Tom Pacheco & Sharon Alexander "Pacheco & Alexander" (CBS, 1971)
(Produced by John Hall & Tim Geelan)
A far-flung, kinda messy, folk-psych/boogie rock/'70s pop panoply, with songs in a variety of styles, generally characterized by an ecstatic party-rock vibe riddled with would-be lyrical profundities... Pacheco and Alexander had previously been in an East Coast psych-rock band called Euphoria which made one album then dissolved, after which they continued on as a duo... Most of the songs seem like starry-eyed hippiedelic ramblings, without much in the way readily discernable themes, although on one topical folk-type tune, "White Buffalo," Tom Pacheco bluntly hammers away on the theme of Native American rights. That track seems to be the strongest indicator of his future shift into a more overt country-rock persona... For the most part, this album seems to focus on Sharon Alexander as lead vocalist, and I gotta say, I find her kind of irritating, with a second-string Baez/Collins vibe that just doesn't work for me. It's like if Judy Collins dropped acid and drank tequila at a Laurel Canyon party and started free-associating her lyrics while dancing on a table top... I'm sure there are some folk-freak archivists out there for whom this sounds thrilling, I'm just not that into it. Lots of talented pickers on these sessions, though, including steel guitar by Bill Keith and producer John Hall, as well as bassist Jim Colgrove and drummer N. D. Smart, from Ian & Sylvia's Great Speckled Bird band.
Tom Pacheco "Swallowed Up In The Great American Heartland" (RCA, 1976)
(Produced by Shadow Morton)
Huh, wow. What a weird record... I gotta admit, I don't totally get it. I mean, in reality this is probably a classic '70s cosmic-cowboy album, I just don't really like Pacheco's gruff, growly voice or his persona all that much. Still, jeez -- what a wealth of talent was assembled in the studio for this one! Steve Miller and James Burton on guitar, Red Rhodes playing pedal steel, Byrds alumnus Chris Etheridge, bluegrassers Byron Berline and Larry McNeely, and even Gail Davies singing harmony... It's one of those major label deals where they just throw everything they can at it... Even a pre-Letterman Paul Shaffer shows up to arrange one of the songs... and girl-group mogul Shadow Morton as producer? WTF? It's kind of overblown, and I just don't buy Pacheco's bohemian, cowboy-poet semi-spoof of Ramblin' Jack Elliot (or whatever it is he's doing) but in spite of it all, I guess this is worth checking out. There's some great picking (particularly the pedal steel riffs) and some of the songs resonate, although in kind of funny ways. I bought this because I spotted the song title "Until I Heard Willie Nelson," a country name-checking novelty song that turned out to me disappointing musically (too jittery) but does have some interesting lyrics about Pacheco's discovery of both country music and the '60s counterculture. You'll have to be your own judge, though... I might just be too grouchy to give the thumbs-up on this one.
Tom Pacheco "The Outsider" (RCA Victor, 1976)
Pacific Steel Company "Pacific Steel Co." (Pacific Arts, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Al Perkins)
An all-instrumental summit session featuring five pedal steel playing giants of the West Coast country scene's royalty: Tom Brumley (who played with the Buck Owens band), Sneaky Pete Kleinow of the Flying Burrito Brothers (and countless hippie-country recordings) along with Red Rhodes, Jay Dee Maness, and Al Perkins, all of whom played on countless sessions for a wide range of artists. Like many instrumental albums, this may appeal mainly to aficionados of the instrument in question, and this particular disc has a few rock-pop moments that may distract more country-oriented fans. Melodic/psychedelic rock and a hint of disco color these tunes, but it's solid picking all the way through -- a delight for fans of steel guitar. Although they billed themselves as a "band," each track is credited to individual soloists, and each seems to have brought his own separate backup players, although the best tracks feature combinations of more than one steel player at a time. These were the guys who provided much of the sweet soulful ooomph for the SoCal country-rock sound, and it's nice to hear them emerge into the spotlight for a while.
Ace Pack & The Kingsmen Band "Snow On The Roses" (New Image) (LP)
Rick Page "Super Saturday" (Big Wheel, 1976) (LP)
An amiable, blonde-looking California dudester from Prather, California a tiny agricultural town near Fresno... I'm not sure if this album is all country, but some of it is... What really got my attention was that West Coast country legend Tom Brumley is on here -- playing steel guitar, naturally!
Ricky Page "Harper Valley PTA" (Spar Records, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Beasley)
Pop/rock singer June Evelyn Kuykendall (aka Ricky Page) became a backup singer in Nashville after years in show biz singing and recording both solo and as a member of the Georgettes girl group, working on the edges of the Brill Building and Phil Spector scenes. She got her shot at the bigtime -- sort of -- on this private/indie session, which mixed late '60s country-pop and pop standards, ranging from twangtunes such as "Angel Of The Morning," "Harper Valley PTA" and "Ode To Billy Joe" to more mainstream fare such as "Do You Know The Way To San Jose," "To Sir With Love" and "Georgy Girl." The debts to Bobbie Gentry and Jeannie C. Reilly are obvious, as well as Dusty Springfield and the girl-group gals... She even tries her hand at singing Miriam Makeba's "Pata Pata," a gogo-delic rendition which isn't an artistic success, but a potential kitsch classic. Page had a pretty nice voice and a strong, solid presence, although this album may not have fully realized her talent. The backing band is competent but lacks inspiration, and though the country tracks (in particular) are good, one really senses a missed opportunity here. Certainly worth a spin, especially for fans of late '60s country gals. Around the time this album came out, Page was recruited to work in the studio session vocal group, Nashville Edition, and while working with that group was a performer on Hee Haw for a number of years.
Los Paisanos "Border Country" (Border Country Productions, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Emmit Brooks)
Five guys from El Paso, Texas playing a nice, mellow mix of Anglo country-folk and Spanish-language border ballads... This group formed in the early 1960s, and had its roots in the coffeehouse folk scene of the era, though they really reflect the cultural diversity of the Texas borderlands. There's a definite country spirit as well, heard in country songs such as Billy Joe Shaver's "Ride Me Down Easy" and Paul Craft's "Bottom Of The Glass," along with a few bluegrass tunes ("Fox On The Run") and even some 'Sixties-era folk faves, such as the Kingston Trio's "M.T.A." ("Did he ever return?/No, he never returned/And his fate is still unlearned...) This is a nice, understated set with a cheerful, joyous feel. Engaging and unpretentious, definitely worth a spin. Although they released this album on their own label, it was recorded at Emmit Brooks's regional powerhouse, Goldust Records.
Randy Palmer "Fighter By Nature" (Roro Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Roger Hale & Randy Palmer)
An uber-indie set packed with original material, recorded in Hereford, Texas with steel guitar by Tex Rhodes...
Randy Palmer "Calling Me Home" (Heartland Productions, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Charles F. Brown)
Joe Pancerzewski "The Fiddling Engineer" (Voyager Recordings, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Phil Williams & Vivian Williams)
An old-timey fiddler from Enumclaw, Washington, backed by the Tall Timber String Band, a Seattle-based bluegrass group. Mr. Pancerzewski was born in 1905 in rural North Dakota and started out playing at local dances, then moved to Seattle as a teen, where he worked in regonal dance bands. By the mid-1920s, he was playing vaudeville shows with banjoist Loren Cotton, a friend of Eddie Peabody, but eventually got a day job working on the railroad in the late 1920s, a job he kept until retiring in the '60s. He was the 1971 Washington State Champion fiddler, which led to recording this album later that year.
Jack Paris & The Stepchildren "My Music, My Friends" (2J Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Gray & Harold Luick)
Jack Paris & The Stepchildren "Strawberries And Butterflies" (2J Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Gray & Harold Luick)
Jack Paris "Southern Session" (50 States, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Gray & Harold Luick)
Billy Parker "Average Man" (Sunshine Country Records, 1976) (LP)
A country DJ in Oklahoma, Billy Parker was a mover and shaker on the national country scene and also had modest success as a recording artist. He placed a couple dozen songs in the Billboard charts, although they were all strictly Back Forty material... Some are included on this uptempo, good-natured album which was recorded in Dallas, Texas, with the help of a few guys from Willie Nelson's band, along with some locals including bassist Marc Jaco, Jody Payne and Mickey Raphael. Also of note to fans of old-school hillbilly country are two gospel songs by Charline Arthur(!) the original 1950's hillbilly filly. Parker wasn't the world's greatest singer, but this is still pretty fun stuff, and definitley worth a spin.
Terry Parker "Canada's Yodelling Sweetheart: Miss Terry Parker" (Banff/Rodeo Records, 196--?) (LP)
A throwback to the yodeling cowgirls of the 1930s, Canada's Terry Parker started her career in the mid-1950s and released at least two albums on the Banff label... Though perhaps not as dynamic or fluid a vocalist as Patsy Montana, she was very much in that same mold, covering Montana's "Cowboy's Sweetheart," as well as othre classics such as "If I Could Only Learn To Yodel" and "He Taught Me How To Yodel." The musicianship is strong, brisk, and twangy, though the tonal quality changes from track to track, leading me to suspect these songs might have been drawn from singles which were issued over a span of several years. At any rate, it's good stuff, particularly for fans of the good, old yodel-ay-ti-hoo.
Terry Parker "The Yodeling Sweetheart" (Rodeo Records, 196--?) (LP)
This reissue on a US label -- an imprint of the Conversa-Phone Institute, in New York City -- is the same album as above, curiously repackaged so to omit any reference to Parker's Canadian background. The back cover includes listings for about a dozen Rodeo albums, with several other artists from up North.
Terry Parker "The Yodeling Sweetheart" (Banff/Rodeo Records, 196--?) (LP)
Just to make things even more confusing, this disc has the same title as the American edition of the album above, but totally different tracks... Go figure.
Wayne Parker "Oklahoma Twilight" (Ariola, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Curb & Wayne Parker)
Although songwriter Richard Lewis ("Wayne") Parker pays homage to Oklahoma, he was actually part of the Central California coastal music scene, a successful studio producer, session guitarist and composer, who "went country" on this, his lone solo album, after country star Eddy Raven had a Top 30 hit with one of his songs. That tune, "Good News, Bad News," is included here, kicking off a doleful album packed with gems... It was recorded partly in LA, partly in Nashville, with all of the fancy pickers you might imagine, and a special nod to New Grass Revival's Pat Flynn, who seems to have been Parker's pal. This is mostly a pretty slick, mellow, grandly orchestrated album, with some artistic tension between rootsy and countrypolitan: although he didn't score any hits, the overall feel tilts more towards the commercial end of the spectrum. Still, it's worth checking out... There are some interesting songs, and I think if the production had been a little more rugged, this could have been a more fun record...
