)
(Produced by Bud Comte)
An album of all-original material by Jerry Landrey, a native of Buffalo, Wyoming who recorded this disc at a studio in Nebraska. The liner notes mention Landrey winning some regional music awards in 1984, so maybe this came out in '84-'85... More info is always welcome!
Merv Landon "The Great Sounds Of Merv Landon" (Blake Records) (LP)
Connie Lane "One Nation Under God" (Ripcord, 1976)
Another mystery album from the folks at Ripcord. This seems to have been more of a folk/gospel/Southern gospel album, with several songs written by Connie Lane, including the title track, which was also released as a single. Anyone have more info about this album? Maybe where Ms. Lane was from? Was she the same Connie Lane who recorded a few singles for the Dynamic Sound label? Inquiring minds want to know...
Jerry Max Lane -- see artist discography
Judi Lane "...Sings Hits Made Famous By The Country Queens" (Alshire, 1970) (LP)
Dunno the whole story behind this one... Alshire was a real label, based in Southern California, but amid all the thousands of 101 Strings albums, they also bankrolled a bunch of soundalike albums, including this one, which covers some contemporary hits along with a handful of originals published by the Chesdel Music company, which was connected to the label. This fairly sleepy set made nary a dent in the charts -- I don't think it was meant to -- but there are some amusing moments when the anonymous LA-scene hippie pickers and idle studio musicians backing her cut loose and get a little funky. The opening track is a chaotic run-through of Jeannie C. Riley's "The Back Side Of Dallas," with overpowering electric guitar riffs that echo the song's gogo-delic origins... This formula is repeated on the album's bluesy closing track, "I'm His Woman," one of two originals credited to Judi Lane. The other tracks are generally much more sedate, matching Lane's own, fairly lackluster performance. Of greater interest, perhaps, are the Chesdel tunes, which provide what spark there is on this album. In addition to Lane's other track, the woeful "What Can I Do To Stop Loving You," there's a tune called "Borrowed Time" which was written by Chris Stevenson, who had previously penned both sides of Lane's previous release, a single from 1968 on a tiny Southern California label. Also under the Chesdel banner is "I'll Hate Myself Tomorrow (For Loving You Tonight)" by Walt Rayburn. Another album highlight is Lane's version of the Sharon Higgins song, "Woman Of The World," which had been a hit for Loretta Lynn in '69. Overall, I suppose this is an okay album, though not great -- there are other cheapo LPs of the same era that are more fun.
Red Lane "The World Needs A Melody" (RCA, 1971)
(Produced by Ronny Light)
An interesting -- and unusual -- item from the countrypolitan/sunshine country days. I think this was the only album from Louisiana-born songwriter Red Lane, who was best known for penning Merle Haggard's hit, "My Own Kind of Hat" and "Miss Emily's Picture" for John Conlee. Those hits were a long way off from this early album, though: he had more modest hits in the late '60s with folks like Waylon Jennings and Dottie West. This disc is kind fun, though, and has a distinctive sound, with an almost folk-scene acoustic feel that probably sounded pretty close to the demos he cut for his own songs (although the tracks have various levels of arrangements and added instruments). Lane's delivery sounds like a mix of early Merle Haggard and old Jerry Reed, not too robust or too gimmicky in either direction, but you can hear the similarities. All the songs are Lane's original work, including a collaboration with Wayne Kemp and two songs co-written with Hank Cochran. It's all pretty good, and surprisingly low-key and un-flowery for the era; the only bum note comes on the novelty song, "The Courtroom," which is a creepy, sexist song about a woman who falsely accuses a preacher of raping her, but the case gets thrown out when it is disclosed that the good Reverend "got so shot up back during the war/that he couldn't even take him a wife," and the naughty girl is duly reprimanded. But I guess that's just a product of its time... Not a song to remember, but not one to worry much about, either. Overall, this is a nice record, and a good document of an artist not well-remembered these days. One footnote: Lane toured and recorded with Haggard in the early '80s, and continued to write hits well into the decade.
Sara Lane "Texas Songbird" (Clark Country Records) (LP)
(Produced by Little Richie Johnson)
"A personable blonde country singer" from Whitney, Texas, Sara Lane's main claim to fame was appearing on the "Cowboy Weaver" TV show, based in Las Vegas, and touring with some variety shows. She'd made one single before this album, which was largely a showcase for several songwriters signed to Richie Johnson's publishing house. There are three songs credited to Albert Young Eagle, one to Lori Wild and one by Ray Sanders, as well as "Leaving Would Be So Easy," written by Sara Lane herself. The studio crew are all Nashville pros: Johnny Gimble, Lloyd Green, Dave Kirby, Charlie McCoy... that calibre of player.
Tom Lane "Outhouse Daze" (Cabin Trail, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Rich Lang)
A whole album of potty humor... Twangy tunes about poop and farts and boogers and whatnot, with gems such as "Booger Time Blues," "Dirty Old Man" and "Here's To The Fart." Golly. How could I resist? Well, I guess if you're a fan of Chinga Chavin or Montezuma's Revenge, this might be fun, too.
Lang & Ackroyd Band "Lang & Ackroyd Band" (LAB, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Robert B. Gilgan)
The Canadian duo of Marcy Ackroyd and Jim Lang with an outlawish set that includes Rodney Crowell's "Ain't Livin' Long Like This" and a song that namedrops Waylon & Willie...
The Langner Sisters "It's The Country Life For Me" (Studio 5, 1969)
The yodel-delic Langner Sisters was an all-gal vocal group from Minneapolis, Minnesota who were active in the late-1960s/early '70 polka scene, recording several albums including several with bandleader Eddie Blazonczyk... On this record they concentrated on country stuff, with covers of hits such as "Games People Play," "Tippy Toeing," and "Try a Little Kindness," along with a few yodeling tunes... Plus, on this cover they had on some badass, super-cool matching go-go boot outfits... Now, that's country, 'Sixties style!
The Langner Sisters "On The Air" (Studio 5)
A mix of pop, polkas, country and yodeling tunes... On the country side of things are versions of "Tennessee Yodel" and "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You," though this isn't strictly a country record, by any means. The cover art shows them at the TV studios of KSTP, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which regularly featured polka music throughout the 1960s and '70s.
Sandy Lankford "Sandy's Country" (Total Eclipse, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Callelo)
Wow, this is such a weird record. I mean, musically it's pretty pedestrian -- just how "country" it is, is pretty questionable. It's more like early '70s soft-pop/pop vocals lounge singing, more Vikki Carr than Anne Murray. Lots of cover tunes of mellow Top 40 hits like "Oh Happy Day," "For All We Know" and "Look What They've Done To My Song," delivered in perky yet low-key style, backed by a band that has a teeny bit of twang and a tiny dash of disco, very Vegas-y overall. What's most interesting, though, is the story behind it, and the weird vanity label that it's on, apparently a one-off imprint of RCA Records, which adds its Dynaflex logo and general art design, but not their corporate logo to the project. Hmmm. Then there are the liner notes, which describe Ms. Lankford's background as a Texas pageant winner and her being "discovered" singing at a Ford car dealers convention where they were launching a "Miss Ford Country" sales campaign, which she got hired to be the public face of... (Hey, there's even an old press kit for sale on eBay!) Anywayyyy... Well, I'd say as a country record this ain't no great shakes, but as a cultural artifact, it's rather intriguing. Along with all the pop covers there are a couple of original songs, the perky "A Texas Country Girl," and the very-'70s and semi-disco "You Don't Turn Me On Anymore." For some reason, I keep expecting to see Don Draper listed as an executive producer....
Laramie "Laramie" (Mercury, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Barry Seidel & Chuck Irwin)
This resolutely un-commercial country-rock outing featured piano work by genre-busting '70s auteur Thomas Jefferson Kaye, as well as three songs written by bluegrasser Doyle Lawson: "West Nebraska Woman," "Cryin' After You" and "Amarillo Goodbye." While Doyle Lawson himself wasn't in the band, his brother Dave plays fiddle and guitar, along with Don Mason on mandolin, John Warnock (bass), Bob Smith (banjo and steel guitar) and drummer Luther Rix. This is a weird and wonderful record, both echoing and anticipating the gleeful post-jugband mayhem of the Holy Modal Rounders/Clamtones contingent, warping hippie-rock bang and unruly rural twang into a hyperactive, anarchic, artsy-fartsy musical tapestry. The most accessible (and durable) tracks may be the novelty-oriented covers of hits such as the Shondells' "Crimson And Clover" and the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday," which kicks off with a particularly grating old-timey fiddle riffs -- throughout the record, Dave Lawson refuses to soften or sweeten his tone -- it's the ghost of the craggiest Appalachian elders that spurs him on, adding a wild streak that makes this a rather unique "major label" country-rock record. The other original songs, which include Bob Smith's "Wells Fargo Man" and Bob Shotola's "New Evangelical" take this weirdness a few steps further, beyond the obvious novelty-song satires into more genuine explorations of the musical space being forged by the band. It's too bad the group's mastermind, Kaye, didn't do more with the country-rock genre, but for twangcore archeologists, this disc's a doozy.
Larry & Terry "Sandlewood" (Summit Studios, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Drury & Preston Smith)
An exemplary "private press" album, recorded by two longhaired Colorado dudes, Larry Allen and Terry Craig, who are basically just strumming along and singing some of their favorite songs of the time, along with a couple of originals written by Larry Allen. It's easy to imagine their wives and friends listening to them playing in front of the fireplace and saying, "yeah, you should really make a record! why not?" They're not like rock stars or Nick Drake-y dreamers, just a couple of guys who got good enough to sing "Fire And Rain," "Mrs. Robinson" and "You've Got A Friend" and make their buddies smile while the bottle of wine gets lower and lower. This one's maybe more folk-oriented than most of the stuff here, but it's a nice snapshot of what amateur regular-folk songers sounded like back in the 'Seventies. It's the real deal. Besides, they cover "Mr. Bojangles" and "Country Roads," so it's close enough. They're helped out on a few tunes by banjo picker Tom Drury, who I believe did local/regional bluegrass later on... Not sure if either Larry or Terry did much else, musicwise. But this is kind of a sweet album -- especially the Allen originals, like "Love One Another," which is an uber-gooey hippie-dippy greeting card of a folk song, and their ultra-earnest version of "We Believe In Music" (the Mac Davis hit, made plural) in which they give shout-outs to all the folks who helped them make the record. Adorable.
Mickey Larson "The Mickey Larson Band" (Deezul Records, 1977-?) (LP)
(Produced by Steph Playter, Mike Richson & John Struthers)
Though sometimes incorrectly identified as from Minnesota, this blues-twang bar-band was actually from Eau Claire, Wisconsin (the record label was in Minnesota, but the band were 100% pure cheeseheads...) The record features liner notes from another local musician Will Jennings, also from Eau Claire, who praises Larson as having the new best band in town. Piano player Mickey Larson (1947-2004) was a prolific and prodigious musician, playing in numerous rock, blues and country bands, leading his own group and supporting national acts on tour through the Midwest. As a teen he co-founded the Great Lakes rock band Tounge, which morphed into the Mother Truckers, and gradually became known primarily as a blues musician. An avid motorcyclist, Larson moved to California not long after recording this album, where he worked for Harley-Davidson for several years before returing to Wisconsin. As fas as I know, this was his only album recorded under his own name.
The Last Mile Ramblers "While They Last!" (Blue Canyon, 1974) (LP)
Based in Albuquerque, NM, the Last Mile Ramblers were stalwarts of the Southwestern roots-revival scene; founded in 1970, they recorded two albums in the '70s and stayed together in various formations over the next three decades. Like a lot of these regional roadhouse bands, the Ramblers were both local legends and a waystation for talented musicians: the band's founder Steve Keith eventually got a gig with "Classical Gas" guitarist Mason Williams, and went on to work with a number of country and roots artists... At one point alt-country guitar star Junior Brown was in the band (and is said to be on this album...) This was their first album, and one of the earliest self-released records in the 1970s hippie/desert country scene.
