Are you a George Jones guy in a Garth Brooks world? A Loretta Lynn gal trying to understand why people still call Shania Twain a "country" artist?

Well, then this website is for you! Here's your chance to read all about Nashville pop, from the late-'50s "Nashville Sound" and the countrypolitan scene of the '70s to today's chart-toppers and pretty-boy hat acts, seen through the lens of DJ Joe Sixpack, a hick music know-it-all with a heart of gold...

Your comments and suggestions are welcome, particularly suggestions for artists or albums I might have missed. Other types of twang are reviewed elsewhere in my Hick Music Guide.

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Pearl River "Find Out What's Happening" (Liberty, 1993)


Pearl River "Pearl River" (Liberty, 1994)


Danielle Peck "Danielle Peck" (Big Machine, 2007)


Dave Peel & Connie Eaton "Hit The Road Jack" (Chart, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Cliff Williamson)


Peggy Sue "Dynamite!" (Decca, 1969) (LP)
With a strong vocal likeness to her well-known older sister, Loretta Lynn, 22-year old Peggy Sue Wells had both a leg up and a mark against her when it came to making it big in Music City. Comparisons were inevitable, and Loretta sure is a hard act to follow... Nevertheless, this is a fine album, and Peggy Sue should hardly be seen as having ridden in on her sister's coattails -- she had plenty of talent on her own. She wrote many of the songs on here, including winners such as "You Can't Pull The Wool Over My Eyes," along with several others co-written with Big Sister. One way they tried to make he sound distinctive was with the liberal use of fuzzed-out electric guitar and other mildly psychedelic instrumentation... Works for me! Of course, who could have suspected that it would be their other sister, Crystal Gayle, who would be the other big star in the family? Anyway, track this disc down if you can; if you're a fan of Loretta, then this spunky set will make your toes tap as well!


Peggy Sue "All-American Husband" (Decca, 1970) (LP)
Another cool album by this now-neglected hick music heroine... This disc has a feisty feminist bent to it, and includes Peggy Sue's version of "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin'," which she co-wrote with Loretta, along with plenty of other top-notch tunes, by brand-name songsmiths such as Hank Cochran and Joe South, as well as lesser known writers like Maxine Kelton ("Apron Strings") and Julie Ann Beisbier, who wrote the catchy, sassy title tune. Recommended -- and overdue for a digital era re-release!


Peggy Sue "I Just Came In Here" (Doorknob, 1977)


Peggy Sue & Sonny Wright "Gently Hold Me" (Big R, 1981) (LP)


Peggy Sue & Sonny Wright "One Side Of Peggy Sue/One Side Of Sonny Wright" (Circle, 1982)


Ray Pennington "...Sings For The Other Woman" (Monument, 1970) (LP)


Ray Pennington "Memories" (Dimension/Step One, 1983)
(Produced by Ray Pennington... "and the Nashville Music Community")

A later effort from songwriter Ray Pennington, who started out as a go-to guy at King Records in the 1950s, and had a hit-or-miss record as far as his own career went... Side One of this album is almost impossibly, unbearably over-orchestrated, but he gets a little rootsier on Side Two, and it's a lot better when he lets the twang back in. His vocals are not good on the pop material, but he stays more in tune when he's really singing country. Most of this record is awful, but there are a few nice tracks, including the uptempo "Nothing To Go On" the Waylon-esque "Sweet,Sweet Woman" and the syrupy but heartfelt gospel number, "You Saved Me From Me." Pennington wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on here, including a couple with Dave Kirby, who also plays guitar on here. Worth checking out, I suppose.


Ray Pennington & Buddy Emmons "Swingin' From The '40s Thru The '80s" (Step One, 1984) (LP)


Ray Pennington "Dear Lord, I've Changed (Since I've Been Unchained)" (Step One, 1987)
A gospel set...