The Parrish Brothers "The Parrish Brothers" (Now Records, 1974-?) (LP)
This Northern quartet was made up of four brothers -- Curtis, Floyd, Foy and Odell Parrish -- who had a gig at the Hollywood Lounge in Rochester, Minnesota at the time they made this album in Nashville. Foy and Floyd started the band back in the '50s, when they recorded a single called "This Is It," as the Parrish Twins. Curtis joined the band as their drummer in 1972, followed by Odell on bass... This album is packed with original material, including one song by Ray Pennington, who probably had a hand in its production (although there are no studio credits in the liner notes...) They were actually pretty good - technically proficient and decent singers, as well as canny imitators of big country stars. Their imitation of Waylon Jennings on Pennington's "Ramblin' Man" is dead on, while echoes of Merle Haggard and Conway Twitty may be a bit more subtle on other tracks. Overall, though, these guys were a better-than-average local band... Definitely worth a spin.
Gene Parsons -- see artist profile
Gram Parsons -- see artist profile
Mike Parsons "The Country Stage Introduces Mike Parsons" (Country Stage Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Owen)
An excellent album of boozy, melodic honky tonk, ala George Jones and Moe Bandy... Parsons seems to have been a native of Lorain County, Ohio and may have had a regular gig at the Country Stage Campground in nearby Nova, Ohio. I think that the album's producer, Jim Owen, was the same guy who made his name as a Hank Williams imitator (and I'll let you know when I find out for sure...) Regardless, Owen make major contributions to this record, penning almost half the songs (with Parsons contributing three more, cowritten with others, including one with his band's bass player, Rick Adkins.) Parsons had a good voice, great presence and really puts himself into these recordings... He had his own group, the Tennessee River Band, who get credited on the liner notes, although they didn't actually play on the album -- Parsons went to Nashville and recorded with a bunch of studio ringers, including guitarists Russ Hicks, Leo Jackson and Randy Byrd, as well as steel player Jim Baker. Perhaps the most interesting footnote is that Kay Adams (presumably the Bakersfield gal from the '60s) sings backup, although her voice is pretty buried in the mix. Anyway, if you like real-deal hard country, this is a pretty good record. If anyone out there has more info about this one, I'm all ears.
Randy Parton "Shot Full Of Love" (Electric Records, 1981) (LP)
Well, yeah, this is indeed a record by one of Dolly Parton's younger brothers... Randy Parton played bass in Dolly's band and parlayed his family connections into a short string of minor hits, and also apparently shared the family hairdo. The title track from this album peaked at #30 on the charts, followed by a few more singles that plunged into the deep Back Forty. He also contributed one song to the Rhinestone Cowboy soundtrack in 1984, but basically moved out of music and into other business ventures. As far as I know, this was his only full-length LP.
Walt Pascoe "Wilma The Belgian Mare" (Olympic Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Wilson Call & Tom Brumley)
Kind of an odd one here... Singer Walt Pascoe was a rancher's kid from an old Bakersfield family whose California roots went back to the 1880s, and while ranching was his day job he got into playing country stuff and did some gigs at local bars before recording a few singles and then this album. The title track is a children's song about a nice old lady who saved a horse in Belgium (said to be the biggest horse in the world) from being sent to the slaughterhouse. The rest of the record is more straight-up West Coast-style honkytonk, including songs such as "Four On The Floor" and "Truck Drivin' Woman." Legendary steel player Tom Brumley plays on and helped produce the album, along with several other local players from the San Joaquin Valley locale.
Pat & Tami "...At Riverland" (Custom Fidelity, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Pat & Tami Williams)
A classic vanity-press album. From the Great Central Valley come Kingsburg, California's Pat and Tami Williams, a husband-wife duo who are just about as lounge-a-delic as you can get. This one's really only marginally "country," although they do cover a lot of early 1970s Nashville hits, including country material like "Funny Face," Let Me Be There," Help Me Make It Through The Night" and "Country Roads," as well as Pop and pop-vocals tunes like "Joy To The World," "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree" and "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." Mr. Williams was kind of a poor man's Charlie Rich -- he really gets into his version of "The Most Beautiful Girl" -- though he was probably the better singer of the two. They manage to make all the songs sound basically the same, Pat adding a plodding, indistinct organ alongside Tami's modest snare set percussion. He croons, she coos -- her best number is a cover of "Killing Me Softly" which closes the album, her worst is an inert rendition of "Respect" which would make the mighty Aretha hang her head in shame. Still, though many out there would relish the chance to mock this and label it trashy, I prefer to look upon it as "authentic." Here are the Williamses, regaling a sedate, gray-haired audience at the Riverland dinner club, on the banks of the Kings River, circa 1974, singing their hearts out and dreaming their dreams. Not all that twangy, but definitely of its time.
Patchwork "Patchwork" (RCA Victor, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by David Kershenbaum, Brian Christian & Don Holden)
A country-rock group from San Antonio, Texas formed in the early 'Seventies by the husband-wife duo pf Shane and Kitty Appling, along with guitarists Richard Silen and Ed Shook. Also on the sessions are Willie Nelson's harmonica player Mickey Raphael and fiddler John Frigo, who made a name for himself as a jazz player, but also had a background in down-home country, including a long stint on the "National Barn Dance" show. Most of the musicians in this group also worked with Lone Star pop/country star B. W. Stevenson on his first album. The repertoire is almost all originals, including three songs written by Texas folkie Mike Williams.
Patchwork "This Is Patchwork" (Renee Records, 197--?) (LP)
Brenda Patterson -- see artist profile
David Patton "David Patton" (RCA/Wooden Nickel, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by James Lee Golden & Barry Alan Fasman)
Dunno much about this guy, except that he recorded two albums for the Chicago-based semi-indie Wooden Nickel label, which made its bread and butter with the early Styx albums, and folded not long after they left for the majors. Anyway, Patton's style is an uneven mix of country-folk, ala John Stewart and more rugged, rootsy material with a swamp-pop feel, evoking gruff-voiced guys like Jerry Reed and Tony Joe White. Patton doesn't have the gravitas or heft of those stars, but this is a notable early album in the '70s alt-country ouvre. The backing musicians are certainly of interest: session guitarist Larry Carlton picks lead guitar, dobro and banjo (he played on this and many other Wooden Nickel albums), along with Buddy Emmons on steel, and Patton playing acoustic guitar. Notable songs include "T.V.A.," a rambling dialogue which tells the story of a family that lost their land to the eminent domain claim of the rural electrification program, and "I'd Rather Be At The Grand Ole Opry," which sprinkle social commentary -- including a reference to the war in Viet Nam -- in with nostalgia for the Opry, namechecking Porter & Dolly as well as Earl Scruggs. This album isn't a gem, but it's something of a nugget.
David Patton "Buckeye" (RCA/Wooden Nickel, 1972) (LP)
Jimmy Patton "Take 30 Minutes With Jimmy Patton" (Stereotone, 1962) (LP)
Before signing with the Sims record label, Jimmy Patton was a regular member of the Dallas, Texas Big D Jamboree... In the late 1950s, he recorded several singles for Sims, including some well-regarded rockabilly material.
Jimmy Patton "Blue Darlin' " (Sims Records, 1965) (LP)
Jimmy Patton "Make Room For The Blues" (Moon Records, 1967) (LP)
Jimmy Patton "Just For You" (Moon Records, 1976) (LP)
Richard Patureau & The Bayou Bandits "Still Trying" (Texas Breeze Records, 1986) (LP)
(Produced by John Logan & Larry Seyer)
A strong set of all original honky-tonk, with only one song not written by Patureau. This album was recorded in Austin, Texas... Though John Ely plays pedal steel on most tracks, hotshot guitarist Junior Brown guests on lap steel for one track, "Boudreaux's Daughter." Other musicians include producer John Logan on guitars and Gene Elders playing fiddle, with various others on piano, drums, etc.
Paul & Archie "Golden Country Memories" (Slade Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Schultz & Gary Emerson)
This old-school country duo from Crookston, Minnesota covered cowboy songs, hillbilly ballads and sentimental weepers by sources ranging from Gene Autry and Carson Robison to Johnny Cash and Tommy Collins. They got some assistance from lead guitarist Dave Childs, banjo plunker Archie Heikkila and bassist John Yurrick, as well as backing vocals by Judy Childs and producer Paul Schultz. Nice, simple, down-home stuff!
Don Paul & The Critters "Exciting Hit Songs" (Rite Records, 196--?) (LP)
Although this album was pressed by the Cincinnati custom label Rite Records, singer Don Paul was a New Englander, leading his Massachusetts-based band, The Critters, for several years in the '60s. They played venues such as the Ranch House in Springfield, along with other regional gigs. Paul was apparently born in upstate New York -- the liner notes say he was from "a town" in the Adirondack Mountains, though unfortunately don't specify which one -- and though I'm not 100% sure he was the same guy, I think he may have also been a radio deejay, working as country music program director at a variety of stations throughout the 1970s, '80s and '90s. On this album he's backed by steel guitarist Sam Gibson, a well-regarded player who exhibits an unusual style on this record, as well as bassist Al Foisy and drummer Gerry Bruce. Although the vocals by Paul and Foisy are sometimes a little iffy, the overall sound is lively and robust -- the pedal steel goes into some crazy tones, with a kind of staccato attack that sounds fairly unique: his version of the instrumental, "Slinky," is pretty wild. There are also some great flights of bar-band amateurism that give this album an unintentional novelty flair, such as their funky, rock-flavored versions of "Okie From Muskogee" and "Folsom Prison Blues" (where they even mention people smoking pot!) Nice snapshot of a local East Coast band.
Paulsen, Baker & Garvey "Midnight To Eight" (Self-Released, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Paulsen, Baker & Garvey and Todd Schaefer)
Hailing from Rochester, New York, the trio of John Paulsen, Keith Baker and John Garvey had a solid foundation in contemporary '70 soft-rock/country-rock/AOR, as heard on the opening tracks of this album, which echo the music of Harry Nilsson and John Denver... They drift backwards into jaunty, Chad Mitchell-ish '60s-style pop-folk (on the Paulsen-penned "Can't You Hear" and a version of "I'm Going Home," written by Fred Geis of the Kingston Trio) and sideways into a couple of country covers. I have to admit, their country numbers left me cold -- the vocals on "Glendale Train" and "Six Days On The Road" are a little too jokey and faux-hick for me, but this album is mostly notable for the wealth of original material, with half the songs written by John Paulsen, three by Baker, and several others that seem to have been written my fellow folkies in their orbit. The musicianship is pretty solid, and fans of John Denver-style folk-pop will find a lot to celebrate in these earnest, heartfelt recordings.