The Last Mile Ramblers "LMR" (Windswept Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Baird Banner & George Bullfrog)
A nice, simple swing/western-swing revival set, with a bit of straight country twang and blues as well. Lead singer George Bourque was probably teasing himself with his stage name of "George Bullfrog," but despite his modest vocal talents, he projects calm self-assurance and an affection for the material that give this album a pleasant warmth. Some nice steel playing as well, by a guy named Jon Potrykus... Also notable is the credit for "Lisa Gilkyson" listed as singing harmony vocals on a couple of tracks... Doubtless this was future Americana-folkie star Eliza Gilkyson, who was a desert denizen at the time. (Anyone know for sure?) Anyway, this is a nice, unassuming album, maybe with more dents and wrinkles than modern-day listeners are used to hearing, but a fine example of disco-era indie-country DIY.
The Last Roundup "The Last Roundup" (Blue Saguaro Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Milton Spalding)
This was quite possibly the literal last-gasp of the 1970s Southwestern country-rock sound, and in all honesty was kind of a terrible record... This band from Tucson, Arizona wore a variety of cowboy hats, bandanas and leather vests, but despite the country iconography, they tilted in a soft-rock direction a bit more than towards twang. Some of the songs are interesting, but their vocals are often iffy and the arrangements are a little cheesy. I dunno. It just didn't do much for me, although they were obviously adorable, earnest locals... The best moments come (briefly) when they let multi-instrumentalist Tim O'Connor off the leash to dash off some fiddle and banjo licks -- he's also one of the band's better lead singers, in contrast to frontmen Earl Jackson and Dennis Theobald, who both have the same odd, plainspoken "gawrsh, heck" Arizona accent as other, earlier bands like Chuck Wagon & The Wheels, but the material here just isn't as strong. Alas.
Last Straw String Band "Last Straw String Band" (Jack Rabbit Records, 1977-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jeff Calloway)
Old-timey music by a nice, twangy longhair trio from Moorpark, California, a suburb located just north of Los Angeles, in the nearby Simi Valley. The Last Straw String Band was formed in 1973 and went through a series of lineups before this particular threesome headed into the studio. Banjo plunker Andy Denes joins multi-instrumentalists Randy Rich and Charlie Seeman on a relaxed, good-natured set of tunes, played in a fairly round-toned style that may or may not be pleasing to old-timey uber-traditionalists... I liked it, though, and found it easily accessible and fun. Dunno if any of these guys went on to work in other old-timey or bluegrass bands, but either way, this album is certainly a nice legacy.
Kenny Laursen "Kenny Laursen" (KayJay, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Kenny Laursen & Earle Weatherwax)
Singer-comedian Kenny Laursen may have originally been from Southern California, where he is said to have played on Cliffie Stone's Home Town Jamboree show, and at various SoCal venues in the 1960s. He spent the '70s working steady gigs in Reno and Las Vegas, as well as in Texas and California, before eventually settling in Vegas in the early '90s to run his own audio-visual production studio. I think this was his first record: on later albums, Laursen subsumed himself to a sort of goofy, county fair/lounge lizard persona, but this early outing was his bid as an early '70s singer-songwriter/sunshine pop auteur. He does a couple of cover tunes -- of Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles" and Jerry Reed's "When You're Hot, You're Hot" -- but the rest of the record is original material, including seven songs written by Laursen, one by Marcia Barnum (a backup singer in his band) and a version of Gene Rockwell Gant's comedic number, "I Got The Funny Feelin' That You Really Wouldn't Care If I Went Home," which is an album highlight. This album wobbles between wannabee '70s pop anthems ("Sunshine") and comedic material reminiscent of the '60s commerical scene, with Laursen seeming aiming at being kind of a low-rent version of Dick Feller. This is less country-oriented than some of his other albums, but shows again the diversity of influences in his act. Underwhelming, perhaps, but still an honest portrait of a way-under-the-radar working musician.
Kenny Laursen "The Wildest Show In Dallas" (KayJay, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Sandell)
A funky, low-rent live set from singer Kenny Laursen, a true veteran performer who cut his teeth singing on late '50s shows like "Home Town Jamboree" and backing Cliffie Stone on the radio... Laursen also carved out a niche as a regional entertainer, as documented on this and other, similar self-released records. These are real, authentic documents of average-sounding locals entertainers -- he does oldies, corny jokes, a big Buddy Holly medley, covers of crap hits like "The Gambler," and hints at more rugged stuff, like Ed Bruce's "Texas When I Die." It's not great, but it's real... Not the kind of record I'd really want to listen to more than once, but if you want to hear what county fair country singers really sounded like in the late '70s, this guy's that guy.
Kenny Laursen "Songs That Were Popular When I Was In High School" (KayJay) (LP)
Kenny Laursen "One Of America's Greatest Entertainers" (KayJay) (LP)
Recorded live at the Reuben E. Lee in Newport Beach California... (The Reuben E. Lee was a faux riverboat restaurant/music venue, built in dock and decommissioned in 2007 after four decades of various businesses coming and going... Guess they had room for Texas country boys at one point, too...)
Kenny Laursen "Live!!!" (KayJay) (LP)
Lavada "Lavada" (ATV-Pye Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Peter K. Siegel)
This is a weird record, one of those "only in the Seventies" kinda things, and definitely not for everyone... Lavada June Roberts was an Okie from Avoka, Oklahoma who headed out West and created her own oddball cabaret act, which she performed first in Hollywood, and later in New York City, where she was working when she cut this album. It's sometimes tagged as a "country" record, and while she carries some of her native twang with her in her voice, and has Nashville studio pro Weldon Myrick playing pedal steel on a few tracks, mostly this is a wild, fairly torturous set, with Lavada swooping and screeching atop her own equally unruly piano playing, singing rambling, half-spoken stream-of-consciousness song-poems, more akin to performance art than country-rock. Some of the more overtly twangy tunes -- "Grin And Bear It," "Neighbors," "Dream On Little Country Girl" -- share some of the same hick-oriented artsy-fartsy feel as Terry Allen and Jo Harvey Allen's work, and may merit recognition from twangfans. (Although to her credit, Lavada staked the territory out first...) Honestly? It's hard to imagine many people who would want to listen to this album for fun, country fans in particular, but as an artifact of nutty 'Seventies experimentalism, it's a doozy.
Doug LaValley & Jean Marie "Wheeling Jamboree" (ARC Music, 1963-?) (LP)
Lavender Country "Lavender Country" (Gay Community Social Services Of Seattle, 1973)
A groundbreaking album on the conceptual level, this may be less satisfying to many country music fans... Four years after the Stonewall riots, Seattle's Patrick Haggerty dreamt up the satirical contours of the world's first openly gay country record and made it a reality, singing tunes like "Back In The Closet Again" to a simplistic roots-music backing -- plinky piano, rough-sawed fiddle, a dash of pedal steel. The instrumental virtuosity isn't there, but the passion and political conviction is there - a gay liberation landmark, and another piece of the '70s countercultural mosaic.
Gene LaVerne "Country Music -- Past And Present" (Natural Sound, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Lou Casella)
A Minnesota native, singer Gene LaVerne (1924-2004) was a vaudeville performer in the late 1930s, working with a partner named Harry Burke with whom he toured througouth the South and Midwest. VaVerne started a radio career in New England, but wound up serving in the military when WWII broke out -- he returned to New England after the war, working in radio again and as part of a country music revue show at the Lone Star Ranch, located in Reeds Ferry, New Hampshire, where he worked for several decades. This early '70s album has a mailing address in Maynard, Mass and is mostly an oldies set -- country and old-timey standards, along with two songs credited to Gene LaVerne, "Love Me," and the title track, "Country Music -- Past And Present."
Gene LaVerne "Something Old, Something New" (Natural Sound) (LP)
(Produced by Lou Casella)
The Lawmen "Live At Taylor's" (Cartay, 1971--?) (LP)
The Lawmen were actual police officers from Denver, Colorado who initally did the singing thing as a side gig in the late 1960s, and eventually were successful enough that they quit their days jobs and starting patrolling the nightclub and country fair circuits instead. Their steadiest work was at a place in Denver called Taylor's Supper Club; they also recorded several singles and LPs for Cartay Records, a label that was run by Taylor's owner, Sammy O'Toole. Years later, one of the band's original members, Bo Cottrell, was honored as one of President Bush's "thousand point of light," for his many years of charitable work. This album was recorded live at Taylor's (hence the title) and features a hefty dose of Cottrell's comedic patter, which includes a gag about telling a (supposed) cop-hater in the audience, "That's alright... Next time you need help, call a hippie!"
The Lawmen "Special Delivery" (Turnkey) (LP)
The Lawmen "Live At Leavenworth" (Viking, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Kennerley & Wade R. Williams)
The Lawmen "Cops And A Cajun" (Cartay-?) (LP)
Rusty Lawrence "Salute To San Antonio" (Walk On Water Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Rusty Lawrence & Brian Carr)
Let's rope ourselves another stray from Texas... I'm not sure what most of these songs have to do with San Antonio -- "San Antonio Rose," sure... but "For The Good Times"? "Green Green Grass Of Home"? "He'll Have To Go"? Well, whatever. Looks like he was having fun. It's an all-local band, with one dude, Paul McLaughlin, filling in on keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, and a couple of other guys playing on a tune or two. Rusty Lawrence apparently had a gig at a place called Carlos Kelly's, a now-defunct steakhouse that was a San Antonio landmark, and he contributes one original song, "No Daddy Lads."
Tony Lawson "Tony Lawson Band" (Page One Studios, 1981) (LP)
George Lawton "Just Plain Folk" (Muscoy Records) (LP)
George Lawton "Long Into The Night" (Muscoy Records, 1980) (LP)
All original material from a folkie songwriter from San Bernadino, California, including "I Like Cowboy Boots" and "Mary Ann's Muscoy Inn," an homage to the bar where Lawton played live. The tiny town of Muscoy -- just north of San Berdoo -- was a hotbed of folkie musicmaking, the same scene that nurtured Jim Ringer and Mary McCaslin... Lawton also worked with country longhair Robb Strandlund, another SoCal favorite.
Jim Lay "Long Walk To Arkansas" (Quest, 197--?) (LP)
Rodney Lay "Silent Partners" (Sun, 1981) (LP)
A modest success as a solo artist, singer Rodney Lay was a teenager rocker in the late '50s and early '60s, going out on the road on package tours with rockabilly stars such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Wanda Jackson, before returning to the Midwest to work as a radio DJ in Coffeyville, Kansas. As with many first-generation rockers, Lay drifted towards country music and scored a few hits as a songwriter, composing tunes that were recorded by the likes of Waylon Jennings, Bob Luman and Hank Thompson in the late-1960s... He was also a protegee of Roy Clark, becoming the bandleader for Clark's touring group (which doubled as Lay's own band, the Wild West, and backed Clark on several albums...) Lay also worked as a cast member of the '80s edition of Hee Haw TV show, again, under Roy Clark's wings.
Rodney Lay "Heartbreak" (MCA/Churchill, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Nereco & Joe Bob Barnhill)
This album includes several songs that grazed the Top 100, such as "Happy Country Birthday Darling," "You Could Have Heard A Heart Break" and his highest-charting single, "I Wish I Had A Job To Shove," which peaked at #45, a plaintive answer to Johnny Paycheck's old '78 hit. Lay was an okay singer, with some performances better than others... Musically, this was a bit of a throwback, a relatively rootsy, honkytonk-ish set of good old weepers and novelty songs that sounded a bit like early Moe Bandy, even as the synthy side of '80s country was beginning to pick up steam. The record includes a duet with Roy Clark on "I'm A Hog For You." Not a great album, but it's certainly worth a spin.
The Lazy B Wranglers "Sing Songs Of The Old West" (Lazy B Ranch) (LP)
The Lazy B Wranglers "...Sing Show Songs" (Lazy B Ranch, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Don Tittle & Dick McGrew)
Not to be confused with the Flying W Wranglers, this (other) Colorado dude-ranch band was from the Lazy B layout, in Estes Park. They issued several souvenir albums of their own, including this mid-'70s offering, which is a pretty solid set of classic Western tunes in the Sons Of The Pioneers style. This edition of the band includes Lynn and Steve Campbell, Jeff Chandler, Jim Dunham, Tom Justin and Everett Stiger. There are a few tracks where they get campy or comedic -- all part of the show -- though on the straight-up performances, they nail it. Not terribly original or innovative, but if you like cowboy music, these guys were good.