Ray Pennington & Buddy Emmons "Swingin' By Request" (Step One, 1994) (LP)


Ray Pennington & Buddy Emmons "It's All In The Swing" (Step One, 1994) (LP)


Ray Pennington & Buddy Emmons "Goin' Out Swingin' " (Step One, 1997) (LP)


Perfect Stranger "You Have The Right To Remain Silent" (Curb, 1995)
(Produced by Clyde Brooks)

Well, they may not have been the greatest band ever -- singer Steve Murray is kind of, um, so-so -- but they have a refreshing confidence in the power of simple, dopey, fun novelty songs... This disc is a welcome throwback to the days when you could scan a country album's song titles and have a pretty good idea of what the record inside would sound like... Tunes like "It's Up To You," "One More Reposession," "Even The Jukebox Can't Forget" and "Cut Me Off" all pretty much deliver what they promise... And besides, anyone who does a revival/cover of the old Webb Pierce hit, "I Ain't Never" is alright by me. They may've been a little slack in the chops department, but these guys had their hearts in the right place. (By the way, I believe this album was originally released on an indie label, and picked up by Curb later on...)


Perfect Stranger "The Hits" (Curb, 2001)
The second album by this amiable also-ran band is, in many ways, a throwback to the flowery awkwardness of '70s countrypolitan, with whiffs of Glen Campbell wafting up between the soft-edged modern honkytonk riffs. The clever title track is pretty funny, especially since "hits" are what (unsurprisingly) elude this band; other notable songs include "Fire Away," in which the singer dares his boss to give him the sack, and "You Have The Right To Remain Silent," which is reprised from their first album. Singer Steve Murray doesn't have a perfect voice, but he does have an appealing air of sincerity, and while these guys have trouble building up real momentum, they're still likeable in an inoffensive kinda way... Not great, but not stinky, either.



Colleen Peterson - see artist discography


Michael Peterson "Michael Peterson" (Reprise, 1997)
(Produced by Robert Ellis Orrall & Josh Leo)

An enjoyable, upbeat set of twangy tunes, anchored by thumping drums, perky melodies and the occasional high, tight harmony, and Peterson's confident, cheerful vocals. This is a brightly, cheerfully produced album, opening with the super-catchy "Lost In The Shuffle" (a not-too-subtle play on words regarding country line dancing... ) and has a few other fun, uncomplicated tunes like "Too Good To Be True" and "I Finally Passed The Bar," a fun duet with Travis Tritt... and the usual assortment of cheesy ballads as well... You can easily see why this guy scored a big hit straight out the gate... Wonder what happened after that?


Michael Peterson "Being Human" (Reprise, 1999)
(Produced by Robert Ellis Orrall & Josh Leo)

Oh. I see. He got cheesy. Well, not overly cheesy, I guess... Just overly safe, and overly controlled. I mean, for factory-made Nashville stuff, this is relatively lively material, but it's not really that much fun. It's like there's this big, bumptuous Jerry Jeff-ish boy, who's gotten buried under a bunch of slick production and by-the-numbers songwriting. Peterson wrote or co-wrote most of these songs, but producer Robert Ellis Orrall, a firmly entrenched tunesmith himself, has a finger in a bunch of them as well, and his prefab approach is readily apparent. It's okay, but I think Peterson could have done much better. Then again, maybe not... maybe this is exactly the album he meant to make. I read somewhere that Peterson had a previousl career as a "motivational speaker," and sure enough this album, more than his previous one, has a few songs with a definite spiritual-philopsophical undercurrent that may help explain its appeal to a modern Top Country audience. I personally could do with a little more grit, but overall this is tolerably twangy.


Michael Peterson "Super Hits" (Warner Brothers, 2000)


Michael Peterson "Modern Man" (AGR, 2004)


Michael Peterson "Down On The Farm" (Midnight Music, 2006)


Ray Peterson "Country" (Decca, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Johnson; arrangements by Bill Walker)

Yes, indeed, it's that Ray Peterson, the same teenpop singer who had a 1960 hit with "Tell Laura I Love Her," and was considered part of the last wave of '50s rockabilly artists. This is a Nashville record, but not really all that "country," at least not to my way of thinking. Peterson croons in a Jim Reeves/Marty Robbins style, amid some pretty florid pop-countrypolitan arrangements. What drew me to this album was the inclusion of nearly a half-dozen Carl Belew songs, Belew being a country crooner whose work I admire... Peterson's covers of Belew's best? Mmmm... not so much. Also of interest are a couple of songs penned by Betty Jean Robinson, including the jaunty "Let's Wash The World And Make It Clean," which I guess would be my pick off this disc.