Paulsen, Baker & Garvey "Full House" (1981) (LP)
This album was recorded live at the Elmwood Inn in Rochester, and the Crazy Horse bar in Honeoye, NY. There are several covers of outlaw standards, such as "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," "Desperado," "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother," "Willin'" by Little Feat, and Pure Prairie League's "Pickin' To Beat The Devil." The trio also included a few of their own original songs, including "Girl, When I Met You" by Keith Baker and John Paulsen's "It's Alright."
Butch Paulson & The Rebel Breed "Live At The Circle" (Stacka Records, 1969) (LP)
A Washington State rocker who is fondly remembered for the smoking-hot 1961 rockabilly novelty song, "Man From Mars," Butch Paulson led several bands (or at least, he changed his band names frequently...) His rock'n'roll vibe centered more on twang in later years, as heard on this swinging 'Sixties set, which I believe was the only full-length LP on this tiny local label...
Butch Paulson "Definition" (Young Country Records, 1974) (LP)
Johnny Paycheck - see artist discography
Dennis Payne "We're Indian" (Red Man Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Gary S. Paxton)
This was a slightly odd concept album concocted by country-rock entrepreneur Gary S. Paxton, who was inspired by the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island to make an album of Indian-oriented folk-country music. Paxton drafted one of the pickers in his orbit, Bakersfield country-rocker Dennis Payne (the nephew of songwriter Leon Payne) and cast him in an unlikely role as a folksinging advocate for Native American rights. I guess if you were into Johnny Cash's Native American-oriented folksongs or the same era, you might want to check this one out, too. Unfortunately, Payne never really got his shot at solo fame -- he was a country-rock also-ran who was always on the edges of bigger things, or involved in projects that never really went anywhere. He recorded a few singles under his name, and released some CDs in later life, but I think this was his only "solo" album from the good old days.
Sharon Kay Peabody "...With The Tibor Brothers" (Tomar Records, 1978) (LP)
A North Dakota gal, with backup from one of the state's best-known and longest-running country bands.
Lynda Peace "50/50s" (Redondo Pacific Studio, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Thurlow & Janet Krick)
Bridging country and rock, singer Lynda Peace recorded this set in Redondo Beach, California, drawing on some diverse SoCal talent. Rockabilly old-timer Johnny Meeks plays guitar on one track, "Say Mama," while Paul Halel plays pedal steel, with Peter Schless on piano, Mark Guerrero on bass, and a few others pitching in. They cover twangtunes such as "Rocky Top," "Great Balls Of Fire," and Rusty Wier's "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance," along with some originals... Peace later moved to Utah, and became Lynda Davidson... As far as I know this was her only album.
Herb Pedersen - see artist discography
Kelly Pedersen & The Mesa Band "Rodeo Queen" (Maske Records, 1986) (LP)
The Peewee Pickers "Gettin' Goin' " (Peewee Pickers, 1982) (LP)
Aw, gosh, little bluegrass pickers can be so darn cute! And sometimes they grow up and get all famous: this underage quintet from Ogden, Utah included pre-teen banjo picker Matt Flinner (later known for collaborations with folks like David Grier and Tony Trischka, for his own solo albums, and briefly as a member of the jam band Leftover Salmon...) There's also ten-year old fiddler Ryan Shupe who, along with his Rubber Band, had a brief fling in the world of Top Forty country when he had a minor hit in 2005, with the song "Dream Big," and later continued on as a popular regional band. And here they are playing together in their first group, which was organized by Shupe's dad, Ted Shupe, who booked them at various festivals and TV appearances. Oh, I almost forgot: they were really good! Flinner, in particular, is a real whizbang banjo plunker, even though he later switched to mandolin. Take that, Nickel Creek!
The John Penny Band "The John Penny Band" (Belmont Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Terry Sutton)
Bandleader John A. Piantedosi (aka John Penny, 1933-2013) was a longtime fixture on the Massachusetts/New England country scene, leading his own band for many years, ushering numerous pickers through the doors, including this youthful crew that included Terry Sutton playing pedal steel, Chuck Parrish on lead guitar, Jeff Jarvis on piano and drummer Rick Curless, who was also the son of East Coast country legend Dick Curless. In addition to leading a band, Penny was also a booking agent, with Curless one of his best-known clients. Although the band had been around for years, this was apparently the first (and only?) album they recorded -- all classic cover tunes (including a version of "Sixpack To Go") played by an eager young band. A fine example of East Coast twang!
Red Pepper & His Country Hill Billies "18 Country And Western Hits" (Today's Records) (LP)
Absolutely no idea what the story is on this cheapo-exploito album, which includes a bunch of classic honky-tonk and old-school country hits, mid-to-late-1950s stuff like "Why Baby Why," "Sixteen Tons," "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" "Yonder Comes A Sucker," and "It's A Great Life If You Don't Weaken." There may be a couple of originals in the mix as well, but with no songwriter credits, it's hard to tell. The good news is, it's a really fun record -- Pepper kicks things off singing in a chunky Johnny Cash-inspired style, then shifts gear and settles into croaking in an Ernie Ford-esque style, backed by a rugged band with old-school Hawaiian-style steel guitar and an occasional light string section. Also on board is a sadly-unidentified female vocalist who sticks pretty closely to a Kitty Wells-ish sound, and who sings on about half the tracks, including several duets. Sexy cover art, too, though sadly no info on who bandleader "Red" Pepper really was, or about the backing band or the circumstances of these sessions. The label was from New York City, and I'm guessing at a late '50s/early '60s release date, based on a set list packed with songs by Webb Pierce, Faron Young and the Louvin Brothers. Any info would be welcome!
The Peptones "Rimrock Country" (B-Lee Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Blaine Allen)
A mostly-country set from a trio that played the Rimrock Lounge in Portland, Oregon for several years before cutting this album. The group included Judy B., Mike Gangroth and Micki Lee, with help from a few musicians in the studio.
Wayne Perdew "Wayne Perdew" (Artist's Recordings Company) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Brightman)
As a teen way back in 1959, Wayne Perdew recorded a fat-toned rockabilly/r&b single called "Up Beam Baby," and kept himself in the Alabama music scene for years to come, most notably as the co-owner of Shirley and Wayne's Restaurant and Lounge in Mobile. His "all star" band played there for years, well into the late 1980s, and possibly longer, playing a mix of country and pop standards. As far as I know, these LPs were his only two albums; Mr. Perdew passed away in 2015 at age eight-two.
Wayne Perdew "Songs I Like To Sing" (Lynda Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Roger Holmes)
This albumw as recorded in Nashville with a professional crew that included musicians such as guitar picker Gred Galbraith, pedal steel player Doug Jernigan and pianist Benny Kennerson. Along with pop standards such as "Danny Boy" and "Mack The Knife," he also sings country hits like "There Goes My Everything" and "I'm Just And Old Chunk Of Coal."
Bill Perkins & The Midwesterners "Pickin' At Liberty" (Ozark Records) (LP)
Missouri fiddler Bill Perkins with various locals backing him working his way through a mix of country, western swing, old-timey and pop standards -- tunes such as Oklahoma Hills," "Faded Love," "Westphalia Waltz," "A Maiden's Prayer," and "Sweet Georgia Brown." Dunno much else about this one... It looks like it's late 1970s vintage, and was recorded at the Ozark Sound Studio in Columbia, Missouri.
Al Perry & The Countrymen "Souvenir Album, Volume One: I Love You" (Love Studios) (LP)
Al Perry & The Country Folk "Sondrestrom And Thule Souvenir Album: '69-70" (Love Studios, 1970) (LP)
A souvenir album recorded live in Greenland, during a European tour by ex-rockabilly twangster Al Perry and his band... Most of the songs were sung by Al Perry, with other singers including Vern Coldiron, Bill Love, Doris Love and Jimmy Waylon.
Brenda Kaye Perry "Deeper Water" (MRC/Major Recording Company, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Pennington)
The Perry Brothers Band "Just For You" (LP)
This Sacramento, California band included brothers Bill, Marty and Tim Perry, with their father John Perry also participating int he making of this album. The group played mostly around Sacramento, but also throughout the state and occasionally further afield. This record iincludes several cover songs -- stuff like "Sixteen Tons," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" -- but also several originals, most of them credited to Tim Perry. His songs include "Better Run Real Fast," "Honky Tonk Bar Room Queen" and "Wait," while the song "Rose Marie" seems to have been written by his dad.
The Perry Sisters "Feelin' Country" (SV Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Winn)
Siblings Mona and Sally Perry made their first recordings as the Perry Sisters 'way back in the late 'Fifties, with their goofball, girl-group novelty song, "Fabian," coming out on Decca Records in 1959. This disc is a much later effort, a nice, mellow, sorta low-rent DIY set of '70s sunshine country-pop, recorded with help from pickers Kenny Morris and Terry Sutton. Bassist/lead singer Sally Perry sang in an emotive Lynn Anderson style -- she also wrote the album's two original songs, the syrupy, slightly unfocussed "Delta Baby's Tears" and the perkier, more memorable "Mary Ellen Jensen," a catchy story-song about an innocent young girl and a cheating married man, very much in the style of "Harper Valley PTA" or "Ode To Billie Joe." Longtime collaborator Terry Sutton was a stellar pedal steel wizard, playing at a level of sophistication a notch or two above this enthusiastic though sometimes rough-edged album. Sutton had worked with the Perrys since the early '70s, producing a couple of singles on the Sacramento-based Raven Records label, and he adds some really sweet licks throughout this album. Not earthshaking, but charming and authentic. (By the way, these gals are not to be confused with the Southern Gospel band of the same name, which formed in the 1970s, but are no relation...)
Peter & Gordon "Sing And Play The Hits Of Nashville, Tennessee" (Capitol Records, 1966) (CD)
A lot of pop and rock musicians made the trek to Nashville to try their hands at country music, including the English soft-rock duo of Peter Asher and Gordon Waller. Their days in the sun as UK chart-toppers were fast fading by the time this album came out (thus giving them some room to experiment with different styles) but the country thing turned out to be more than a passing fling for Peter Asher. He moved to the United States and became an influential figure in the growth of Southern California's country-rock scene, first by managing an obscure band called Country (also reviewed here) and then, most famously, as Linda Ronstadt's manager and producer, playing the same role for folk-rock superstar James Taylor, and numerous others... So, maybe this album ain't as goofy-sounding as you think!