The Lazy B Wranglers "Colorado" (Lazy B Ranch, 1978) (LP)
Heartfelt latter-day cowboy vocals... Maybe these guys weren't the greatest group ever, but they were awfully sincere and authentic! This album includes at least two originals, "(I Loved It) When The Cowboys All Would Sing," written and sung by bandmember Jeff Chandler, and "Buckskin And Blanket Days," written by Lynn Campbell.
The Lazy B Wranglers "They All Rode Up The Draw" (Lazy B Ranch) (LP)
Curtis Leach "Indescribable" (Longhorn Records, 1964) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Gray)
It really looked like things were going Curtis Leach's way in the early 'Sixties... He wasn't the strongest singer -- he had one of those plaintive, plainspoken voices that were more common in the hillbilly era -- but as a songwriter he was making some traction with stars like Bill Anderson covering his material, and the folks at Longhorn Records backed him for a full-length LP. Sadly, the Oklahoma songwriter was stabbed in the leg during a home invasion the following year, and died while still in his thirties. This proved to be his only album, but it's a fine example of unreconstructed red dirt twang.
Don LeBeaux "A Part Of Me" (Comstock Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Patty Parker, John Williamson & Tom Laney)
This one's a little bit of a mystery disc: the Comstock label (and presumably Mr. LeBeaux?) was from Shawnee, Kansas, on the outskirts of Kansas City. However, he went to Nashville to record this album, with studio pros like Tony Migliore on piano, and both Hal Rugg and Sonny Garrish playing steel guitar. But other than that, the guy is a complete mystery. Anyone out there have any clues?
Lenny LeBlanc "Hound Dog Man" (Atlantic/Big Tree, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Pete Carr)
A soft-rock album with deep Muscle Shoals roots... Songwriter Lenny LeBlanc was in a highschool band with guitarist Pete Carr, who later recruited him to join the Alabama roots-soul scene, where he sang backup for a number of star artists before breaking out as a solo performer with this debut disc. The album opens with "Desert Cowboy," a nice, breezy country-rock song in the Firefall/Michael Martin Murphey style. From there, though, he dives straight into the '70s soft-rock sound, with only traces of twang here and there. Fans of '70s AOR will find this a rewarding record -- twangfans maybe a little less so -- with a rich mix of largely original material. Notable is LeBlanc's version of "Sharing The Night Together," which became a Top Ten hit for Dr. Hook two years later... I've seen soul singer Arthur Alexander credited as the first person to record this song (also in '76...) but I wonder if LeBlanc didn't actually record it first: "Sharing The Night" composer Eddie Struzick co-wrote a couple of other songs with LeBlanc on this album, and sings harmony throughout. Anyway, this is an earlier version than the one you know, and has a nice mellow feel. The title track was an homage to Elvis-era oldies rock; oddly enough, Atlantic changed the album name to Lenny LeBlanc, presumably to downplay the rural-sounding original title, and sell LeBlanc as more of a pop artist. Which makes sense: there's some twang on here, but not a lot.
LeBlanc & Carr "Midnight Light" (Atlantic/Big Tree, 1978) (LP)
Bigger pop success was found with this duo album, where the song "Falling" cracked into the Top 15, a significant soft-pop single of the disco era that stands up there with harmony-laden hits from folks like the Little River Band, et. al. Can you say "guilty pleasure"? Sure you can. Anyway, after surviving the '70s, LeBlanc got religion and started a new career as a contemporary Christian artist, though he'd had decent success on the Pop charts before that change...
The Billy Ledbetter Show "Just Us" (1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Richard Pond)
This was a Vegas lounge band, though they definitely had a lot of country in their act. Their repertoire included oldies like "Choo Choo Ch-Boogie," "Heartaches By The Number" and the Mills Brothers chestnut, "Till Then," as well as newer tunes from the '70s, like Dr. Hook's "Couldn't You Try" and the Statler Brothers' "I'll Go To My Grave Loving You." The latest songs on the album are the Oak Ridge Boys hit, "Come On In" and "New Orleans Lady" by Le Roux, which both came out in 1978, most likely dating this album to around 1979... though that's really just an educated guess. Oh, plus the hair.
Albert Lee "Hiding" (A&M, 1979)
This British guitar whiz kid made his mark in the late 1970s replacing James Burton as lead guitarist in the Emmylou Harris band. A lot of his work in the Hot Band was a straight copy of Burton's style, but he also had a flashy note-clustering technique which was distinctively his own. This album, though it hasn't aged well, is still one of my favorites from the era -- all the key players from the Emmylou/Happy Sack scene are on here, and Brian Ahearn's elaborate, multitracked production carries over from her albums. In retrospect, it's overly florid and a bit goofy, but Lee recognized his own silliness, and the hyperactive twang of "Country Boy," for example, has more than just a little nudge-nudge, wink-wink to it. Really fun if you can hang with the slick production.
Betty Lee & The Country Squires "Moods Of The Country Squires And Betty Lee" (Moon Records) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Richison)
There sure have been a lot of bands called the Country Squires... These one was from Minneapolis, Minnesota, although they recorded in Nashville with session player Al Udeen on steel guitar. Bandleader Bob Richison wrote and arranged all their material, also playing keyboards and cordovox, while lead singer Betty Lee provided a little oomph in the front line... This was a curious group, something of a throwback to the eclectic world of 1940s radio and club acts -- Ms. Lee's vocals had a smooth, sultry ballads style reminiscent of old-school pop vocalists like Peggy Lee, while the guys generally handled more comedic material, such as the topical "Panty Hose," in which drummer Pudge Likes laments the popularity of newfangled pantyhose -- he prefers to ogle women wearing nylons or socks -- or "Burnett County Fair," where they make fun of their own "fame" and the kind of gigs that local bands headline, and "Put It Where The Sun Don't Shine." which is kind of self-explanatory. There are also a couple of gospel songs, including "Friendship" and "Brotherhood," which has an uber-sincere vibe that tilts it into the unintentionally hilarious. All in all, a fun country record, and unlike most that you'll hear.
Birdie Lee & Al 'Porky' Witherow "Duo Dynamite" (Artic Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Loryn Atwell)
Originally from West Virginia, "Miss Birdie Lee" was living in upstate New York when she joined singer Al Witherow's group, the Country Mystery, learning to play bass in order to fill an open slot in the band. On this album they mostly sang duets in a kind of old-school style reminiscent of country duos like Carl Butler & Pearl or the Mosbys, and less like the slicker-sounding stars of the day, such as Conway and Loretta. The band included Lee's husband Dallas Eugene on drums, bassist Roger Ray, fiddler June Eikard ("Canada's Lady Of The Fiddle"!), pianist Wayne Sexton, Dee Woodmore on lead guitar and Buddy Gregory playing pedal steel. The musical backing is also a little rough around the edges, in a way that I find appealing -- there was genuine twang in here, as well as a degree of amateurism that's kind of appealing, particuarly given the direction country was headed in at the time... Definitely worth a spin!
Birdie Lee "Comin' Atcha" (Artic, 1974) (LP)
On her first solo album, Ms. Lee mostly sang cover songs, but she had a nice rural sound, a little rough around the edges in a way that was refreshing for the countrypolitan era... She's got kind of an early-Loretta/Brenda Lee vibe and, despite obvious debts to numerous bigger stars, she has her own distinctive sound. As on the other album recorded around the same time, there's a nice twangy feel to these tracks... If you'd like to hear alternate versions of big hits by '70s stars such as Barbara Mandrell, Tammy Wynette and Barbara Fairchild, you might get a kick out of this disc.
Bobbie Lee & Nashville South "Live At Country Music, USA" (LaMancha Records) (LP)
(Produced by Norm Titcomb)
Gosh, I didn't know Fort Lauderdale was considered "Nashville South..." And... isn't Nashville in the South to begin with? I'm confused here. Anyway, loveable locals from Florida... and another mystery band for us to track down info on!
Miss Bobbie Lee & The Rhythm Boys "Countrie Gold" (Carlson International, 1962) (LP)
I have absolutely no idea why they insisted on spelling it "countrie," but this obscuro private pressing LP certainly has its charms. Wendy Maye Hummel (aka Bobbie Lee) was a middle-aged gal from rural New York state who was born in West Stockton, and recorded this album in Kingston, NY. According to the liner notes, she was apparently encouraged to record this album by her husband and daughter and "the many thousands of fans" who made up her "sellout audiences." Lee sings like Kitty Wells -- with the same rural snap, although actually not as grating as Wells -- and though both she and the modest backing band have a fairly low energy level, it's real country music, and nice to hear a true amateur singing her heart out. The songs are probably all cover tunes, leaning heavily on hits by Kitty Wells, Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, although the last track, "I'm Walking In," might have been an original. There are no credits on the album for composers, backing musicians, or even the release date... I'm guessing the early 1960s, though a 1976 newspaper article (that repeats some the liner notes verbatim) says it was "brand new" in '76, but also mentions a promo record from 1962. I'm betting it really came out in '62 but was being passed off as new a decade later. Anyway, let's hear it for New York... Ms. Lee, who in the 'Seventies ran a nursing home for severely disabled adults, clearly wasn't really a player in the industry, but she did record a charming souvenir album, and probably got a lot of joy out of singing.
Chubby Lee "...And Wild Country" (Wild Country Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Chubby Lee)
Dottie Lee & The Nite Lites "...Present Roy Country" (Stacka Records, 1972-?) (LP)
A live show recorded at Roy Rodeo Hall, in Roy, Washington, featuring singer Dottie Lee and her band, which included her husband, steel guitar player Larry DeRocher, and their son Dennis DeRocher, who played bass. It's an honest portrait of a working country band -- they weren't awesome or super-original, but they were honest and sincere. She had kind of a homespun, old-school Kitty Wells-ish sound, while the pedal steel work is actually quite nice, particularly on his version of Lloyd Green's showcase instrumental, "Greenblue." No year was given in the liner notes, but judging from the cover songs -- stuff like "Joy To The World," "Kiss An Angel Good Morning" and "Help Me Make It Through The Night" -- it was clearly an early '70s outing, probably from 1972 or '73 at the latest.
Garry Lee & Showdown "Wanted: Loaded, Loose And Rowdy" (Damon, 1981) (LP)
I haven't heard this version, but you can also hear the original on the first Showdown album, Welcome To The Rodeo.
Garry Lee & Showdown "Wanted: Loaded, Loose And Rowdy" (Damon, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Garry McDonall & Garry Lee)
Originally a covers band from Canada, Showdown scored a big hit with "The Rodeo Song," a cuss-filled novelty song that was banned from airplay, but made plenty of waves and was recorded several times, by Showdown and numerous other artists... Gaye Delorme's hilariously profane novelty number is written from the perspective of a very pissed off, road-ragey rural driver, and is sort of an obscene take-off on the Hank Snow style of country rapping. When "The Rodeo Song" became an underground classic, the runaway success of the single apparently allowed the dudes in Showdown to go back into the studio and beef up their sound, taking on a more electrified (and mildly disco-y) tone... They also billed singer Garry Lee as the group's star performer. Although they sound more professional and musically accomplished than on their first album, they also sound less rootsy and a lot less fun. They also decided to make crudeness their "thing," giving this album full of songs about one-night stands, girls losing their virginity and saying "no" when they really mean yes, along with plenty of thinly-veiled sexual metaphors, and an unfortunate Alvin And The Chipmunks-style remake of "The Rodeo Song" that features the squeaky-voiced "Canadian Beavers" singing a version that's way less fun that the original. Oh, well. I suppose this was funny at the time, but it doesn't hold up very well. Worth noting: some of the electric guitar twang-banging is courtesy of Redd Volkaert, who had recently moved to Alberta from British Columbia, and would join Merle Haggard's band nearly two decades later. As far as I can tell, this must have been one of his first recorded sessions, in case anyone out there is keeping track...
Garry Lee & Showdown "The Rodeo Song: The Original Hit" (Damon, 1994)
Having hit a goldmine with "The Rodeo Song," Showdown doubled down, re-recorded the single and a bunch of others, including the equally bleepable "Awwwwww," and few other rough and risque country novelty numbers. Personally, I find the remakes a little too slick, but maybe subtlety isn't really the point here. Anyhoo, if you want to raise a few eyebrows, here are a bunch of twangtunes with lots of naughty words in them.