Bill Phillips - see artist discography



Stu Phillips - see artist discography


Kellie Pickler "Small Town Girl" (BNA, 2006)


Kellie Pickler "Kellie Pickler" (BNA, 2008)
The second album by former American Idol contestant Kellie Pickler. The opening tracks, including the hit, "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" are pure, '90s-style pop -- calling them "country" seems kind of silly, but hey, nobody asked me. Pickler puts some twang in her voice and brings in a bit of fiddle'n'steel for the next few tunes, and projects an amiable presence. Not a lot here that I'd go wild over -- mostly prefab country-pop, with laboratory-tested melodic hooks, grandiose key changes galore and goofy, synthy filligrees that make it all seem so sterile. Still, Pickler is comfortable with the setting, much more so than on bluesy, thumpy "bad girl" anthems like "Lucky Girl," territory that's better left to folks like Gretchen Wilson or Carlene Carter. If you're a Pickler fan, you won't be disappointed; if you prefer Waylon, Loretta or Hank, you might wanna give this a pass.


Kellie Pickler "100 Proof" (BNA/19 Recordings, 2012)


Pinmonkey "Speak No Evil" (Drifter's Church, 2002)


Pinmonkey "Pinmonkey" (BMG, 2004)


Pinmonkey "Big Shiny Cars" (Universal/Back Porch, 2006)
(Produced by Mark Bright & Pinmonkey)

These guys started out a few years back with a couple of random, fluke hits that landed in the middle of the Billboard charts; now their knack for catchy melodies has matured, and they are, I'd have to say, one of the more interesting commercial country bands around. Singer Michael Reynolds has a thin, tremulous, almost girlish voice that has some of the same emotional immediacy (and vocal tone) as Rodney Crowell -- it's an acquired taste, but if you give him a chance, you might really enjoy his sincerity and ability to convey the meaning of his lyrics. The album starts strongly, particularly with "Coldest Fire In Town" (a fine honkytonk duet with Elizabeth Cook) then loses focus midway through, only to recover with a rousing version of Bruce Robison's "Wrapped," followed by the surprisingly slow, introspective title tune. Pinmonkey's fine-line balance between tremble and twang is kind of a risky move, commerically, but I'm sure they will only continue to gather more fans as time goes on... This is their best album yet, and shows them mining a vein of plaintive heartsongs and country-rock melodicism that seems fresh and pure in the current era of factorymade hits. Worth checking out!


Pinmonkey "Pinmonkey" (BNA, 2009)


Pirates Of The Mississippi "Pirates Of The Mississippi" (Capitol, 1990)


Pirates Of The Mississippi "Walk The Plank" (Capitol, 1991)


Pirates Of The Mississippi "A Street Man Named Desire" (Liberty, 1992)


Pirates Of The Mississippi "Dream You" (Liberty, 1993)


Pirates Of The Mississippi "The Best Of The Pirates Of The Mississippi" (Liberty, 1994)


Pirates Of The Mississippi "Paradise" (Giant, 1995)


Pirates Of The Mississippi "Heaven And A Dixie Night" (CBUJ, 2006)


Pistol Annies "Hell On Heels" (Columbia, 2011)
(Produced by Frank Liddell, Mike Wrucke & Glenn Worf)

A twangy, bouncy, boisterous set from country superstar Miranda Lambert and a couple of her pals, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, two singers who have been kicking around in the Nashville studios for the past few years. The trio has a nice sound, with plenty of sweet harmonies woven into their sassy, bad-girl vibe... I imagine this side-project is a big relief for Ms. Lambert, who's always peppered her albums with rowdy songs, but must be under a lot of pressure to make her own records more salable and formula-driven: you'd never hear this much cussing on a Top 40 station, but here she can cut loose and have a little fun. We can, too, singing along to songs like "Takin' Pills," "Lemon Drop" and "Trailer For Rent." Pretty fun stuff! A nice surprise from Nashville, for sure.