Dean Peters "In Love" (WRP Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Arnold Rogers & Jack Logan)
Cover tunes galore on this folk-tinged album... Dean Peters was originally from Missouri, though he was working in Chicago when this record came out. The sessions were held in Nashville, with usual-suspect studio pros such as D. J. Fontana, Roy Huskey Jr., Doug Jernigan, Bunky Keel and Bruce Watkins backing him up. One odd, notable inclusion to the lineup is hillbilly old-timer Onie Wheeler, credited as playing harmonica. The songs nclude chestnuts such as Willie Nelson's "Just Pretend I Never Happened," Stewart Hamblen's "Remember Me," Ribbon Of Darkness: by Gordon Lightfoot" and "My Heart Would Know," from the Hank Williams songbook. There's no release date on this album -- it could have been from the later '70s, but I'd guess mid-1980s.
Colleen Peterson - see artist discography
Dewayne Phillips "Texas Rhythm" (Cowpatty Records) (LP)
(Produced by Dewayne Phillips & Rusty Matheny)
I guess Dewayne Phillips was a child prodigy who was on the Wilburn Brothers show in the early '60s and played guitar in the George Jones band at some point. He does a solo set here with a band of his own, sometime in the early-to-mid-1980s, I'm guessing from the clothes and hair. I'm a little skeptical about just how "country" this one is... He covers honkytonk tunes like "Under Your Spell Again" and "Window Up Above," and there is some steel guitar in the mix, but also congas, flugelhorn and sax, so you see where I might be a little concerned. Still, I am quite curious...
Utah Phillips "It's Good, Though!" (Philo, 1973)
Utah Phillips "El Capitan" (Philo, 1975) (LP)
Philo Glee & Mandoline Society "PG & MS" (University Of Illinois Campus Folksong Club, 1962) (LP)
The first of three albums issued in the early 1960s by the University Of Illinois Campus Folksong Club (CFC), this LP was released with a cool picture of the band on the front cover, and nothing on the back, just plain, tan paper stretched over the cardboard, with a sort of a plain-brown-paper-bag look to it, and a Folkways-style booklet added inside. The Mandoline Society (misspelled on the album cover, but not elsewhere) was a trio including University art professor Doyle Moore and two students, Paul Adkins and Jim Hockenhull. The CFC was an influential entity on the American college scene, one of the first clubs formed in the late '50s/early '60s folk revival... The organization hosted concerts by nationally known artists but also reached out to rural musicians in Illinois and nearby regions, and sponsored numerous enthusiastic songcatchers who networked with the locals: several of the songs on this album were learned from folks in neighboring towns. (The label's second LP, GREEN FIELDS OF ILLINOIS, was a collection of songs performed by Stelle Elam, Lyle Mayfield, Cathy and Lloyd Reynolds and other musicians who came into the orbit of the University folk fans.) This record is great. These guys were clearly fans of the New Lost City Ramblers, and perform very much in their style, getting as "bent" and old-timey as they could. The repertoire is a gas, with some great old songs, story-songs, gospel tunes and tall tales... Although they yearned for the past, the PGMS trio also had a sardonic undercurrent, and in a tune or two, I thought I heard a glimmer of the same kind of wry, smartass humor that John Prine would later explore. At any rate, this album is a swell relic of its time, and well worth tracking down.
Sorrells Pickard "Sorrells Pickard" (Decca, 1972)
(Produced by Pete Drake)
This was the first full-length album by Florida-born songwriter Sorrells Pickard (real name: James Bazzell) one of those outsider-insiders who lurked on the peripheries of the Nashville music machine. The album sports warm'n'fuzzy liner notes from Kris Kristofferson, who recalls many late-night jam sessions with Pickard and other other members of what would become known as the "New Breed" of Nashville auteurs. Stylistically, Pickard shares a lot in common with Kristofferson, a rough-cut, growling singer with rambling, poetical lyrics backed -- in this case -- with elaborate, somewhat mismatched orchestrations, with folkie-twang sounds struggling to emerge from the mix. As a performer, Pickard was a pretty uneven vocalist, but he was quite successful as a composer, placing songs with a number of established country stars -- Roy Clark, Del Reeves, Melba Montgomery, Kenny Price, The Statler Brothers and others -- before his big breakthrough backing Ringo Starr on his second album, the country-flavored Beaucoups Of Blues, which also included four songs written by Pickard. Not long after releasing this solo album, Pickard left Nashville for a new career in LA as a Hollywood character actor, and later tried his hand as an entrepreneur, establishing his own brand of Sorrells Pickard peanut-butter. This album certainly captures a certain sound -- the poetic outlaw country sound, filtered through the Nashville studio system -- and along with several usual-suspects studio pickers also has a few interesting folks such as Linda Hargrove and the Cates Sisters singing harmony. All but one fo the songs are Pickard originals -- fans of Kris Kristofferson and Mickey Newbury may find it pretty appealing, though I doubt I'll be coming back to this one any time soon.
Bob Pickering "Appaloosa Rider" (Capitol, 1973) (CD)
(Produced by Whitey Thomas & Bob Pickering)
This is a very odd record, one of those weird, "only in the 'Seventies" major-label toss-offs that skirted the boundaries of both commercial country and the hippie-oriented country-rock. There are some tracks that are clearly twangtunes, but others that are closer to the artful orchestral pop of the late '60s, most of it with an odd, rambling structure that is matched by Pickering's imperfect, idiosyncratic vocals. It took me a while to place the style, and figure out who I was reminded of by this guy's square-peg, half-conversational singing style, and then finally it hit me: this guy was sort of a prototype of alterna-kook Mark Olson who also wrote loosely-structured, somewhat confounding lyrics and sang them in a way that consciously defied the expectations of "pop" performances. At any rate, Pickering -- an Oklahoma native who I'm still looking for more information about -- was following his own muse, and may be of interest to obscuro-music twangfans. One thing's for sure: there aren't many records like this one.
Bobby Pierce "The Fabulous Bobby Pierce And The Nashville Sounds" (Stop, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Pete Drake & Scotty Moore)
Recommended by producer Pete Drake, singer Bobby Pierce was picked as one of the hitherto-unknown songwriters showcased on Ringo Starr's Beaucoups Of Blues album, contributing his tune, "Loser's Lounge," to Ringo's early country outing. This album, recorded aroudn the same time, includes three other Bobby Pierce originals, "The Great Neon Cross," "The Truth Never Hurts" and "What Can You Buy The Man Who Has Everything," along with covers of Merle Haggard and Marty Robbins hits.
Maury Randolph Pigg "Outlaw Gospel, Volume 1" (Pax Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Gary S. Paxton)
Outlaw gospel? Sounds cool to me... especially with Buddy Emmons on dobro and Terry McMillan on harmonica... Could be pretty groovy... I'll let you know when I find out.
Dave Pike "Straight From The Heart" (Belmont Records/John Penny Enterprises, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Pike & Terry Sutton)
This indie album from the Boston area features eight original songs from singer David Pike, along with covers of "Please Help Me I'm Falling" and "Singing The Blues." The backing musicians were basically the John Penny Band, one of Boston's premiere twangbands, featuring steel player Terry Sutton, Chuck Parrish on lead guitar and drummer Rick Curless (son of New England's country king, Dick Curless...) Although the young-looking Pike appears to have been a total 'Seventies dork -- the kind of guy you might hope would have been a Devo fan -- he sang in a deep, resonant neotrad country style, with a voice that's strongly reminiscent of John Anderson. A couple of the songs are too loosely written, though others crafted with a more simple, direct approach are low-key winners.
Earlene Pike "Singing From The Heart" (Zap Records, 1973-?) (LP)
A posthumous homage to singer Earlene Pike (1953-1972) a dynamic artist who passed away just before her nineteenth birthday after a battle with bone cancer. Hailing from Connecticut, the diminutive Ms. Pike was a lifelong performer -- from the age of four she worked as part of her father's family bluegrass band, the Pike Brothers, and she sang on the band's two albums, circa 1968. For this record she tears into a bunch of country stuff, including covers of hits such as "I Still Miss Someone," "I Fall To Pieces," "Crazy Arms," "Go Cat Go" and "Snowbird," with backing by the Pine Hill Ranchers, which was the same group that apeared on the Pike Family recordings. Sadly, the back cover of this album features a picture of her gravestone, bordered by photos taken at various live shows performed with a variety of country and bluegrass artists.
Pine Island "No Curb Service Anymore" (Green Mountain Records, 1976) (LP)
An old-timey/acoustic swing/bluegrass band from Burlington, Vermont, Pine Island was a frequent participant in regional concert shows such as the annual Green Mountain Opry revue, and had been together for several years before releasing this album. Banjo picker Gordon Stone was one of the band's spotlight performers...
Pine Mountain Jamboree "Live On Stage" (1981) (LP)
Dave and Deanna Drennon founded this Ozark music show in 1975, with Eureka Springs, Arkansas as their base of operations. The liner notes for this album promise a program of "good, clean country music and comedy for the entire family" and the songs range from pop oldies like "Mister Sandman" and gospel standards such as "Have A Little Talk With Jesus" and "Let's All Go Down To The River" to a variety of country hits, old and new, including "Rocky Top," "Smoky Mountain Rain," "9 To 5" and Ronnie Reno's "Boogie Grass Band." And, as a family-friendly venue in a former Confederate state, they split the difference on the Civil War's still-simmering legacy by closing things out with a medley of "Dixie" and "Battle Hymn Of The Republic." Unfortunately, the liner notes don't mention who any of the musicians were, so while this may actually be a "various artists" album, it's hard to tell who played what. Alas!
Pine Mountain Jamboree "Thirty And Counting" (2003) (CD)
Dick Pinney & Greg Brown "Hacklebarney" (Mountain Railroad, 1974) (LP)
Midwestern singer-songwriter Dick Pinney was sort of the Pete Best of the contemporary folk scene... Bo and lehold, his early partnership with Greg Brown, who became one of the biggest folk stars of the '80s and '90s, with this album documenting the duo's act, which Pinney looks back on with good-natured equanimity...
Dick Pinney "Devil Take My Shiny Coins" (Mountain Railroad, 1977) (LP)
This is maybe a bit more on the coffeehouse folkie side of the street, but with Cal Hand adding some pedal steel licks, I figure it's worth mentioning... Oh, and Greg Brown pitches in as well, although I think at this point he had officially gone solo...
The Pioneers "By Request" (Fathom Records) (LP)
A group from Oak Harbour, Michigan, with singer Johnny Galvin, who wrote several songs, including "Secret Meeting Place" and "I Tell Myself A Lie." Although they were from the Great Lakes region, these guys traveled to the Pacific Northwest to cut this album at Wiley Sound Studios in Tacoma, Washington.