Georgie Lee "Georgie Lee Sings" (Canasee Records) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Wood & Bernie Vaughn)
A businessman from the Washington, DC area, Georgie Lee went to Nashville to cut this album of pop oldies and country covers with a studio band that included Sonny Garrish on steel guitar and Dave Mathes on rhythm guitar. A few tunes might have been originals, such as "Tomorrow Night" or "All Night Worker," but mostly it's standards such as "Memphis," "Crazy" and "My Elusive Dreams." The album art is the same recycled "stage lights" graphics as on numerous LPs on the Cathay label, though the liner notes credit this as being on a Nashville label.
Jackie Lee Four "The Death Of Tanker 585" (Vintage Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Art Snider) (?)
This is an odd album, at least in terms of its provenance, more than its content.... Originally released in Canada, this "custom" album may have been part of a tax scam, particularly since it was re-released in the US a couple of years later under a different name (by "The Dave Burns Four") on a different label. The original version includes two tracks that weren't included on the reissue, "Wipeout" and "The Ice Man," though the real fire is on novelty numbers 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. Not a lot of info out there about this one, though: anybody have insights about these sessions and who was really on them?
James Lee "Country Goes To Town" (Mid-Columbia Records, 1976) (LP)
Salem, Oregon country picker James Lee worked lounges in Canada and the pacific Northwest though he'd only been playing professionally for a couple of years when he cut this album at the Ripcord Studios in Vancouver, WA. It's about half cover songs, ranging from a Hank Williams oldie to pop-soul standards such as "Spanish Harlem." Lee is credited with writing one song, "Lovin' Life And Livin' Free," while there are also three originals by Andre Martel, who was signed to the J. J. Gold publishing company. (Not sure if that's the same J. J. Gold as the California country singer who recorded his own album a few years later...)
Jeanette Lee "I Can't See You Through My Tears" (Wild Rose Recorders, 1977--?) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Myers, Laurence Pugh & Robert R. Ward)
I could not for the life of me track down any info on when this album was made or about Jeanette Lee's career... Alas! A rootsy singer well-versed in country tradition, Ms. Lee was a very appealing neotrad artist, years ahead of her time... She sounds a bit like Iris Dement, or various modern-day twang-gals, with an imperfect voice but plenty of heart... She has a very modern vibe, and it's easy to imagine her flourishing during the Americana boom of the 1990s, decades after this disc came out. Recording her album in Bonnyville, Alberta Canada, Lee covers some first-rate material from Nashville, including two Dolly Parton songs ("Coat Of Many Colors," "Jolene") as well as Bill Anderson's "Tiny Blue Transistor Radio" and "I'll Get Over You," which was a mega-hit for Crystal Gayle in 1976. She also covers "Testing 1-2-3," an early '70s chart-topper for fellow Canadian Joyce Seamone. Better still, the 20-year old Lee adds four songs of her own to the country canon, "I Don't Believe My Heart Could Stand Another You," "I'll Say Goodbye To You Today," "This Time," and the title track, "I Can't See You Through My Tears." Nice stuff... pleasantly twangy, with sparse arrangements but plenty of country soul.
The Melvin Lee Band "A Cowboy's Dream" (1983) (LP)
(Produced by Melvin Lee, Albert Lyon & Mark Lyon)
I'm not 100% sure, but I think this guy was from Arcata, California, or thereabouts... The album was recorded down in Huntington Beach, but Melvin Lee is pictured up at the Lazy L Ranch, up in the hills towards the Mad River. Also, one of the songs he sings is called "Humboldt County Woman," so, you know... I made an educated guess. The musicians include Northern California's Greg Liesz on pedal steel, as well as Dale Roberts on some tunes. Anyone with info about this band? I'm all ears!
Millie Lee & The Leeways "The Bottle And The Microphone" (Applause, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Jeff Galey)
An album by a middle-aged, regular-folks gal from central Illinois... Millie Lee started her career as a child performer, singing on the Cumberland Country Barn Dance, though she'd put music on the back burner a few times to take care of family matters. Her son, Loren Lindsay, plays drums and co-wrote the title track with his brother Ted. Millie Lee wrote one song as well, "Burning Teardrops," which starts Side Two, while the other songs are mostly covers. I'm guessing at the label -- the back cover says this was recorded at the Applause studios in Mattoon, IL, but there's not much other info. She also seems to have recorded a few singles in the 1960s (or '70s?) for various indie labels. Also in the band are lead guitar Gus Pedido, steel player Jim Curry, and Don Pierce on bass.
Overton Lee "I'll Always Remember Your Name" (Overton Lee Records, 1982--?)
A mega-indie album by a guy from Southern California... I couldn't find the exact date this album came out on, but Overton Lee is mentioned in a couple of issues of Billboard in 1982, as having started the "Boggy Mountain Depot" and/or "OL Records" labels in Santa Fe Springs, CA. He produced and released an album by Gene Davis at that time, and I'm guessing this one came out in '82 as well.
Rebel Lee "Love Games" (Deucalion Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Glenn Rieuf & Chip Young)
Robert Lee "Escapade" (Home Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Ben Keith & Robert Lee)
Dunno what the story was on this country-rocker from Georgia, but he sure had some high-powered friends... Roots music superpicker Ben Keith produced the album and co-wrote some of the songs, backed by a roster of studio musicians that included Jody Payne and Mickey Raphael from Willie Nelson's band, Muscle Shoals keyboardist Spooner Oldham, Flying Burrito brother Chris Ethridge on bass, Mylon LeFevre, and even bluesman Paul Butterfield (credited on "telephone"), to name a few. Lee mixes rock'n'twang with a folkie sensibility, placing Woody Guthrie's "Deportee" alongside his own "Burrows And Burlap Sacks" (an homage to Latin American drug smugglers... I think he meant "burros") This album was partly recorded in Georgia, and partly at the Bearsville studios in upstate New York, but certainly wherever he was hanging his hat, this guy seems to have been at the center of roots-music Americana, circa '79.
Scooter Lee "A Louisiana Lady" (1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Porter Wagoner)
Born in New Orleans, Scooter Lee (nee Nancy Lee Gilhaus) was originally a teenage child star, singing twangy R&B for producer Allan Toussaint until she shifted towards straight country and country-pop. After decades plugging away on the road -- including hundreds of county fair shows, where she was sponsored by Reynolds Tobacco -- Lee landed a contract with Sony Records. She became a steady figure in the early 1990's line-dance scene and continued to perform well into the 2010's, also filming numerous instructional line-dancing videos. This was apparently her first album, recorded with an all-star, usual-suspects Nashville crew, folks like Weldon Myrick and Hargus Robbins. Notably, it includes original material such as Lee's own "10,000 Miles" a song about her older brother who was stationed in Vietnam when she was a kid... Apparently her father also died there, in 1970. And, already, there's a strong dancey streak in her work, with a few tracks that had a disco feel, presaging her career as a line-dance popularizer and dancing instructor.
Smokey Lee & The Prison Band "Made Parole, Will Travel!" (I & E, 1979)
According to the liner notes, Smokey Lee was a Korean War veteran who had trouble adjusting to civilian life, and ran afoul of the law so many times that he eventually wound up in McAlester, Oklahoma's "Big Mac" state penitentiary from 1968-1979. While at Big Mac, he led the Outlaws band, and even recorded an album with them while behind bars. After he made parole, he released another album, though apparently he recorded it with some other ex-cons -- the repertoire covers a lot of prison-related country and folk standards -- "I Fought The Law," "I Got Stripes," "Folsom Prison Blues," etc. Not sure how things went for Lee after this...
Tommy Lee "...Sings The Country Greats" (Starr Records, 1969) (LP)
Born in Missouri back in 1938, guitarist Tommy Lee moved around a lot as a kid, living throughout the South as his parents moved from town to town. As soon as he graduated high school, Lee set out on the road, touring with various bands, although he eventually settled down in New Jersey in 1962, finding work for various musical gear and guitar manufacturers, while playing gigs regionally. On this album, he covers a bunch of '60s-era country hits, stuff like "Break My Mind," "Detroit City," "Memphis," "Under Your Spell Again," and a few croonier tunes from the likes of Jack Greene and Jim Reeves. The jacket has a return address in Cedar Grove, NJ, and Tommy Lee gets a shout-out from local deejay Lee Arnold, the music director for country station WJRZ, 970-AM in Newark, who contributed the liner notes.
Toni Lee "A Little Bit O' Country" (Corey Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Dallas Corey)
This was the first (and possibly only?) LP released on the short-lived label started by Nashville music publisher/songwriter Dallas Corey, who was best known for his patriotic album, The History Of The American Revolution, which he recorded for Chart Records before deciding to set out on his own entrepreneurial career. I think it's safe to assume this record was primarily meant to function as a songwriter's demo album, and not a chartbuster. Toni Lee, who came from Phoenix, Arizona, was a syrupy, tempo-challenged singer who seems to have had a hard time locating a backbeat -- she's okay if you're into the slow, old-school "Nashville Sound" ballad style, but this was definitely pretty out of place in the perky early '70s country scene. The unidentified backup musicians are mostly just going through the motions, which is fine, since I think the emphasis is really on the songs, and trying to get them recorded by an established artist. Dallas Corey wrote two of the tunes -- "The Day That Our Love Came Back Home Again" and "Dry The Tears From Mommy's Eyes" (a divorce ballad written from the point of view of mother asking her kid to comfort her, probably the album highlight...) There's one song by Bill Irwin, "The Top Of The World, along with material from Billy C. Cole, James Joiner, Jayce McDuffey and Dub Walker. None of it's very electrifying, though. Dub Walker's "Wasting Your Time" is also a standout track, although the performance is a bit sluggish.
Barbara E. Leigh "...And The Everlovin's" (Everlov'in Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Hargus 'Pigg' Robbins)
This one's kind of all over the map, combining disco, gospel, Christmas music and Nashville-y twang, with musicians including Lloyd Green on pedal steel, Pete Wade and Harold Bradley on guitar, Charlie McCoy playing trumpet(!) and the Four Guys vocal group singing backup. The super-earnest liner notes detail Leigh's childhood in Carroll, County, Tennessee, her efforts singing at county fairs throughout the South and the Midwest and even her enrollment at a beauty college in Memphis. There are several original songs, including some written by George Wells, one called "My Love Likes Simple Things" by Billy Gibbs (in both "disco" and "ballad" versions) and two songs credited to Ms. Leigh: "I'll Never Get Over Lovin' You" and the scandalously-titled "I Want To Touch You (And Feel You Touching Me)." I couldn't find out when this album came out, but I'm guessing early 1980s, possibly late '70s.
Doc Leigh "On Call" (Buzzard, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Bernie Vaughn)
A Lousiana local who made the trek to Nashville, songwriter Leigh Dillard (aka Doc Leigh) brought ten original tunes to the Koala Records studios and recorded this album, a fine example of an indiebilly artist with commercial dreams... The main vibe is straight-up melodic honkytonk, sort of in a Moe Bandy-ish mode -- generally, these are strong, uptempo drinkin'-cheatin'-cryin' songs, although there are dips into less effective material. Leigh's vocals are pretty good, although sometimes he sounds a bit tentative (which may have been due to nerves?) The Nashville studio crew, led by steel player Sonny Garrish and lead guitarist Fred Newell, provide strong, solid accompaniment, framing Leigh in a traditionally-oriented but still contemporary country sound. Some of the songs were plausibly commercially viable for the times, although on Side Two he goes a little far afield, slowing down to a crawl on the ambitious, folk-tinged "Lonely Room," a maudlin weeper about a divorced dad trying to figure out how to explain sticky grown-up troubles to his three-year old kid. But barroom stompers like "Don't Play The Last Song" and "North Louisiana Man" give this a nice, simple twangy vibe. Definitely worth a spin.
The Leightons "We Got Love" (Cutlass Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Carr)
The husband-wife duo of John and Sharon Leighton started out singing folk music in the early '60s, but gradually moved towards country and formed a band called the Country Sounds. They worked for a while in Hawaii, toured abroad and came back to the mainland in the mid-'60s. In the early '70s John Leighton was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease and the couple traveled to Nashville to record this album as a testment to the duo's brief career. There's only one track on here written by the Leightons, "When It's Over," which kicks the album off and I believe all the rest are cover songs. But among those covers are a few eye-catchers, stuff like the old Webb Pierce hit, "There Stands The Glass" and Hank Penny's "Blood Shot Eyes," old-fashioned drinking songs that point to a robustly retro streak that was pleasantly out of step with the countrypolitan vibe of early '70s Nashville. After John Leighton passed away in 1974, Sharon Leighton formed a new band called Country Sunshine, and cut a solo album in 1975. Later in the decade she got religion and thereafter devoted herself exclusively to gospel music. She has recorded and released several religiously-themed records over the years, but for the most part retired from the music business.