Pistol Annies "Annie Up" (Sony Nashville, 2013)
Hell, yeah!


Gene Pitney & George Jones "George Jones & Gene Pitney" (Musicor, 1965)
In 1965, when Jones was moved decisively over to the Musicor label, one of his first projects was a duets album with cricket-voiced teen idol Gene Pitney, who was at that time the hottest act on the label. It seemed an unlikely pairing, but it produced two albums, both cut the same year, George Jones And Gene Pitney and It's Country Time Again, each of which produced some moderate chart action, and led to a third LP of hillbilly material by Pitney, called The Country Side Of Gene Pitney. It's hard to shake Pitney's image as a chirpy, melodramatic teenpop crooner, but after a while his country side seems fairly plausible. After all, he sounds quite a bit like Hank Locklin in his youth, so what's to get riled up about, really? Although a few songs, like the novelty-tinged version of "Mockingbird Hill," sank to the kitschy depths many naysayers predicted, other tracks have surprising resonance and grit, and it's kind of fun to listen to, after a while... Certainly a change of pace in George's career.


Gene Pitney & George Jones "It's Country Time Again!" (Musicor, 1965)


Gene Pitney & Melba Montgomery "Being Together" (Musicor, 1966) (LP)
(Produced by Pappy Daily & Gene Pitney)

Pitney also recorded with honkytonk gal Melba Montgomery, an unlikely pairing, but with some interesting moments. There's a curious Everly Brothers-y quality to their duets. The studio dial twisters tend to favor Pitney's vocals (which is to be expected, since he was the bigger star) but Mongomery adds a lot of country cred. It's mildly jarring when they trade off verses -- Pitney's strangled frog voice next to Melba's truckstop waitress drawl, but the harmony parts are quite nice. A little off-kilter, but interesting.


George Jones & Gene Pitney "The Complete '60s Duets" (Varese Sarabande, 2005)
Amid all the business wrangling and horse trading that went on during the history of the Musicor label, which was intertwined with United Artists in the early '60s and then went indie mid-decade, poor ol' George Jones was batted about like like a ping-pong ball in a typhoon. In 1965, he was moved decisively over to the Musicor label, and one of his first projects was a duets album with cricket-voiced teen idol Gene Pitney, who was then the hottest act on the label. It seemed an unlikely pairing, but it produced two albums, both cut the same year, George Jones And Gene Pitney and It's Country Time Again, each of which produced some moderate chart action, and led to a third LP of hillbilly material by Pitney, The Country Side Of Gene Pitney. This CD gathers all the duets off those albums (and leaves out several solo vocal numbers, which can be heard on a more complete collection on the Bear Family label...) Although a few songs, like the novelty-tinged version of "Mockingbird Hill," sank to the kitschy depths many naysayers predicted, other tracks have surprising resonance and grit. It's hard to shake Pitney's image as a chirpy, melodramatic teenpop crooner, but after a while his country side seems fairly plausible. After all, he sounds quite a bit like Hank Locklin in his youth, so what's to get riled up about, really? This is clearly not Jones' best work -- Pitney actually overshadows him on all but a few tracks -- but this disc is still worth picking up, if nothing else, for its historical value.


Poco "The Very Best Of Poco" (Sony Legacy, 1999)
A nice look at the early years of these transitional country-rock pioneers, culling light, perky twang tunes from their 1969-73 albums, recorded for Epic Records... Of these oldies, perhaps "Good Feelin' To Know" is the best-known song -- the mega-hits didn't really kick in until they jumped ship over to another label, but this early stuff is cute and quaint in its own special way, and other than the obligatory live album, pretty listenable... Remarkable to realize that many of these guys moved on to be movers and shakers in AOR monster bands such as Loggins & Messina and The Eagles, and yet they sounded so innocent and harmless here...! Worth checking out.