Joe Pipps "Last Train Ride" (Crazy Cajun, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Huey P. Meaux)
Southeast Texan Joe Pipps worked with producer Huey P. Meaux for a number of years, including a major label album in the early '70s with a band called The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, where he wrote or co-wrote almost all of the songs. He was most successful as composer, including a few tunes that were recorded by Roy Head and other artists.
Joe Pitts "Remembering" (Rich-R-Tone Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Stanton)
This band from Black Mountain, North Carolina included singer Joe Pitts, Ralph Crigger on piano, Roger Kelley playing steel guitar, lead guitarist Red Peterson, bassist Laurence Nave, and drummer Danny Thomas. Pitts wrote three songs on here -- "Don't Lean On Love," Hearts Can Be Broken," and "Five Foot Two And 98 Pounds Of Love" -- all for the House Of David publishing company. There are a couple of other House Of David tracks on here -- "You Took The Most Of Me," written by Ronald Parker, and "I Die A Little Every Day," by Earl Peterson. Also includes are covers of stuff by Hank and Merle, Don Gibson, Johnny Horton, Waylon Jennings, and even an obscure John Hartford tune, "There's Gotta Be More To Life Than You."
Mary Kay Place "The Ahern Sessions: 1976-1977" (Raven, 2001)
A welcome twofer reissue combining two albums recorded by actress Mary Kay Place during her tenure as the TV character Loretta Haggers, on the fabled Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman soap comedy, 1976's Tonite! At the Capri Lounge Loretta Haggers and Aimin' to Please from 1977. A twangy-voiced Tulsa native, Ms. Place -- or should I say Mrs. Haggers? -- had an A-list studio crew backing her up, including members of Emmylou Harris's Hot Band and numerous Nashville heavyweights, with sonic sculpting by Emmylou's best producer, Brian Ahern. The overall sound will be pretty familiar to Emmylou's fans: spacious, round-toned harmonies, rock-friendly twang, traditional honkytonk instruments in a well-defined soundscape, and plenty of sweet picking from the likes of James Burton, Albert Lee and Rodney Crowell, and guest singers that include Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. Some of the songs are better than others: I think they really hit their rhythm on the second album, taking things a little more seriously in some ways than on the first... Highlights include "Vitamin L" (a staple on the Mary Hartman show), a funky cover of Bobby Braddock's "Something To Brag About" and a sublime version of "You Can't Go to Heaven (If You Don't Have a Good Time)," which is probably the best and most sincere song of the set. If you like that whole Hot Band/Happy Sack production style, you'll want to check this one out!
The Plainfolk "Touch The Earth" (Major Recording Company, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by John Major)
Hailing from upstate New York, singers Tom and Joanne Yacovella worked together as a pop-folk duo for many years, including a couple of albums as The Plainfolk... This album includes country standards such as "Cowboy's Sweetheart" and "Green, Green Grass of Home" as well as more contemporary material like "Snowbird," Neil DIamond's "Sweet Caroline" and Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me." Backing musicians includes lead guitar Calvin Gochenour, steel player Ronnie Eyler, Roy Ingram on fiddle and Charlie Swank on piano.
The Plainfolk "Loving Arms" (Pyramid Sound, 1980-?) (LP)
(Produced by Alex Perialis & Tony Volante)
Although the album art looks a little cheesy and rinky-dink, this is actually a pretty good record. The Yacovellas were both pretty good singers -- he, in the rumbly velvet baritone popular in the countrypolitan era and she with a clear, crystalline voice well suited to country-rock AOR covers such as Olivia Newton-John's "Let Me Be There," or her almost too-perfect replication of Linda Ronstadt's version of "Blue Bayou." Other covers include "Silver Wings," "Behind Closed Doors" and "Help Me Make It Through The Night." They aren't terribly original, but the performances are solid and easy on the ears -- indeed, the only track that's really iffy is their version of Roger Whittaker's "The Last Farewell," where the keyboards get just a little too tinkly for me. Otherwise, this ain't bad! There's no date on the album, so it's hard to know exactly when it came out -- Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou" was a hit in '77 and the matrix number on this LP is #8062N4, so I'm gonna float a guess that this is from 1980. Tom...? Joanne...? You out there? Can you confirm or deny?
Robert L. Platt "Please Give Us One More Boom" (1987) (LP)
(Produced by Col. Jimmy Bowen)
An idiosyncratic, uber-indie album by a middle-aged Texas oilman who worked both in the field and as an executive starting out in the early 1960s... Platt sings songs and tells stories about the oil business, including some that tackle the up-and-down, boom-and-bust nature of the business... There's also some straight country material on here as well. Includes songs such as "One Lie Leads To Another," "Bean Counter," "Please Give Us One More Boom" and "Rinding The Crest Of The Slump."
The Plum Hollow Band "Plum Hollow Band" (Plum Hollow Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Reno & Bill Compton)
This longhaired North Carolina twang band featured brothers Larry Baucom (on banjo) and Nelson Baucom (mandolin and bass) as well as Barney Barnwell on fiddle and J. C. Metlak playing lead guitar. Most of the songs are originals, with the Baucom brothers contributing one called "Amarillys" and Barnwell penning five others, including the band's best-known tune, "Hippie Song." They covered Merle Haggard's "Working Man Blues" and a couple by Ronnie Reno (son of bluegrass legend Don Reno) who also helped produce this album. Barnwell, who went on to organize several local music festivals, called his music "electrified bluegrass," or "psychedelic hillbilly music." He died in 2011, followed by Larry Baucom in 2014, though the Plum Hollow music festival continued on after their passing away. Although this is their classic album, in later years Plum Hollow and Barnwell (as a "solo" act) released albums, during the CD era, including Barnwell's Y2K record, Psychedelic Hillbilly.
Plumb Loco "Plumb Loco" (Radiant Star, 1982) (LP)
The Plummer Family "Country Music Show" (Mel-Ran Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Pat Shikany)
A pretty good record!! This family band was a real throwback to the golden era of hillbilly variety shows. Branson old-timers Rosie and Darrell Plummer (along with their daughter, Melodie Plummer Smith) led an old-fashioned country revue show, complete with hillbilly humor (even a hobo sideman nicknamed "Zeke"!) The Plummers moved to Branson in 1972 and in May, 1973 opened their own theater on Highway 76, near the better-known Baldknobbers show, where they had previously performed. They operated the theater until 1990, when Darrell Plummer retired and sold the venue. Randy Plummer, who wrote a fair amount of original material for the band, went on to work in Roy Clark's band and at various Branson venues, as did other family members...
The Plummer Family "In The Ozarks" (American Artists Custom Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Higgins & Winnie Swaim)
Another solid set from this talented family band, mixing country hits, oldies, instrumentals and several originals written by Randy Plummer. These include "Give Him The Best You Can," "I've Never Known Anyone Like You" and "The Texas Range" -- indeed, I'm starting to think someone needs to put together a Randy Plummer album! -- as well as one song written by Harley Clements, "Sorrow Can't Mend A Broken Heart." The cover tunes include 'Seventies hits such as "Behind Closed Doors," "Okie From Muskogee," Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me Lord" and a sultry rendition of Barbara Mandrell's "Midnight Oil." They also sing a version of Jim Ed Brown's "Looking Back To See," though for the most part this album has a more contemporary orientation than many similar "opry" records. Definitely worth a spin!
The Plummer Family "Picking' And Grinnin' "(American Artists Custom Records, 1975-?) (LP)
The Plummer Family "The Old Country Church" (Aardvark Studios, 1977-?) (LP)
(Produced by John Jacobson)
An all-gospel album with plenty of standards, songs such as "Suppertime," "Until Then" and "What A Friend We Have In Jesus," as well as an original written by Randy Plummer, "There Just Ain't No Telling (What All The Lord Can Do)." This edition of the band featured the regular troupe of Plummers, along with Dennis Detwiler on steel guitar, bluegrasser Lonnie Hoppers on banjo, Tim Cagle playing lead guitar, Melodie Plummer Driskill singing and playing piano and fiddle, with her husband Dale Driskill on bass and Rosie Plummer on piano and organ.
The Plummer Family "Country All The Time" (1980) (LP)
This album includes three original tunes: "Where The Beer And Whiskey Flows," "Country All The Time" and "When You Were Here."
The Plummer Family "Country Music Show -- Branson, MO" (Dungeon Records, 1983-?) (LP)
(Produced by Pat Shikany)
Not to be confused with the Mel-Ran album listed above, this was an early '80s offering and a pretty darn good record, to boot!! Well, okay, to qualify that comment, I have to admit that neither of the gal singers do that much for me: Rosie Plummer doesn't sing in tune and Jeannie didn't quite float my boat either, nor did brother Randy Plummer, who I thought was a woman singing when I heard his two tracks(!) However, the other menfolk are all pretty good, delivering robust, soulful vocals on various weepers and novelty songs. The album includes excellent versions of "What She Don't Know Won't Hurt Her," "Somewhere Out In Texas" and Guy Clark's "Heartbroke." There are also some really good instrumental numbers, such as the jazzy, steel-guitar drenched "Jennie's Song," composed by and starring pedal steel player Daryl Davidson, who contributes some superlative and subtle playing. There's also a flashy version of the old-time trick-fiddle chestnut, "Mockingbird," where the band's fiddler really gets into the bird-calls. This edition of the Plummer Family had some real musical firepower to draw on, and this disc's certainly worth a spin. (Note: there's no date on the album, but I'm guessing at a 1982-83 release date based on their cover of "Heartbroke," which was a big hit for Ricky Skaggs in '82)
Poco - see artist discography
Podipto "Podipto" (GRT, 1971)
Ultra-obscuro hippie folk-rock from a Minnesota band originally formed in 1969... This disc mixes folkie rock with Muscle Shoals-ish pop-soul and a few twangy tunes... There's a distinctly '60s-ish sunshine-pop sound on a lot of this album. In some ways it's amazing they landed this semi-major label deal with GRT, but they must have had some drive. That was certainly the case for bandmember Jack Sundrud, who left the band in '73 and went on to a career as a Nashville sideman and songwriter, cofounding the '90s rock-twang band Great Plains and joining a latter-day edition of Poco in the '80s. Funny how that stuff works out! Can't say I was really wowed by this one, but it does have an authentic hippie-era, "Hair" soundtrack kinda charm: possibly most notable is the gooey antiwar weeper, "Karen's Song" as well as the electric guitar freakout of "Mississippi Woman." It's the real deal from the nation's heartland.