Sharon Leighton "With Love" (Jan Mar Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Gordon Calcote)
When this solo set was recorded, Sharon Leighton was living in Santa Fe Springs, California and was part of the local Southern California country scene -- old-timer Cliffie Stone contributes liner notes, and country deejay/sometimes singer Gordon Calcote produced the sessions.
Jim & Bobbi LeMay "Sing Country Music" (1973) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Bob Barnhill)
The husband-wife duo of Jim and Bobbi LeMay were amateurs from Colorado Springs, Colorado who took part in a 1972 talent search sponsored by radio station KPIK. They didn't win, but they did catch the ear of producer Joe Bob Barnhill, who was one of the contest judges. Barnhill took the couple under his wing and cut this session with them in Los Angeles, adding two of his own songs to what is otherwise an all-original set, showcasing nine songs written by the LeMays. (And as far as I can tell, Barnhill himself never recorded either of the songs, "Gentle Ben" and "Pretty Please," so they may be unique to this album...) No info on the backing band, though, alas.
Bill Lendrum "Try A Little Kindness" (Crown Records, 1969) (LP)
Assuming it's all the same guy, Bill Lendrum seems to have moved around a lot during his career... Known as "Pineapple Bill" Lendrum, he lived in Hawaii and sang hapa haole-style island-themed novelty songs, as well as country stuff. I'm not sure where he was living when he cut this album, but in the early '70s he was considered a "local legend" in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he recorded for the Goldust label, and had some of his music recorded by other local artists. In 1975 he recorded a second album for the Oklahoma City-based Homa label and later, in the late 1980s, Lendrum was living in Griffin, Indiana but still playing music, and even won a national talent contest sponsored by the True Value hardware company. This album seems to have been packed with original material.
The Levee Singers "Take Me Home" (Levee Records, 1966-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Sullivan)
Originally known as "The Banjo Band From The Levee," this group featured Dallas, Texas old-timer Smokey Montgomery and, for much of the 1960s, rockabilly firebrand Ronnie Dawson, who gave the songs quite a kick. The band started out playing banjos-and-brass dixieland jazz, with Ed Bernet as the leader... In the early '60s Bernet decided it would be easier to run his own bar than to keep hustling for bookings, and opened the Levee nightclub in 1961. Smokey Montgomery, who was also in the fabled western swing band, the Light Crust Doughboys, joined early on, as did Dawson and the group quickly evolved into volatile foursome, creating a cheerful mashup of dixieland, folk revival and good old Texas twang. They appeared on numerous national TV shows and held down a regular gig at the Levee, recording three albums with Dawson in the lineup. The band's lineup changed over the years, with Ed Bernet giving up the club in the early '70s, but keeping one version or another of the Levee Singers going throughout the decades.
The Levee Singers "Down At The Levee" (Levee Records) (LP)
Another fun live set giving a good idea of what their good-natured rockabilly hooteneanny vibe was like... This is still the classic lineup featuring Smokey Montgomery and Ronnie Dawson, mixing country anthems such as "Sixpack To Go" with folk chestnuts and trad-jazz oldies... Dawson manages to impishly assert a hint of his wilder rock roots, building a fascinating combination of styles... (By the way, the first three Levee Singers albums were reissued digitally on a single CD called The Levee Singers -- The Early Years, which is available through Ed Bernet's website.)
The Levee Singers "The Levee Singers" (Levee Records, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Dennis)
This post-Dawson lineup includes Ed Bernet, Bob Christopher, Smokey Montgomery and Ralph Sanford... The material tilts further away from country twang and more towards dixieland and singalong hootenanny folk...
The (New) Levee Singers "Down At The Levee" (Levee Records) (LP)
Mark LeVine "Pilgrim's Progress" (Hogfat Records, 1968) (CD)
(Produced by Michael Deasy)
Another ultra-obscuro "folk freak" offering from the hills of Hollywood, made during the acid-laced tail end of the 'Sixties. Songwriter Mark Levine was hanging out with some cool cats at the time, including a bunch of West Coast show biz heavyweights. Studio pros Mike Deasy, Larry Knechtel and Joe Osborn -- all members of the fabled, A-list "Wrecking Crew" -- anchor these loose-limbed psychefolkedlic sessions, along with drummer Toxey French and (drumroll please...) roots music superpicker Ry Cooder, who was just finding his legs in the LA music scene, and a couple of years away from busting out as a solo artist. The liner notes are a textbook case for spaced-out druggie rambling, and the music also reflects the, ahem, freewheeling vibe of the times... This album has been reissued on CD, but remains pretty obscure. (Quick footnote: around the same time this album was made, French and Osborn also backed The Dillards on their pioneering country-rock album, Wheatstraw Suite.)
Levitt & McClure "Living In The Country" (Warner Brothers, 1969/70)(?)
(Produced by Ron Elliott)
Dan Levitt and Marc McClure were a bluegrassy duo from Encino, California who got on the radar of producer Ron Elliott, who was in the thick of the LA music scene. This album, which was recorded in August, 1969, is mostly original material, including a few songs written or co-written by producer Ron Elliott, as well as some covers of folkie stuff from Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. Marc McClure also recorded a solo album for Capitol a few years later.
Penny Lew "Country With A Flair" (Penny Lew Records, 1982) (LP)
A female country artist from Washington state... She mostly sings covers of Hank and Lefty classics, along with several originals: "Have A Ball," "Washington Is Home Sweet Home To Me" and "Harry (Of Mount St. Helens)." She's accompanied by Ron Stevens on guitar and pedal steel.
Bob Lewellyn & Crystal River "Big Train" (Iron Horse Records, 198--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Shuler)
This (undated) early '80s album was recorded in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee... I'm not sure if Bob Lewellyn was connected to any of the "opry"-style shows based in that area, although he did work as a country radio DJ in nearby Knoxville. The Crystal River trio featured singers Monie Urban, Marvin Goddard and Bob Lewellyn singing in three-part harmony, with a number of lesser-known backing musicians, including producer Bob Shuler, who plays banjo, fiddle and steel guitar. The title track is a John Fogarty song, though the album is packed with originals by Bob Lewellyn, as well as several that have an inspirational edge. Old-timer Archie Campbell seems to have been a patron, contributing liner notes and pictured on the back cover with the band.
Lewis And Clark "Cross Country" (Ambassador Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Rivers, Rue Barclay & Jerry Wood)
That would be singers Joy Lewis and Dick Clark, who hailed from New Orleans and Denver, respectively, and made their way out west to play shows in LA and Las Vegas... Clark plays piano on these sessions, with backing by Jack Rivers on guitar, Rue Barclay on bass and Clyde Hays on steel... Half the songs are originals written by either Clark or Lewis, along with country classics from folks like Wynn Stewart, Merle Travis and Hank Williams.
Clay Lewis "Tall Shadows" (American Heritage Music Corporation) (LP)
Mr. Lewis was a California native, living in Montana. His wife, Margie, plays piano on the album, and wrote the liner notes... They play mainly cover songs, mostly western/cowboy songs and oldies and old-timey music. Very mom-and-pop... literally!
George Lewis "Ode To Silver City" (LSI Sound Studios) (LP)
A folkie concept album, sung in praise of Silver City, New Mexico... With backing by the so-called Silver City Symphony and the Silver City Saloon Singers. I think the "saloon" part of that phrase is the key.
Henry Lewis "Inside Of Your Love" (Burgundy Records) (LP)
Apparently a Texan, Mr. Lewis recorded this one in Nashville, with Kenny Malone, the Jordanaires and other studio pros sitting in on the session... All the songs were written by Lewis, with one cowritten along with Julian Jones.
Henry Lewis "Almost Not In Love With You" (Burgundy Records, 1985) (LP)
An indie album on a label from Midland, Texas... Features the song, "Jalapeno Lips" and arrangements by Bill Justis...
Liberty "Liberty" (Windsong, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Kyle O'Connor, John Denver & Milt Okun)
Liberty & Friends "Black, Gold & Crude" (JW Productions, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Collins)
This female-led Oklahoma band played all-original material written by songwriters Garneta Johnston and Ann Wilson, with Chuck Johnson rounding things out. All three seemed to work in the oil industry, and recorded this album in Texas.
Malinda Liberty "Malinda Liberty" (River Records, 1987) (LP)
Yeah, I never heard of her either... This indie album out of Maine looks like it's pretty Nashville-hopeful, in a more modern, '80s kind of way... If I get a chance to check it out, I'll let you know!
Sid Linard "Juke Box Angel" (Ovation, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Henry Strzelecki)
This is a cool, twangy honkytonk-edged country set, with plenty of cheatin' songs, boozing tunes, and their natural compliment, divorce songs. Like Moe Bandy around the same time, Birmingham's Sid Linard was kind of an unexpected throwback to a grittier sound than what was generally in the air in the mid-'70s and he threw himself into hard country tune like "Juke Box Angel" and the anti-alimony anthem, "I'm Not Gonna Let You Sock It To Me (Lying Down)," as well as the good-timing "The Undertaker's Gonna Have A Hard Time (Wiping The Smile Off Of My Face)," which Jerry Lee Lewis would have had a field day with as well. All the songs are originals by Linnard, with one song about hardcore alcoholism, "A Lord Calvert's Kind Of Day," resurfacing on the 2012 sitcom, "Parenthood." This album failed to make even a tiny dent in the country charts, and Linard faded from sight, although he did pen a 1979 political novelty song, Roger Hallmark's 1979 single, "A Message To Khomeini." Other than that, I wasn't able to track down much info about this guy. He did make one great record, though, and I'm listening to it right now. If you like Jerry Reed or Moe & Joe, you might want to check this guy out.
Johnny Lincoln "Sings... Old Favorites" (Admiral Records, 197--?) (LP)
An album of classic country covers, sung by a guy from Rochester, Minnesota... It's mostly older stuff, including "Born To Lose," "Cold, Cold Heart," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Oh, Lonesome Me," along with a Buck Owens tune, and yet another version of "Rocky Top." The material's mostly from the '50s and '60s, but definitely recorded sometime in the shaggy 'Seventies.
Candy Lindell "Coast Of California" (London Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Marty Weitzler)
A later recording by veteran hillbilly singer Candy Lindell, the wife of Kansas native Ernie Lindell, a guitar picker who made his name as the bandleader of the WGY-AM Radio Ranch Gang in upstate New York, during the early 1950s. The Lindells met and married around 1950, and were well-known members of the East Coast/New England country scene for many years to come, hosting various radio and TV programs. This album includes both secular and gospel material, with backing musicians such as Pete Drake, and vocals by the Nashville Sound (ex-Anita Kerr Singers) and the Harden Trio.
George Lindsey "Goober Sings!" (Capitol Records, 1968-?) (LP)
The first album by TV actor George Lindsey (1928-2012), best known for his role as "Goober Pyle," one of the down-to-earth locals on The Andy Griffith Show and on its successor, Mayberry RFD. Like his TV "cousin," Jim Nabors, Lindsey was an Alabama native with a knack for portraying slack-jawed yokels, and he extended that hick persona to his personality-album comedy records, and later in a long stint with on Hee-Haw. This album tilts towards comedy, with songs like "I Ain't Good Looking (But I'm Mighty Sweet)" and "I'll Live Here Till I Die," as well as "Write Me R.F.D.," which was probably tied to the new TV show.