Prescott-Brown "Already Restless" (Sony, 1994)
A country trio singer Tracey Brown and her brother Barry Brown (both originally from the popular Canadian family band, The Family Brown, whose popularity peaked in the 1970s and '80s) and Tracey Brown's husband Randall Prescott. Tracey Brown also recorded a couple of solo albums after this group broke up.


Elvis Presley "Elvis Country (Legacy Edition)" (Sony Legacy, 2012)
A twofer reissue of two roots/country-oriented albums Presley recorded at the height of the countrypolitan era, Elvis Country, and Love Letters From Elvis, both from from 1971. Super-duper over-the-top, cornball pop-country arrangements and weird, schmaltzy vocals from the King. He sort of sounds like Charlie Rich, but less sincere; the most interesting aspect of the Country album is the early '70s studio crew, which included several RCA heavy-hitters such as guitarist Jerry Reed, who added some wicked slide guitar on an otherwise lackluster cover of "Whole Lotta Shaking Going On." (I had to check the liner notes and make sure it wasn't actually Duane Allman playing lead...) Includes both then-current hits and then-classic oldies: if you ever wanted to hear Elvis sing "Snowbird," here's your chance.



Kenny Price - see artist discography



Ray Price - see artist discography



Charley Pride - see artist discography


Rachel Proctor "Where I Belong" (BMG-BNA, 2004)
(Produced by Chris Lindsey)

Her first album was a long time in coming -- a couple of poorly-performing singles were floated the year before, and then she finally struck gold with "Me And Emily," a divorced-mommy tableau that I found a little depressing, but which pulled Proctor up into the Top 20. So, the record finally came out, and the good news is that there are some pretty nice songs on here, sandwiched in between the glossy would-be Martina McBride type numbers. I liked the more traditional-sounding, upbeat tunes, songs like "Shame On Me" and "I'm Gonna Get You Back," which have a Tanya Tucker-ish sassiness. The ballads, packed with tinkly pianos and smothering schmaltziness, are pretty insufferable... I mean, really, a song like "If That Chair Could Talk" is just so absurdly belabored and contrived... But y'know... no one asks me about stuff like that before they put it on their album... Anyway, this is a mixed bag -- Proctor's not a great singer, by any measure, but she does have an appealing quality that may do her in good stead over the years to come. Nice, too, that she wrote about half the songs on here... I wish her all the best!


Rachel Proctor "Where I Belong" (Self-Released, 2007)


Rachel Proctor "What Didn't Kill Me" (Self-Released, 2009)



Jeanne Pruett - see artist discography



Pure Prairie League -- see artist profile


Curly Putman "The Lonesome Country Of Curly Putman" (ABC, 1967) (LP)


Curly Putman "Curly Putman's World Of Country Music" (ABC, 1969)
(Produced by Paul Cohen)


Curly Putman "The Lonesome Country Of Curly Putman/Curly Putman's World Of Country Music" (Omni Recordings, 2013)
A re-release of two albums that Nashville songwriter Curley Putman recorded for the ABC label, 1967's The Lonesome Country Of Curly Putman and Curly Putman's World Of Country Music, from 1969. Putman is best known for composing "The Green, Green Grass Of Home," a big hit for Porter Wagoner in 1965 that went on to become a country standard. He also co-wrote classics such as Tammy Wynette's ""D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today," possibly the weepiest George Jones song ever. Like a lot of songwriters, Putman enjoyed only marginal success as a performer -- he had a couple of singles from his first album that almost cracked the Top 40, but not quite. Nothing charted off of the sleepily-arranged second album, but that was okay -- the hits kept coming anyway, and Putman's name pops up all over the place on many excellent '70s albums. Here's a chance to hear him singing his own stuff... if only they'd been able to add a few of his stray, non-album singles as well!


Curly Putman "Write 'Em Sad: Sing 'Em Lonesome" (2010)




Commercial Country Albums - Letter "Q"



Hick Music Index



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