Podipto "Homemade" (Minnesota Green, 1973)
Poker Flatts "Poker Flatts" (Stacked Deck, 1977) (LP)
An excellent though obscure country-rock band from Illinois, Poker Flatts is a great example of how much raw talent was bubbling up beneath the radar of the remote, sterile world of Top 40 fame. They were one of the most successful regional groups of the era, though they were never able to crack into the bigtime like contemporary bands such as the Ozark Mountain Daredevils or the Amazing Rhythm Aces. Nonetheless, they crafted some fine tunes that would appeal to fans of bands such as Firefall or Poco. The production on this album is a little rough, but to my way of thinking the unpolished moments are what make it more authentic and resonant, and what bring the craftsmanship of the band into even clearer focus, with several songs that will resonate in your mind after a couple of good listens. "Vampire Blues," "Redneck Daughter," and "Country Life" all tap into the cosmic harmonies of the times, reminding me of AOR gems such as "Aime," while several twang tunes have their charms as well, as does the SF-y funk-rocker that closes the album, "So Good," where they get to flaunt their hard rock chops. This is an archival album that screams out for reissue, a nice collection of tunes that are ripe to be covered by modern-day twangbands. I don't know if any of these guys did anything else professionally, but they sure sounded good, back in day.
The Polish Cowboys "...And Friends" (1979) (LP)
An Iowan trio consisting of Pat Fryer, Bob Rooker and Robbie Wittowski, The Polish Cowboys cut this album live at the Newton Motor Inn's Gypsy Lounge, in Newton, Iowa, not too far from Des Moines. The repertoire is mostly standards -- stuff like "Folsom Prison Blues," "He'll Have To Go," "Lonesome Fugitive" and "You're Lookin' At Country," with one song that might have been an original: "Bar Room Honky Tonk Man."
Bill Pollard "...And The Country Showmen" (Nashville Country) (LP)
Includes original songs such as "Jones Family Tree," "I'm Sneaking Out On You" and "Little Billy, The Gun, And Me."
Chuck Pollard "Chuck Pollard" (Jin Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Avants, Jr)
Good, straightforward honky tonk country from a Louisiana hopeful who had some support from Shreveport's country station, KRMD-AM. Pollard was a fine, robust singer, stylistically midway between Merle Haggard and Conway Twitty, while also paying tribute to the true king of country on one of his own compositions, "I Wish George Jones Would Sing A Song." He also wrote a couple of other songs on here, "Tomorrow You Won't Be My Woman Anymore," "You're My Pot Of Gold" and "You're Leaving Me Again," all fine weepers in the classic hard-country tradition. Pollard also released a couple of singles for MCA but, alas, he never made much traction on the charts. Still, this is a fine record if you enjoy throwbacks to twangier times. Unfortunately, the backup musicians are not mentioned in the liner notes, but there's some nice picking on here as well.
Randy Pollard "I'm Just A Country Boy" (JRS Recording, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Moore, Dick and Joan Pollard)
A set of fiddling tunes from a former championship fiddler from who won several events as a "junior junior" competitor, playing here with backing by a band called the Fiddlin' Express.
Polly And The Playmates "Southern Comfort" (Millwood Records) (LP)
A lively lounge act from Lenoir, North Carolina led by singers Polly Millwood and Ernie Penley... They cover Clapton's "Lay Down Sally," Dolly Parton, Creedence, the Everly Brothers, Mickey Newbury's "American Trilogy," even a little Skynyrd. Depending on your frame of reference, their energetic, electrified performances could seem either hopelessly kitschy or improbably funky... The fortunate, flexible-minded few among us can encompass both ideas at once. I guess I'd call this one a fun record, though if the neighbors caught me listening to it, I might be a little embarassed.
The Pony Express Band "Northern Country" (AudioPhonic, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Jeffrey A. Harman)
Based in Racine, Wisconsin, this popular country band was around for well over a decade, although I think this was their only album. They were still playing regularly as late as 1992; another band with the same name has since popped up in Texas.
Cheryl Poole "Cheryl" (Paula, 1969)
(Produced by Buddy Killen & Don Logan)
I hadn't really thought of the pop-oriented Paula label as being a haven for country music, but it turns out they had quite a nifty roster in the late '60s, including artists such as Mickey Gilley, Nat Stuckey, and this gal from Tyler, Texas. This proved to be her only album, but it sure was a doozy! Fllowing a stint as a teen singer on the Louisiana Hayride, Ms. Poole released a handful of singles dating back to 1966, and with the success of "Three Playing Love," a minor hit that eked its way into the Top 40, she was given the chance to record this groovy, upbeat little album. Musically, it's a nice mix of punchy, Loretta Lynn-style honkytonk and slightly more gogo-delic pop-country, along the same lines as some of Jeannie C. Riley's more rock-oriented material; there's even a mild foreshadowing of Tanya Tucker's sassy-soulful sound in her vocals... all in all, a pretty alluring combination for folks digging into hillbilly fillies history. Poole wrote about half the songs on here (with several of her tunes being selected as singles) and also covers a few classics, tunes like "Kansas City" and Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Also worth noting is "The Skin's Getting Closer To The Bone," a rare composition credited to steel guitarist Weldon Myrick, one of Nashville's most prolific session players -- there aren't any musician credits on here, but I'm guessing that also meant he was on this album. I dunno if Cheryl Poole's career really merits a best-of collection, although I sure would love to hear one, especially if it included all her non-album singles... Anyway, if you get a chance to check this one out, you should definitely go for it.
Sidney Poolheco "The First American" (Kings Universal Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Louis Wright & Ronnie Light)
Back when he was a kid, in the late 1960s, Sidney Poolheco was in an Arizona garage rock band called the Mysterians (not to be confused with the better-known Question Mark And...) along with a couple of his siblings, and some guys from the nearby state university. At the time, he was playing mostly frat rock stuff -- "Wooly Bully," "Land Of A Thousand Dances" -- but there was also a Buck Owens song on their album, and a cover of "Release Me," so his future dedication to country music wasn't that hard to foresee. Fast forward a couple of decades, and that brings us to this album. It's mostly country covers, good stuff too, as well as some original material. There's one song called "Navajo Wrangler," written by Jake Brooks and T. G. Bessire, although according to the info on his earlier album, Poolheco grew up on Hopi lands, near Winslow Arizona. He also became involved in preserving Hopi culture, performing traditional music as well as becoming a painter and carving artist.
Donna Pope "Fair Game" (Lamon Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Carlton Moody & David Moody)
An obscure singer who was featured on the Raleigh, North Carolina "Homer Briarhopper" television show during the 1970s, Donna Pope didn't have what I would consider the greatest voice, although I can hear echoes of the '60s teenpop/girl group style in her work, so maybe she just wasn't that well suited for country stuff. Anyway, even though she doesn't quite resonate for me, there's some nice stuff on here, with rich musical accompaniment by the Moody Brothers band, particularly Jeff Surratt's complex, silky pedal steel. Also notable are several original songs credited to the Laymond Publishing company, which I assume was run by the Moodys. There's one song by Carlton Moody, two by William R. Murray (including the title track) and a pair of standout numbers by Helen Moore, "Left Over Kisses" and "I'll Be Your Woman," with a funny chorus that inadvertently(?) lends itself to interpretation as a lesbian country anthem: ("I'll be your woman/woman loving woman...") Wilma Burgess would be proud!
Pork & The Havana Ducks "Pork & The Havana Ducks" (Havana Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Gregory Riker)
The first album by this oddly named but highly talented band from Champaign, Illinois is a canny blend of Southern rock, white funk and country twang. Lead singer Jerry "Pork" Armstrong was the charismatic heart of the band, projecting a rednecky Southern rock vibe although he was an Illinois native, sort of in a Hank Jr./David Allan Coe mode, with a heavy dose of Muscle Shoals or the Atlanta Rhythm Section in the mix... The group was a strong regional favorite in the late '70s and early '80s, and on this first album they were mostly playing it straight, with a diverse set of songs that were strong enough to plausibly push the band through to national fame, though on later albums they got goofier and seem to have resigned themselves to keeping it local. For country fans, standout tracks are "Pour Another Bottle In The Jukebox" and "The Drummer Calls Her Darling"; the more pop-oriented, disco-tinged ballads are also pretty compelling. A strong album from a polished but off-the-radar band. (Jerry Armstrong, who worked for years as a radio host, passed away in 2004.)
Pork & The Havana Ducks "Two" (Havana Records) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Stockert, Harry Washburn & Pork And The Havana Ducks)
Pork & The Havana Ducks "Pork Live!" (Havana Records) (LP)
(Produced by Harry Washburn, Arnie Rosenberg & Pork)
Pork & The Havana Ducks "Uncle Saz's Barbecue Dance Party (Live At The Wisconsin State Fair)" (1975)
Portland Rose "Portland Rose" (197--?) (LP)
An amiable but amateurish country-oriented bar-band from Salina, Kansas... This trio included singer-guitarist Jack H. Trice III, bass player Tom Cannon and drummer Dean Kranzler, galloping through a spunky set of cover songs that draws on the Eagles ("Tequila Sunrise"), Merle Haggard ("Swingin' Doors," "White Line Fever," "Mama Tried"), Willie Nelson ("Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain") and a couple of rock'n'roll oldies for good measure. The liner notes tout the band's versatility and experience playing, rodeos, weddings and supper clubs, and boasts that they have 140 songs in their repertoire... Still, they're pretty ragged around the edges, with the drummer adding wild fills and extra beats on song after song, and the guitar and bass also a bit wobbly in terms of the meter and melody. It's charming, but a little chaotic, though not outright bad, by any means. (There's no date on the album, but it's definitely a mid-'70s affair... I'm guessing 1975-ish(?) (BTW - the band's name refers to the old Union Pacific passenger line, the Portland Rose, a first-class service that ran from Saint Louis out to the west coast, with a stop at Salina along the way... In 1969, the company cut back service on the smaller stations, including Salina, and was discontinued altogether when Amtrak was established in 1971. Also, it should be mentioned that drummer Dean Kranzler went on to become a music teacher at various central Kansas school, including a staff position at Kansas Wesleyan University.)
Posse "Posse" (AMC, 1980)
(Produced by Jeff Young)
Apparently this was a mellow-sounding country-rock band from Provo, Utah, recording in Menlo Park, California and in Provo... I'm fairly sure that the Jeff Young who produced this set (and wrote some of the songs) is the same Jeff Young from the Pacific Northwest who recorded an album of his own (and recorded on the AMC label as well) Young, who worked on several other albums in the late '70s and early '80s, was a talent to be reckoned with -- his vocals here were pretty rugged even though this band was aiming for a sweet, harmony-oriented sound. He sings most of the lead, although Kay Frances Young (his wife?) sings harmony and lead as well... She's a little too warbly for my tastes, and her showcase number, a cover of "Talking In Your Sleep" ends the album on a low note. The rest of it's pretty good, though: an unassuming, just-plain-folks band playing some pretty solid songs. Young contributes four originals, with two more coming from a guy named Chris Blake (who was not in the band) and some tasty covers of "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "Margaritaville," and Willie Nelson's "Night Life." All in all, a solid indiebilly set. Anyone know more about these folks, and about Young's career, in particular?