George Lindsey "96 Miles To Bakersfield" (Capitol Records, 1969-?) (LP)
(Produced by Kelso Herston)
As the title implies, this album has a little more of a hard-country feel, although it's not quite the West Coast twangfest you might imagine... The title track was written by Sonny Curtis, and is followed up with a cover of the Wynn Stewart hit, "It's Such A Pretty World Today," which Lindsey plays fairily straight. The rest of the record is more overtly comedic, with some hits and some misses... Some tracks, like "Everything Else Is Just Toothpaste" and "If I Only Had A Brain" are played pretty broadly and are a little painful to listen to, though others are suprisingly solid, such as his versions of "Plastic Saddle" and Red Lane's "It'll Be Me." Lindsey doesn't always put on the Goober voice, and the tracks where he uses his natural voice are decent, if not earthshaking, country material, with a hint of Roger Miller in his delivery... The liner notes don't identify the studio musicians, although one would assume they're all Capitol country A-listers... Producer Kelso Herston penned a couple of the songs, and several are co-written by Ron Chancey. The liner notes make reference to the Mayberry RFD show, which was in full swing at the time. Nothing mind-blowing here, though it's probably better than you imagine.
George "Goober" Lindsey "...Goes To Town" (MCA Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Glasser & Brian Vessa)
Gary Link "Shell Factory Billboard Blues" (Great Southern, 1981) (LP)
Originally from Indiana, singer Gary Link moved to Southwest Florida in the '70s and had a minor regional hit with the song, "Shell Factory Billboard Blues," a twangy novelty number that namedrops a bunch of local references... There are other fun country-oriented tunes on here, some with a slight Jimmy Buffett vibe about them, although others remind me quite a bit of songwriter Dick Feller... The production values aren't great, but the songs are fun... Definitely worth a spin!
Gary Link "Nashville City Limit" (Great Southern, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Burgess)
Gary Link "As Requested" (Mariner, 1983) (LP)
Apparently, Gark Link died in a 1986 auto accident, so this may have been his last album... Anyone know for sure?
Sherwood Linton -- see artist discography
Kenny Lintz "Ain't Necessarily The Best, But The Only Of Kenny Lintz" (Lou-Ray Productions, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Grady O'Neal)
San Jose, California's Kenny Lintz was a construction worker whose devoted wife encouraged him to record an album, doubtless after many years of hearing him sing in the shower... The quirky liner notes to this odd little album reveal his own ambivalence about the project, hastening to say that a second album is probably not forthcoming. Lintz is a likeable but uneven performer -- sometimes he belts lyrics out quite effectively, though for a lot of this album he kinda hams it up and gets all croony and seems almost self-satirizing, even though I think his heart was really in it. Musically, it's mostly a lounge-y set, though there are country touches -- his own gritty vocal tone and some pedal steel, courtesy of Bobbie Black, an erstwhile member of the Commander Cody band. Other local talent included a couple of guys who were tied to the Santa Cruz pop band Harper's Bizarre, while guitarist Larry Serrano provides solid (though jazzy) accompaniment as well as the arrangements. Although he does include a few Nashville hits, this probably isn't really for twangfans... But it is a completely honest snapshot of an avowedly amateur musician cutting an album really just for the hell of it.
Little Butch "Coming On Strong" (LP)
(Produced by Bud Nagle & Bud Coss)
This set was recorded live at the Frontier Saloon, in Grand Forks, North Dakota by a gal who was married to an Air Force sergeant who was presumably stationed in the air force base nearby... Her real name isn't given on the album, and there appear to be no original songs on here, although her backing band is identified as Kenny Hart & The Blazers. Anyone have more info on these folks?
Little Feat -- see artist profile
Little Jo "Sonny Orr Productions Introduces..." (Marjon Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Rege Easler & Johnny Krizancic)
A native of Washington state, Ms. Little Jo (whose last name remains a mystery) started her musical career performing on US military bases in West Germany... She came back to the States, settled in Pennsylvania and worked for a profusion of little-known bands which are painstakingly detailed in the liner notes of this album: John Scingledecker's Country Look-Outs, George Keith & The Country Heirs, the Country Travelers, the Ranglers and others. Here she sings with guitarist Rege Easler and his band, the Silver Spurs, in an early '70s set of country covers, stuff like "I Fall To Pieces," "It Don't Hurt Anymore" and "D-I-V-O-R-C-E."
Ken Little & The Spoon River Band "Leanin' On The Bar" (Dharma Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Perry Johnson & Ken Little)
Sam Little "Fruit Tramp" (Road Runner Records) (LP)
An early album by folkie-twangster "Singing" Sam Little, a professional truck driver who worked in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska... On later albums he honed his image as a country trucker and most of his later records are trucker-themed. This one includes a wider range of material, including songs such as "Auction Barn," "Big Country Show," "The Gospel Singer's Reward" and "Big Country Show."
Garn Littledyke "Wichita Lineman" (Crown Records, 1968) (LP & MP3)
This was -- apparently -- the lone album by singer Garn Littledyke, one of those little-known nobodies who got their "break" recording fly-by-night sessions for cheapie labels such as LA's Crown Records, which tried to lure in unsophisticated LP buyers by covering big hits of the day, in hopes that their customers didn't know the names of the original artists. The draw for this album was a cover of Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman," although a lot of the other songs on here seem to be originals such as "I'm Tied Down" and "Shadows Of My Mind," which sadly have no songwriter credits attached to them. Littledyke was a remarkably primitive singer, croaking his way through a very enjoyable though undeniably campy set of twangtunes... As is often the case with these albums, there's a lot of ridiculously unrestrained picking by the anonymous backing musicians (who were probably hippie rockers doing a pickup session) all of which adds to the album's unique charm. It's possible there was more than one singer on these sessions: a highlight track is the Roger Miller-ish "Don't Let the Door Slap Your Backside Goin' Out," which has a more solid, hillbilly rock sound, as well as much stronger vocals. But who knows? Anyway, for fans of this subgenre, this album's a hoot.
Bubba Littrell "Sings Tulsa County... And Ten More New And Old Favorites" (Joey Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Joey Lopez)
Jon K. "Bubba" Littrell (1936-2011) was a local country stalwart from San Antonio, Texas... He used to back Leon Payne from time to time and led his own band, the Melody Mustangs for several decades, doing dance hall gigs all around Texas and the Panhandle... I'm not sure if this was his only album... Anyone have more info about this guy?
Bubba Littrell "Album Number 3: Something Very Special" (Joey Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Bubba Perron)
Live Wire Choir "Live Wire Choir" (Helios, 1978) (LP)
A bluegrass/western swing crossover band from Missoula, Montana, mixing fiddle, mandolin and pedal steel... The band's original guitarist, Richie Reinholt, has the album for sale on bandcamp.com
Live Wire Choir "Topsy" (Matchbox, 1980) (LP)
Living Proof "First Time Around" (Jomar Records) (LP)
(Produced by Francis Tibor & Gerard Tibor)
Country covers by a trio from Hebron, North Dakota, a tiny satellite of the slightly larger capital city, Bismarck. I couldn't see a date on here, but the the album art makes me think this prbably came out around 1984-86... something like that. The Living Proof trio of Cary, Cory and Cy seem to be brothers -- they thank their parents on the album cover, but unfortunately don't give their own last name. They are joined by a couple of the Tibor brothers -- Harvey (banjo and steel guitar) and Gerard Tibor (synthesizers) -- on a set that seems to include some original material, as well as covers of classics such as "Folsom Prison Blues" and "If You Could Touch Her At All."
Floyd Lloyd "Wilf Carter Song Book" (Arc Music) (LP)
Not to be confused with the reggae/ska artists who was part of Laurel Aitken's posse, Canadian country singer Floyd Lloyd recorded several albums for the Arc Music label, specializing in tribute albums such as this one, which I believe was his first...
Floyd Lloyd "...Sings Ernest Tubb" (Arc Music) (LP)
Floyd Lloyd "...Sings More Wilf Carter Song Hits" (Arc Music) (LP)
On this second Wilf Carter tribute album, the musicians include Tommy St. James, another Canadian local who recorded some stuff on his own as well...
Ron Lloyd "New Moons 'N' Old Leather" (Deshutes Station)
Paula Lockheart "The Incomplete Paula Lockheart" (Flying Fish, 1979)
NYC-based blues/swing pianist Paula Lockheart evoked the classic work of 1940's slick clicks such as Lil Green and Julia Lee, with sly, lusty romps through a lively mix of cover songs and original material. Mostly on the jump blues and swing-jazz tip, but with a healthy bit of old-school twang in there as well, particularly in the rollicking "Boogie Woogie Country Girl," a tune I heard a bazillion times on KFAT radio, back in the olden days. Fans of Marcia Ball, Asleep At The Wheel and the artists they admired will probably find this disc to be lots of fun as well. This is a pretty sweet collection of her work - fun, rambunctious blues boogies that'll get your toes a-tappin' every time. (PS - Here's an interesting aside: apparently Ms. Lockheart went on to found LockMusic, the company that started the Music Together arts program for pre-K toddlers... I will dedicate my next scarf dance in her honor!)
The Locust Fork Band "Playin' Possum" (LFB Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Travis Rivers)
A longhair boogie band from Montgomery, Alabama who probably had pretty big dreams. There's definitely some twang in here, mostly on a couple of tongue-in-cheek country songs, though these folks were more of a boogie-rock and Southern rock/jam band outfit, also balancing things out with a few really goddawful would-be Top Forty '70s pop songs. Several different bandmembers sing lead on various songs, some are good and some... well, less so. Musically, these guys had some chops and probably were prety popular live, although they probably needed to either tighten things up and trim the fat on a few songs, or else just go for it and become a crazy jam band. Either way, this album wound up being a groovy time capsule of Deep South semi-alterna-rock, giving a taste of what folks just outside the orbit of the whole Muscle Shoals/Memphis scene could sound like. I do like the country stuff, too, especially the cheatin' song, "Overnite Success," written by Bill Marshall... His tune "Tuscaloosa" is another album highlight. Also worth noting are a few of the guest performers, including Charlie Daniels and Tracy Nelson, who sings backup on four of the songs. I wouldn't say I love this album, but if you get a chance, check it out.
Logan Creek Vocal Band "First Time Around" (1982) (LP)
(Produced by Don Thomson)
Original material by a fairly clean-cut band from Rolla, Missouri...
Lew London "Swingtime In Springtime" (Philo, 1976)
(Produced by Lew London)
The Lonesome Valley Singers "Hello Vietnam: Country And Western War Songs" (Diplomat, 1965) (LP)
One of the many anonymous bands booked by the cheapie labels to record knockoff albums, The Lonesome Valley Singers actually featured several hotshot pickers, and they knew how to play. The group frequently recorded concept albums, including a number of patriotic albums that can be considered part of the right-wing folk movement. This early album is a vigorous, robust defense of the war in Viet Nam, with a healthy bit of twang in the mix. This record kicks off with a cover of Tom T. Hall's "Hello Vietnam" and includes even blunter songs with titles such as "Jungle War," "It's Got To Be Done," "What We're Fighting For" and "Don't Worry Just Pray." The tide would turn in public opinion, but back in '65 when this came out, the war was still up for grabs, and this is an unusually political record for a country band of the era. Worth checking out, though maybe most if you're a history buff.
The Lonesome Valley Singers "Country Serenade" (Diplomat Records) (LP)
The Lonesome Valley Singers "Men In The Green Berets" (Diplomat, 1966) (LP)
Piggybacking on the popularity of Sgt. Barry Sadler's Ballads Of The Green Berets, this is another, perhaps less nuanced pro-Vietnam album, with songs of macho might and derring-do... This record was once a pretty common sight, and was probably a good seller for the folks at Diplomat.
The Lonesome Valley Singers "Folsom Prison Blues" (Diplomat Records) (LP)
Another concept album, this time a set of prison songs, ala Johnny Cash, who topped the charts in 1968 with his live version of "Folsom Prison Blues," recorded as part of his first famous prison concert album. What caught my eye on this album was the fact they added composer credits -- a rarity on this kind of record -- and that, other than the title track" all the other songs are originals, all published by the Kasen Music Company, which was owned by the Diplomat label's founder Daniel Kasen. Among their stable of writers was Ramsey Kearney, who later became the king of Nashville's "song-poem" producers, though he was apparently still paying his dues in the trenches when this record came out.
The Lonesome Valley Singers "Wichita Lineman/Little Arrows" (Diplomat Records) (LP)
The Lonesome Valley Singers "God Bless The Working Man" (Diplomat, 1971-?) (LP)
This later album is still pro-Vietnam War, but tackles a wider range of themes and presents a richer picture of the American cultural landscape, albeit from the point of view of what what had been dubbed "The Silent Majority" by President Nixon, the un-hippie, blue-collar "squares" who supposedly supported the war. Songs include "God Bless The Boys In Uniform," "The Politician And The War," "P.O.W.," "War Time Taxes" and slightly more forlorn, resigned-yet-hopeful songs such as "Oh Victory" and "Will We Ever See Peace Again." The times they were a-changing, though and while this early '70s album still has a conservative tilt, it nonetheless offers a more nuanced, less propagandistic snapshot of post-Woodstock, pre-Watergate America.
Helen Long & Longshot Country "The Ponderosa Hotel Presents: Longshot Country" (Longshot, 1979) (LP)
A nice document of a hotel lounge band from Reno, Nevada featuring singer Helen Long and her musical partner, steel guitarist Lynda Buzard, who also get a credit as the band's arranger. There's no date on the album, but the liner notes say that the band was formed in 1969, and had been together for ten years before cutting this disc. The music is all cover tunes, with some interesting choices, generally on the softer side to the spectrum -- stuff like Harlan Howard's "Another Bridge To Burn," "The Green, Green Grass Of Home," "Old Dogs, Children And Watermelow Wine," along with a few more uptempo numbers, such as "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Let Me Be There." Long was not the world's greatest singer, and the band backing her often rushes the tempo, but still, this is a good snapshot of a working band, chugging away on music they love. Plus, it's kind of cool to see one of these bands being led by two women, rather than having them in the role of "backup" musicians.
Longbranch Pennywhistle "Longbranch Pennywhistle" (Amos, 1969) (LP)
A pre-Eagles Glenn Frey and songwriter John David Souther formed this late-'60s duo, playing gigs in the nascent SoCal country-rock scene... I haven't heard this one, but I'm sure curious about it...
Shorty Long/Various Artists "The Shorty Long Show -- Live At Ontelaunee Park" (Dollo Records) (LP)
Not to be confused with the Alabama soul singer of the same name, Pennsylvania's country bandleader Shorty Long (born Emidio Vagnoni, 1924-1991) was a real jack of all trades in the postwar entertainment industry. In addition to being a prolific songwriter and longtime fixture in the East Coast and Midwestern country scene, Long was a successful Broadway actor (playing the hick character Herman, in the original cast of Frank Loesser's "Most Happy Fella") and he also did A&R and session work for RCA records, where he worked with stars such as Eddy Arnold and Elvis Presley. Allentown, PA was his main stomping ground, though -- in addition to live performances on radio, TV and on stage, he operated two successful live music venues: Santa Fe Ranch opened in 1948 and later gave way to the Ontelaunee Park venue after Long found a bigger plot of land in 1965. This album was recorded there, with guest artists that included local TV personality Sally Starr, as well as Jay Earle, Eddie Butterworth, and others. Long sold Ontelaunee Park in 1982, following a heart attack the previous year, but continued to perform off and on over the rest of the decade.
Lonnie & Lottie "Baby Bye Bye" (Marathon Records, 1973) (LP)
A brother-sister duo from Maniwaki, Quebec, Lonnie and Lottie O'Reilly started out as child performers and worked steadily in local radio and TV, including a gig on Gary Buck's show... I think this was their first album and is mostly cover songs, with one original song credited to each of the siblings: Lonnie wrote "There's Only One You," while Lottie penned "Your Favourite Pastime" (with British-style spelling!) They also cover "Country Roads," "Okie From Muskogee," "Teddy Bear Song" and other early '70s and late '60s hits. It's possible that Lottie sounded better as a child performer, though she's kinda wobbly here... On some songs where she sticks to harmony she sounds kind of like Skeeter Davis. Brother Lonnie's got kind of a Charlie Louvin-esque vocal tone that's not bad and sounds decently country... Fairly rootsy arrangements as well, though again, not necessarily top-flight stuff.
Loose Boots "Loose Boots" (Criminal Records, 1978) (LP)
Jangly, bouncy, brghtly twangy country-rock from the late '70s Tucson, Arizona scene. This band featured songwriters Scott Sechman, along with Billy Odom, formerly of the Straight Shot band. It's nice stuff, roughly in the same vein as hippiebilly bands such as the late-edition Flying Burrito Brothers or New Riders Of The Purple Sage.
Lorraine & The Country Gentlemen "By Request" (Charter Records, 1973) (LP)
Mostly country covers by a youthful quartet from the Seattle-Tacoma, Washington area... Lead singer-bassist Lorraine Van Sickle had a regular gig at an old Seattle bar called the Branding Iron and also performed on a local TV station (Channel 13) backing a guy named Grover Jackson in the early 1970s. Her band included her husband, Skip Van Sickle, steel player Joe Brignone and drummer Terry Hildreth. The repertoire on this album is mostly cover songs, with a tilt towards popular hits of the early '70s such as "Teddy Bear Song," "Polk Salad Annie," "Tie A Yellow Ribbon," "I Believe In Music" and -- of course -- "Me And Bobby McGee." The album also includes one song by another local artist, Carol Cuff, who was friends with the band and who recorded an album of her own several years later. Many years later, Ms. Van Sickle resurfaced as Lorraine Hoyle, owner of the Lady Luck's Cowgirl Up, a steakhouse with a country music vibe, up in Spanaway, WA.
Lorraine & The Country Gentlemen "Just Drivin' " (Peace Arch Recording, 1981-?) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Duckworth)
This album's from much later, in the early 1980s, with covers of two John Conlee songs, 1978's "Rose Colored Glasses," and 1980's "Friday Night Blues," as well as Johnny Lee's hit, "Lookin' For Love," which was also from 1980. She had changed up her band as well as her name, now going by Lorraine Redding, with Chet Richardson on lead guitar and Mike Shannon playing drums. The repertoire is pretty much all covers. though the title track, "Just Drivin'," may have been an original, though there were no composer credits on the album. Tacoma old-timer Ray "Shotgun Red" Hildreth contributed liner notes, giving a nod of his hat towards the old days when they worked various gigs togeher, and when his son Terry was in her band.
Lost Highway Band "Travelin' Light" (Texas Re-Cord Company, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Augie Meyers)
Lost Highway Band "Play Somethin' We Can Dance To" (Bow Records, 1979) (LP)
The Lost Gonzo Band "Dead Armadillos" (Edsel, 1996)
This was Jerry Jeff Walker's old backup band, which, steeped in the mystique of their association with Jerry Jeff, managed to wrangle a couple of LPs out of their record label before getting shuffled quietly under the rug. This disc collects material from their first two LPs, the highlight track is, of course, the classic "London Homesick Blues," with the chorus: "I wanna go home with the armadilla/with country music from Amarilla to Abeline/the friendliest people and the purtiest women you ever seen..." It was the only time on record that Lost Gonzo songwriter Gary P. Nunn outshone Jerry Jeff as a performer... at least until he pursued a solo career on his own label. Nunn's solo records throughout the '80s and early '90s have been uniformly high-quality.
The Lost Gonzo Band "Rendezvous" (Amazing Records, 1991)
The Lost Gonzo Band "Hands Of Time" (Vireo, 1995)
Lost Nation String Band "Lost Nation String Band" (Dodo Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Victor Marsh)
Obscure and rural, though not all that country. This quartet from Bayfield, Wisconsin mixed bluegrass twang with a hefty dose of "Puff The Magic Dragon"-ish folk... A little too folkie for me, but I did like their label name ("The Label Of Extinction") It's mostly cover tunes, including stuff by John Lennon and Tom Paxton, as well as a version of John Hartford's "Tall Buildings," as well as some Celtic-influenced traditional bluegrass stuff. There is some country-ish, stuff, though: guitarist/banjo picker Warren Nelson contributed some original material, including the lively "Rosie Where Are You Tonight" and his own new lyrics to "Whiskey Before Breakfast." Bandmembers Bruce Burnside and Don Pavel added one song each, including Pavel's "Sittin' Around Pickin'," which is an album highlight. Mostly this isn't the kind of stuff I'm looking for, but it is some obscure old Midwestern DIY, and might be of interest to folks who are into the whole Twin Cities acoustic music scene...
Skip Lotten "Nashville Won't You Be My Home" (NW Enterprises, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Nitzsche)
I couldn't track down the date on this one (anyone out there know?) nor much info about Mr. Lotten, whose full name was Ollin O. Lotten, Jr., a native of Indiana, who looks like he was in his twenties when he cut this album. Like a lot of country folks, he may have wanted to make Nashville his home, but found Music City a tough nut to crack -- eventually he seems to have gravitated towards Branson, Missouri, and released at least one other record, a New Age-y/meditative album for kids... Other than that, the guy's a cipher. This album's title track was one of four originals, but many of the other songs are covers, such as "Friend Of The Devil," "Fox On The Run" and "Hickory Wind." Any other info is, of course, welcome.
Stormin' Norman Louis "...And The Cyclones" (Muir Drive Music, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by Tiran Porter & Ken Kraft)
Bar-band twang from a terribly sincere Northern California dude who didn't have the greatest voice, but did put his all into making this album. He's sort of in the same mode as folks like Norton Buffalo or Cornell Hurd, just not at the same level musically... There is some nice pedal steel (by "Slippery" John Weston) and session picker Frank Reckerd sits in on one track, "California Cowboy," but otherwise most of the musicians are (to me) unknowns. Nothing here really wowed me, but it's definitely another example of real-folk, country-indie DIY... He seems to have made at least a couple of albums, though there also seems to have been some rivalry with the Stormin' Norman (Zamcheck) who cut some tunes in the '70s, and later started billing himself as "The Real Stormin' Norman." Plus, what about General Schwarzkopf? This could get ugly!
Ola Louise "Most Requested Songs By Ola Louise" (MCR, 1974) (MP3)
(Produced by Charles Thompson & Jim Spence)
This was the lone album by California singer Ola Louise, a former rodeo pageant queen from Arizona who moved to the Golden State in the 'Fifties and married Paul Westmoreland, a Sacramento-area deejay and country music songwriter best known for the hit song, "Detour." She sings that one here, along with several other Westmoreland tunes and hits of the era such as "Behind Closed Doors," "Me And Bobbie McGee," and Leroy Van Dyke's "The Auctioneer." It's an enjoyable record, even though Ola Louise is sometimes a difficult vocalist -- she doesn't always stay in tune, though I think a lot of this has to do with the problems of low-budget, self-released, DIY recordmaking - no time for re-dos, so some flubs just got left in. But at her best she evokes gal singers such as Loretta Lynn and, more particularly, Liz Anderson, with a rootsy take on the (then)contemporary countrypolitan sound. The backing musicians were pretty good and provided an adequate and reasonably twangy backing -- good examples of the regional pickers working in the Central Valley at the time, though unfortunately they're not listed in the liner notes. Ola Louise also briefly recorded for the Kapp label in the late '60s, although I think she only recorded a couple of singles, neither of which charted. So, here's the recorded legacy of a little-known hillbilly filly who seems to have been in the thick of the California country scene... Anyone have more info about her?
Jim Lovell "Teardrops In My Heart" (Circle B Recordings) (LP)
A plainspoken solo set of western (cowboy) songs by one of the Circle B Cowboys from Rapid City, South Dakota's Circle B Ranch... This album looks more modern than the old Circle B Cowboys records of the '60s and '70s... Possibly it's from as late as the early '80s(?) though apparently it came out on 8-track tape as well, so it couldn't have been much later than that. Lovell is a deep-voiced singer with limited range but plenty of heart. Not a standout for the genre, but satisfying and sincere.
Bobby Lowe "I'm Movin' On... And Other Country And Western Favorites" (Crown Records, 1968-?) (LP)
One of the countless unheralded country artists who semi-anonymously recorded an album for the uber-cheapo Crown label... and one of the more talented! I have no info about Bobby Lowe, beyond song titles, there are no liner notes on this album, so it's all a mystery to me. What's comes through quite clearly, though, is Lowe's solidly old-school approach, particularly his rough, blunt, unique-sounding semi-hillbilly vocals. Not surprisingly, he sounds most like Hank Snow, but there are also hints of Ernest Tubb and other notoriously odd-voiced old-timers. Pretty solid backing bands, too, though again, the musicians aren't listed. A lot of cover tunes, although it's possible that several songs -- "The Seven C's Of Tears," "Anniversary Of Goodbye," "The Best Part of Me," and "My Hopes Are Getting Dim" -- were originals... they certainly are some of the most enjoyable tracks on the album! By the way, as of this writing, there's a link to this album through iTunes to a reissue of this record, so you don't have to dig through the bins to find it...