Possum "Possum" (Capitol, 1970)
A wild and notably kooky, eclectic band from LA, sort of a jugband-country-hippie mix of Dan Hicks-ian twang, Smothers Brothers folkishness and a Zappaesque musical blender approach... This band was the brainchild of rock'n'roll guitarist Jimmy Baker, with strong contributions from session players Ry Cooder and Red Rhodes. Baker was a psych-pop player who was thick in the Laurel Canyon scene, crashing at Frank Zappa's house in the late '60s and doing session work on numerous albums. Although this record wasn't a big seller, it got a fair amount of attention, although Baker was never quite able to capitalize on it -- his career as a frontman foundered and later projects kept getting shelved as he gradually focussed more on session work and producing. This album as a real doozy, though, with a wicked sense of humor and plenty of legitimate twang... Definitely worth checking out.
Possum Hunters "Death On Lee Highway... And Other Southern Lullabies" (Takoma, 1966) (LP)
(Produced by Charles Hall)
An exemplary old-timey album from some folks in John Fahey's orbit... Banjoist Dave Polacheck, guitarist Graham Wickham and his wife, Ginnie Wickham on fiddle and brother Gurdon Wickham on harmonica and spoons. The band originally formed in 1963 while they were students at UCLA... This is a really solid album, oozing sardonic wit and musical excellence -- the fiddling, in particular, is quite arresting, and often-Gothic repertoire is a gas. Dunno if these folks recorded anything else, but this old album is a doozy. I gues this was their only record, though the Possum Hunters remained active for at least a few more years after this, appearing at folk festivals throughout California, and Ginnie Wickham was performing in the early '70s; Graham Wickham opened a violin shop in Chico, CA, while Dave Polacheck seems to have moved to Austin and become involved in the traditional music scene there... Well done!
Possum Hunters "In The Pines" (Takoma, 1968) (LP)
Gary Poteet "Just A Singin' " (Brylen Records, 1982) (LP)
This was the lone album by Gary Poteet, a robust, deep-voiced singer and piano player who performed locally in Knoxville, Tennessee, including regular gigs at a place called the Corner Lounge, right around the time this album came out. He wears his heart on his sleeve, starting things off sounding just like Waylon Jennings, then slowly settles into a rockabilly-tinged hard-country mode that brings Sleepy Labeef to mind, and even gives a nod to Jerry Lee Lewis. Musically, this was a very strong album, with some wicked lead guitar on a tune or two, and Poteet growling his way through a nice set of country covers, including a version of John Anderson's "Swingin'," which gives the album its title. Unfortunately the album was very poorly mastered and sounds muffled and flat, even though you can tell the original sessions were pretty good -- maybe the master tapes are still out there somewhere? Or maybe it's just my copy? Sadly, the musicians are not identified, so I'm not sure if this was his own band or a hired-hands studio crew... Apparently Mr. Poteet passed away a while ago -- he also recorded a couple of singles on different labels, though I guess nothing really clicked, saleswise. This one's worth a spin, if you can track it down.
Pott County Pork And Bean Band "Spreadin' It" (Pott County Fine Arts, 1975) (LP)
A Kansas City area band which was formed in the late '60s and played regionally for years before recording their first album... Their hometown of Wamego, in Pottawottamee County, Kansas is just east of Topeka, and about as heartland as you can get... Their first album was was recorded after the band had been together for years, and it's a pretty solid hippie-country outing, with strong debts to the Grateful Dead and their offshoot band, the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, both stylistically and in choice of repertoire... Most (maybe all?) of the songs are cover tunes, played with lots of energy and drive, with solid picking that standsout from the DIY/private pressing crowd. The songs include stuff like "Panama Red," from the NRPS, Dylan's "Nashville Skyline," Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," and the Dead's "New Lee Highway Blues..." You kinda see where they were coming from... Not super original, but pretty good overall!
Pott County Pork And Bean Band "Western Electric" (Pott County Fine Arts, 1980) (LP)
On their second album, the Pott County band let their hair down (even more) and embraced a looser, more twang, less rock sound, with more emphasis on bluegrass and western swing-flavored solos, more fiddle, and most of all a powerful lineup of original songs. It's a big change from their first album, and another first-rate hippiebilly album. Worth tracking down, though for now you can find free, clean downloads on the band's website: http://pottcountyporkandbeanband.com
Curtis Potter - see artist profile
Willis Pounds "Will You Still Love Me Come Spring?" (Skaggs Telecommunication Services, 1981-?) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Bonham)
Prairie Biscuit "Prairie Biscuit" (1979) (LP)
This longhaired Northern California band had a heavy Grateful Dead influence, but they also did some decent hippiebilly country, including the novelty song, "Disco Sucks," which amazingly enough is not a cover of the Chuck Wagon & The Wheels classic. The record is poorly produced, though, with very thin sound quality, and maybe not the greatest performances in the world. I imagine this might be of interest to hardcore "jam-band" archivists, with the Dead-like vocals and longer groove tunes, but there's stuff on here for twangfans as well, including some sweet pedal steel by a guy named Gary Lapado and Tracy Nelson-esque vocals from Lori Wells.
Prairie Company "Prairie Tales" (Meadowlark, 1976) (LP)
A folkie band from Valley City, North Dakota with prairie-themed songs such as "Wheatfields and Clover," "The Ballad of Bill Langer," "Big Dakota Sunset" and "Hand Carved Prairie Rose."
Prairie Moon "Now Appearing" (North Wind, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Jay Lewis & Bob Ramsey)
The Colorado duo of Ann Ramsey and Bob Ramsey formed this band in the late 1970s, and kept it together in one form or another for several decades.
Bruce Pratt & The Iron Horse Band "Raton Sunset" (West River Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Terry)
Bruce Pratt " 'Til The Fat Lady Sings..." (West River Records, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by Bruce Pratt & Burt Teague)
Lanny Prewitt & Cinnamon Ridge "That Kind Of Man" (ATR/White Hat Productions) (Date unknown) (LP)
(Produced by Lanny Prewitt)
Guitarist Lanny Prewitt led this short-lived San Diego band, a slick-sounding country-pop group with strains of disco, lounge and country-rock/AOR. It's all original material: Prewitt wrote three of the ten songs, though his compositions aren't the strongest on the album -- of perhaps more interest are three songs credited to K. Munds, who I'm assuming is Southern California local Ken Munds, better known as the lead singer of the Christian country band Brush Arbor, who also had some success as a commerical songwriter, penning the novelty classic, "The Trucker And The U.F.O." as well as the song "Brush Arbor Meeting," which was covered by Charley Pride. All three of Munds' songs here are secular, honky-tonk oriented tunes, and standouts in a somewhat mundane album. Prewitt was a good guitarist but an iffy singer; later he moved to North Carolina and got more into playing jazz. The best musicianship on here, though, is from pedal steel player Jud Sandison, who provides excellent accompaniment throughout... Apparently Sandison was a well-regarded local who didn't record much, but played in clubs -- he certainly sounds great here. There's also some uncredited banjo picking on one track, the Prewitt-penned trucker tune, "Keep The Smokey Off My Donkey": it's possible it was Prewitt plunking the banjo, though I'd guess it was someone on loan from Brush Arbor. Anyone out there know more about this album, like what year it came out, or if it was the same K. Munds as the gospel guy?
Chuck Price "Chuck Price" (Dome Records/Crazy Cajun, 1977/1978) (LP)
(Produced by Foy Lee)
Great album by this Texas country crooner... Chuck Price (1942-2015) lived and worked all over the place -- in Montgomery, Alabama, Nashville, San Diego, and most notably in Houston, Texas, where he was working when he hooked up with label head Huey P. Meaux. The album was actually produced by Foy Lee, but was later credited to Meaux, though I actually doubt if Meaux was in the booth for all of these sessions. The record seems to have been cobbled together from various eras and probably combines some earlier singles with some newer recordings from his Houston days. There's a wide variety of production quality and musical styles, though one constant is Price's sincere, committed performances. On the opening tracks he shows a strong debt to Merle Haggard, but he shifts into a deeper, more boozy feel for later songs, almost sounding a bit like Bobby Bare, for example, on his cover of the Hank Williams oldie, "Half As Much." Most of the songs are downtempo ballads, with a major exeption being the bouncy, giddy "Just For The Heck Of It," which is more in line with the novelty feel of Roger Miller or Buck Owens (and has some sizzling pedal steel and guitar!) One footnote: Price, who passed away in Colorado, was a Vietnam-era Navy veteran who co-wrote the anthemic ballad, "The Unsung Heroes," which he performed annually at the Vietnam Wall memorial in Washington, DC, and which became the official song of the Memory Day event. (Note: This album was recorded in Houston and apparently first released as a private-label indie, then reissued the following year on Huey Meaux's larger Crazy Cajun Records.)
David Price "A Texas Songwriter" (BGM Records, 1984) (LP)
Rich Price "The Singing Sierran" (RPM, 1978)
(Produced by Bill Justis)
California country singer Rich Price -- possibly a real-life cowboy? anyone know his story?? -- assembled an impressive lineup of Nashville studio talent to back him up on this self-released album: names like Pete Drake, Fred Carter Jr., Grady Martin, Charlie McCoy, Buddy Spicher and Weldon Myrick were enough to draw my attention to this obviously-indie LP. And it's kind of what you'd expect, an earnest but not A-list album from a guy who knew what he was talking about, but wasn't quite the kind of singer who could make it in the big time. With the super-duper lineup of studio musicians, you might expect a more robust, wham-bam sound, but producer Bill Justis seems to have decided -- rightly so, I'd say -- not to overwhelm Price's voices with a big, twangy wall of sound. So we really get chance to hear what Price had to offer, which among other things included nearly a dozen original songs, many well-written, earthy tunes that come out of the older country sound of the early 1950s. His voice and his phrasing are flawed, but nonetheless he evokes classic artists such as Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb, as well as Nashville Sound singers like Bill Anderson, when Anderson started to get a little long in the tooth. This music isn't perfect or powerful or flashy, but if you like earnest amateurs such as the Sundowners or Don Walser, guys who put themselves out there in public just because they really loved and understood the music, this album might appeal to you as well.