Jerry Lowe & The Imperials "Don't Look Like Baby's Comin' Home" (Imperial International, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Chuck Heifner & Jerry Lowe)
Country covers from an uber-indie Indiana band... These guys were all locals, with lead singer Jerry Lowe born and raised in the Hoosier homeland, moving from New Castle to Straughn, Indiana, by the time this album was made. The set is mostly (if not all?) covers -- late-'60s/early '70s stuff like "Me And Bobby McGee," "Kay," "Satin Sheets," "Proud Mary" and "I Washed My Hands In The Muddy Waters." Dunno if any of the guys from the Imperials played with any other bands... For what it's worth, the group included Pat Johnson on pedal steel and Ray Reynolds on bass, with a couple of different guys playing piano. No date on the album, but I'm guessing '74, based on the repertoire.
Ken Lowery & Country Fever Band "Seagram's Double 7 Winner" (Plantation, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Cal Scott)
In 1982, this band from Lakeview, Florida was the winner of a talent contest sponsored by the Seagram's 7 booze company, looking for the best "young country" band in the US... They won $5000.00 and a recording contract with the Plantation label, the fruits of which are seen here. Looks like this album includes a bunch of original material as well...FYI, second place went to a band called Baked Apple, from Groton, CT.
Ron Lowry "Marry Me" (Republic Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Adams)
Another country music also-ran... The title track cracked into the Top Forty (barely), though the follow-up single, "Oh How I Waited," pretty much tanked, and I think that was all she wrote for Mr. Lowry's solo career... This was a mildly twangy version of a song recorded by Engelbert Humperdinck in '69, and while this version is a bit perkier, it retains a lot of the same bouncy late-'Sixties orchestral pop sensibility. Apparently Lowry was an based in Arizona at the time this came out, though he grew up in New Mexico and settled in around Tucson after serving a hitch in the Army.
Clifford Lopez Lukesh "Clifford Lopez Lukesh" (LP)
A bilingual country album from an influential New Mexico singer, with Spanish-language songs alongside English-language honkytonk standards... I wasn't able to track down a label name or recording/release date for this one (or any of his other albums, and there are a few) but I'd welcome any info that readers can provide...
Luke Warmwater "Harmony Grits" (Munich Records, 1974) (LP)
This European-based group appears to have been made up mainly of American expatriates living in Holland... Guitarist Steve Harding wrote a lot of their music, with backing by Alice Brown on fiddle and mandolin, and Willie Murphy plunking banjo, with various European collaborators. Brown later worked with a guy named Buddhix, who (in 1976) covered one of the Luke Warmwater songs, Steve Harding's "Saskatchewan Dan," while Harding himself relocated to California's central coast, where he went on to compose a variety of musical productions and albums.
Luke Warmwater "Where Were You Before" (Stoof Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Job Zomer & Dick van Schuppen)
Fiddle, banjo and guitar blend in an easygoing, fluid, post-bluegrass folkie miasma... These songs are mostly loose-knit, stream-of-consciousness affairs, pleasant on the ears though a little hard to focus on thematically. Hmmm. Well, yes, I suppose it's concievable that these longhairs were getting a little stoned while living in Holland in the 1970s. Anything's possible, right? Anyway, less of a country thing, but nice for listeners who are into the whole folk-freak thing.
Cathy Lunsford "You Men At The Bar" (One Shot With A Bullet Records, 1975)
Cathy Lunsford "Cowgirl In The Wind" (Ricochet, 1981)
(Produced by Cal Scott)
An ambitious self-released set from an Oregon cowgirl who wrote all but two of the songs on here -- the exceptions being a version of "Stay All Night" and Paul Davis's "Ride 'Em Cowboy." This is a spunky album, the kind of record by the kind of artist you want to root for, although to be honest, it does have its flaws. She booked a big band, with full country instrumentation -- fiddle, pedal steel, the works -- but the mix is a bit thin. More importantly, Lunsford herself was maybe not the greatest singer ever, though she might grow on you: if you're a fan of rootsy '70s/'80s second-stringers like Gail Davies and Linda Hargrove, you might want to check this out as well. Apparently her song, "Longnecks And Chili," was chosen as the official song for a big Portland, Oregon chili cook-off sometime back in the 1980s. (Personally I'm more interested in the "longnecks" part of that equation...) By the way, the Jim Mills listed as banjo player is not the same heavy-hitting bluegrass picker who was in the Ricky Skaggs band for a bazillion years. There were two banjo pickers with the same name... go figure!
Shana Lynette & Midwest Express "On The Right Track" (1985) (LP)
Hailing from Pittsburg, Kansas, Shana Lynette seems to have started out as a teenager performer, cutting an earlier, holiday-themed EP, with the oh-so-promising "Mr. Russian, Please Don't Shoot Down Santa's Sleigh" and "Getting Ready For Christmas." Here, despite the late date (mid-1980s) and the young country look, she covers a lot of oldies, stuff like "Hey Good Lookin'," "I Fall To Pieces" and "Statue Of A Fool," but throws in a few new tunes as well.
Dody Lynn & Bob Flower "Bob Flower And His Star Dusters" (Do-Re-Me, 1965) (LP)
Country bandleader Bob Flower had a day job as police chief of Cuba, New York, but he kept busy at nights, taking his band on the road to play gigs and even made the trek to Nashville a few times to cut singles, as well as this LP, which was his only full-length album. Flower described himself as "the poor man's Ernie Ford," and is firmly anchored in mainstream, old-school country. This album is almost all cover tunes, standards like "Cold, Cold Heart," "Four Walls," "Lonesome 7-7203" and the like. Flower sings half the songs solo, as well as a couple of duets with "girl" singer Dody Lynn who was a Cuba, NY native... Ms. Lynn also sings lead on a couple of tracks, including a version of "It Wasn't God Who made Honky Tonk Angels." Apparently Flower retired from the police force in 1966, and moved to Florida in the early '70s to retire -- Dody Lynn established herself as a solo performer, playing gigs around Cuba with a band called the Guitarmen.
Dody Lynn "You Make My Day" (B-W Records, 1973) (LP)
As far as I know, this was Dody Lynn's only solo album, released in the early '70s when she was playing local gigs with her band, the Guitarmen.
Janet Lynn "Promise Me Anything" (Nu-Country, 1976-?) (LP)
This solo album by Texas gal Janet Lynn showcases her rural vocals, placing her stylistically in with the likes of Donna Fargo and Loretta Lynn, truly twangy, although not as confident or forceful as those star-power Nashville gals. Still, it's a completely charming album, and definitely worth a spin if you get a chance. Lynn was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in the year 1999 -- listen to this a few times and you'll understand why! (See below for her earlier work with musical partner Johnny Lyon.)
Rebecca Lynn "Hold Me Tight" (Elka, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Borchetta, Eddie Martinez & Warren Roche)
Singer Rebecca Lynn was an also-ran country singer from Texas who recorded a few singles on the Ranwood label before releasing her first album, which was made up of a lot of the same material... She went on to release one other LP before going back to to singles-only releases, and eventually retired from the spotlight. There are plenty of A-list musicians backing her up, including guitarist James Burton, bassist Emory Gordy as well as Richard Bennett and J. D. Maness on pedal steel, though I think the songs were recorded over a period of several years and the lineup changes a lot from track to track. Who played on which songs isn't really clear. Anyway, it took me a while to warm up to this album since Lynn's vocals seem fairly flat (especially on the first side of the album) and her high-pitched tones seem better suited to "girl group" pop than to country. But a few songs stuck out on Side Two, such as "He's Too Busy Working To Cheat On Me" and "Cold Carolina Morning," and I was able to see her as working in the style of singers such as Skeeter Davis or Donna Fargo. What's most notable about this alubm is that it's the first country album produced by Mike Borchetta, who was married to Rebecca Lynn at the time, and his experiences working to promote Lynn led him to switch his career path from working with rock artists in LA to becoming one of the big names in Nashville. (Borchetta helped start Curb Records' Nashville office, and signed Tim McGraw while working there, and he later started several successful indie labels... and it all started here!) Not a great record, but it have a certain '70s sunshine-y charm.
Rebecca Lynn "Something Pretty Bad" (Calliope Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Borchetta, Eddie Martinez, Warren Roche, Joe Saraceno & Fred Vance)
Worst. Album title. Ever. I tried to warn them, but nobody ever listens to me... Oh, well.
Sharie Lynn & Her Show-Fers "Keepin' It Country" (Alpha Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Bobbie Thomas)
This one is popular with folks online who like to make fun of "bad" album art... I'm not sure where or when this was recorded -- some folks say Ms. Lynn was from around Chicago -- but I love the band name. Ms. Lynn had kind of a Dolly Parton thing going on with her wardrobe, and the matching lightning-bolt outfits of the boys in the band are a sight to behold as well. She sang about half the songs on the album, letting each of the band members -- John Beke, Wayne Douglas, Joe Nelson and Leon Wilson -- all sing lead on one song as well. Lynn sings in kind of a milky, Lynn Anderson-esque countrypolitan style -- from the looks of things I'd guess this came out in the early '80s, possibly the late, late '70s, but I'm not totally sure either way. Anyone out there have more info about this album?
Johnny Lyon & Janet Lynn "Makin' Country" (Nu-Country, 1976) (LP)
A consummate Texas country singer, Major Johnny Lyon (1937-2010) was a career military man who spent two decades in the Air Force, serving a tour of duty in Vietnam before being re-stationed in the Lone Star State, where he was able to pursue a parallel career as a country music bandleader. In 1970, Lyon partnered up with singer Janet Lynn -- creatively, not romantically -- and started the Nu-Country band, label and publishing company, leading their band across the state throughout the decade, and were stalwart members of the Austing music scene of the late 1970s. Lyon and Lynn made several records, and after Lyons left the Air Force in 1980, he opened the Texas Hall Of Fame, a popular music venue between Austin and Houston. (The Hall of Fame closed after Lyon passed away in 2010; the following year it was demolished to make way for a Walmart store...) I believe this was their first album on the Nu-Country label, although they may have cut some singles before this.
Johnny Lyon "Lyon Country" (Nu-Country, 1977)
(Produced by Frenchie Burke)
This album's mostly cover tunes, with a studio crew that included Randy Cornor on guitar and Frenchie Burke on fiddle...
Johnny Lyon & The Country Nu-Notes "The Austin Sessions" (www.johnnylyon.com, 1977)
Heidi Lyons "Come On Home" (Sounding Post Records, 198--?) (LP)
(Produced by Heidi Lyons & Gene Breeden)
An indie album from the Seattle-Tacoma area, though Ms. Lyons recorded at Gene Breeden's Nashville studio, with Breeden on lead guitar, Terry Crisp on steel, Don Thompson playing rhythm guitar and banjo, and the Callaways singing backup. This seems to be an early '80s album: the liner notes are by a DJ from KMPS ("Kountry Music Puget Sound") AM-FM, which "went country" in 1978, and the set list includes a Vern Gosdin song, "What You Think Is Fair," which he recorded in 1982. The rest of the record is mainly cover songs, stuff like "My Baby Thinks He's A Train," "Walk Right Back," a couple of Patsy Cline covers --"Walking After Midnight" and "I Fall To Pieces." Two songs which were Lyons originals were also released as a single: "Come On Home" and "Country Touch."
Jodie Lyons "Talkin' Smokey" (Smokey Enterprises, Inc., 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Jodie Lyons & Fred Carter, Jr.)
A great record, but an odd release. A Nashville studio crew helmed by guitarist Fred Carter plays some great music behind a surprisingly strong, humor-filled set of trucker tunes, cashing in on the CB radio "craze" of the mid-1970s. What's weird is how singer-songwriter Jodie Lyons is kind of buried in the album art background -- if you read the liner notes it's not impossible to figure out he's the star of the show, but the record itself seems on-purpose pitched as a generic knockoff album -- I guess maybe they figured the middle-aged Lyons couldn't pull off a solo star act, ala C.W. McCall, so they packaged this is a Ronco-esque style? At any rate, it's a good record, with lots fo fun novelty numbers and really great picking from folks like Johnny Gimble, Weldon Myrick, Dale Sellars, Bobby Thompson, Charlie McCoy and the like.
Hick Music Index