Pride "Just For You" (Nashville International, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Harold Shedd)
Princess Ramona "On The Wings Of A Dove" (Award Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Biff Collie)
This is the first LP from singer Ramona Kemp, the daughter of a Cherokee tribal leader from Oklahoma, and a darn good yodeler. Flambuoyantly decked out in buckskin, feathers and beads, she played up her Native American heritage and was best known by her stage name, Princess Ramona, and made her recording debut in the early 1960s, releasing a couple of singles produced by her husband, Buddy Kemp. While she started out singing straight country and pop vocals, she shifted decisively into an all-gospel mode later in her career. Although this is considered her secular album, there's gospel material on here as well -- the secular tracks include Elton Britt's "Chime Bells" and (of course) "Indian Love Call." There are a couple of songs written by Buddy Kemp, "Let's Go Back" and "The Mountain" -- he also claims arranger credits on several other tracks. Unfortunately, Princess Ramona's career is often viewed through the irony-tinted lens of hipster record collectors to whom the catnippy combination of gospel music, yodeling and her exaggerated Native American image prove too great to resist. But she was a pretty good singer, and fans of yodeling music, in particular, might want to check her out.
Princess Ramona "Wait A Little Longer Please, Jesus" (Award Records, 19--?) (LP)
Princess Ramona & Buddy Kemp "Talk About Jesus" (Award Records, 197--?) (LP)
The liner notes on this early-Seventies album describe how Mrs. Kemp had a born-again religious conversion while working gigs in Southern California, and how Buddy Kemp sold his camping supply business, customized the large mobile home pictured on the cover, and how the couple set out to proselytize across the country and abroad. The album has a mailing address in Trail, Oregon, but apparently during this period, the Kemps were living out of their RV so they could engage in a musical ministry. Sure sounds hard!
Princess Ramona "Yodeling Praises Unto the Lord" (Award Records, 197--?) (LP)
Speaking of their mobile home, the Gospel Express, the Kemp's literally sing its praises in "This Motor Home Is In God's Hands," which is the album's closing number... Also featured are "God Put A Yodel In My Heart," "Jesus Put A Yodel In My Soul," and "Then I Started To Yodel," as well as "My Lord, My God, My King," which features a backing chorus by the Jordanaires... Also appearing on this album is harmony vocalist Laverna Moore, one of Nashville's more notable professional backup singers. (By the way, thanks to Matt of the CleanNiceQuiet music blog for providing some of the background info on Princess Ramona's colorful career...)
Bob Princeton "Ladies, Loves And Legends" (Tablemountain, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Princeton)
A honkytonker from Denver, Colorado, with a backing band called the Desperados... But honestly, what kind of name is "Princeton" for a country singer?? Anyway, I don't wanna be mean, but I guess I gotta call it like I see it -- this record is pretty painful to listen to... Princeton was not a very good singer... He tries to play up his deep-voiced tones with Johnny Cash and Dave Dudley-style material, but it doesn't take long to realize he just isn't singing in tune. I doubt I could do much better, though, so I won't go into too much detail. I suppose that folks could listen to this album "ironically," but I'm not really into that kind of hipster/sneery mockery, so I will say this: Bob Princeton really did seem committed to his music, and puts his heart into this album. I'm not sure, but I think the band backing him, The Desperados, recorded an album or two of their own -- they don't really put much effort into this one, but maybe they were just punching the clock. Anyhoo, this is definitely a DIY kinda album, though I can't see myself coming back to it very often... The highlight is probably "Woman, You're The Warden To Me," which is a pretty good country novelty number.
John Prine -- see artist profile
The Pringles "Going Home To Colorado" (Denim & Diamonds Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Henry Martin)
Although they recorded this album in Texas, the Pringle family seem to have been from Colorado: there's a mailing address in Gunnison, CO, a teeny tiny town that's sort of between Telluride and Colorado Springs. Anyway, I'm not sure which of the musicians were from which state, though there are a whole slew of Pringles -- Kari, Ryan and Wes, apparently led by lead singer Rod Pringle, who wrote all but one of the songs on this album. (The exception is their cover of "Orange Blossom Special," which features some fancy fiddling courtesy of Mark Kalson, a child prodigy from Peasall, Texas previously heard on The Kalson Family's own album...) The general vibe here is a soft-pop country rock sound, with some gooey, soul-searching lyrics that drift into folkie territory that's vaguely reminiscent of John Denver. There's also a decent amount of twang, and although I wouldn't personally classify this as an album I'd come back to for fun, it's certainly worth knowing about, particularly if you're specifically into Colorado-local artists.
The Tony Pritchett Band "The Tony Pritchett Band" (Encore Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by The Tony Pritchett Band)
Folk-tinged country, or country-flavored folk? This band from Smyrna, Georgia had a nice, mellow sound... Kind of reminds me of Harry Chapin, though maybe with a bit more grit, including some very subtle pedal steel that plays nicely off of Pritchett's distinctive vocals.
The Procks "At Lake Of The Ozarks" (1974-?) (LP)
A surprisingly satisfying, rootsy set from one of the many mom'n'pop bands playing in one of Missouri's once-numerous country variety shows... Although the husband-wife team of Gerald and Elnora Prock were both Missouri natives, they met and married in Fresno, California, where she grew up and he was visiting in the late '50s, when she was singing in her brother's band. The Procks formed a duo and played shows up and down the West Coast before moving back to Missouri in 1969. They landed a regular gig at Gold Nugget Junction, one of the many Lake Of The Ozarks theme parks, and brought several Fresnans along with them as their band. Old-timey fiddler/banjo picker Bill Hunter was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Fresno, co-founding the Music Farmers stringband, while guitarist John Blair and Jim Ward were also from Fresburg, although the group's drummer, Gary Alexander (Gerald and Elnora's son) is the only bandmember who was born there. They sound great together, and though they cover a few early '70s songs, like "Satin Sheets" and "Country Roads," it's the old-timey music that stands out... Fans of golden age duos such as Curley Fox & Texas Ruby, or Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, might find a lot to enjoy on this album.
Charlie Pruitt "Half-Live In Nashville, Tennessee" (1980) (LP)
After recording this album in Nashville, singer Charlie Pruitt returned home to Texas where he took a stab at managing and producing other local artists, a path that led him to starting his own country music variety show, in Beaumont, Texas. Though the show originally had mostly local children as performers, over the years it became more professional and played host to many up-and-coming country starts, including fellow Texans such as Tracy Byrd and Mark Chesnutt. I believe this was Pruitt's only album, and includes songs such as "Truck Driving Woman," "The Game Of Give And Take" and "It Takes All Kinds To Make A World."
Jerry Prunty "Jerry Prunty's American Music Jubilee" (BOC, 197-?) (LP)
Helming one of the countless mom'n'pop musical revues spawned in the Ozarks, bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Jerry Prunty used Osage Beach, Missouri as his home base, although he toured throughout the Midwest and South with this youthful ensemble. There are a couple of songs on here that fit into the country tradition -- "Elvira" and a version of the gospel standard "I'll Fly Away" -- but most of the music draws on a wide swath of American popular music, notably pop standards and rock'n'roll oldies. This edition of the band included numerous singers and pickers, as well as a trumpet player and a gal named Dorla Stewart on pedal steel, along with singers Tim King and Cindy Lou Fisher, lead guitarist Wayne Vaughn and Prunty anchoring the band on drums. This album is often listed as "sometime in the 'Seventies," it was actually an early'80s production: the Jubilee was a family-run business founded in 1982, and kept it in business through the end of the 1990s. Prunty later worked with outfits such as the Missouri Opry, where he led a 'Fifties rock nostalgia roadshow. Earlier, as a teen, Prunty worked in the Illinois-based Lamoine Valley Opry Show, and the original Ozark Opry Show, also at the Lake Of The Ozarks.
Jerry Prunty "Jerry Prunty's Country Jubilee" (BOC, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Brad Edwards)
At some point, Jerry Prunty decided to narrow his focus to a twangier repertoire, and some copies of this album (including mine) have stickers proclaiming it to be "Jerry Prunty's Country Jubilee Show," covering over the original American Music Jubilee name. He still included standards such as "In The Mood" as well as an odd version of "New York, New York" and a rock-oldies medley, but various brands of country fill out most of the record, including two Ray Pennington songs ("Happy Tracks" and "Walkin' On New Grass"), Kris Kristofferson's "One Day At A Time" and Rusty Weir's "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance," as well as a little gospel, with a version of Alfred A. Brumley's "I'll Fly Away." There's also an original written by Jerry Prunty, "Music In Your Smile." The liner notes don't list members of the backing band (although there is a photo of "the Prunty Sisters," three adorable little moppets who look like they ranged from about three to eight years of age, and who sing on a couple of tracks...) Signatures on the album include Diane Bettis, Mike Engel and Don Shelton, though I can't say whether they were on the actual album, or just working the live show at the time.
Paul Puckett & The Country Folk "Riders In The Sky" (Tad Records) (LP)
This Nashville indie outing seems to have been a collaboration between singer Paul Puckett and steel guitar session man Speedy Price, who appears in photos with Puckett on the front and back covers and wrote two of the songs on the album, even though the liner notes don't idenify him as one of the musicians. It's pretty decent, straightforward material, soft honkytonk with a few dips into folk-country material such as covers of "Leaving On A Jet Plane" and "Take Me Home Country Roads." The rest of the record does not, thankfully, sound like a John Denver album, though, and some of the original tunes are pretty nice. Puckett's wife, Joni, sounds like a dead ringer for Emmylou Harris, with a bit of Kitty Wells' rural edge in there as well. Not dazzling, but sincere and real, a modest, heartfelt offering from DIY Nashville.
Pulleybone "Pullin' Together" (Brylen, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Brien Fisher)
Ken Smith's group, Pulleybone, was Bobby Bare's backing band in the early 1980s, letting their hair down on a hard-rocking "solo" set which includes a comer of the Merle Haggard oldie, "Swinging Doors," Chip Taylor's "Clean Your Own Table," a couple by Bob McDill and three songs written by Bobby Reed, who wasn't in the band, but must have been one of their buddies back in Texas. Definitely worth a spin, especially if you liked how the band sounded on Bobby Bare's classic "Drunk And Crazy" album.
Pure Prairie League -- see artist profile
The Putnam County Pickers "...It's About Time" (Rose Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Al Shackman)
An eclectic quartet from Culloden, West Virginia, playing a blend of folk-country, bluegrass and swing-string too... The repertoire includes several songs by Rusty Wells, along with two each by Steve Hill and Ron Sewell, as well as a cover of Mike WIlliams's "Sad South Texas Blues." The bandmembers trade off on singing lead and playing various instruments -- switching on bass or guitars, etc. -- and generally seem to have been pretty democratic about the whole thing. The band was formed in 1974 and stayed together through 1981, with a brief detour as the "Stark Raven Band" before officially breaking up in the early '80s. This album made a mighty fine legacy!
Hick Music Index