Hi, there! This page is part of an opinionated guide to what I call "hard country" music -- the real stuff -- with a bunch of record reviews and recommendations by me, Joe Sixpack. Naturally, it's a work in progress, and will hopefully be expanded on quite a bit, as time allows.


This is the first page covering the letter "D"




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Ted Daffan "I've Got $5 And It's Saturday Night" (Binge Discs, 2001)
Songwriter Ted Daffan was a popular hillbilly star of the 1940s, best known today for having written "Truck Driver's Blues," which was country music's first "trucker" song (back in 1939!) and for having penned Faron Young's smash hit, "I've Got Five Dollars And It's Saturday Night," and the classic "Born To Lose." This disc collects over twenty of Daffan's own recordings, made for Okeh and Columbia between 1940-1950. It's real-deal hick music, but I gotta say, Daffan's voice doesn't do much for me. This is a great document of a once very influential country star, but I'd recommend listening to it in small doses, or as part of a mix of various artists. Great sound quality, though: another classy release from the Binge Disc label...


Ted Daffan "Born To Lose" (Jasmine, 2004)
This album includes his big hit, "Born To Lose," along with a slew of songs not included in the earlier Binge Disc release. Indeed, out of two dozen tracks, barely a handful are also included on the other CD. If you dig Daffan, you'll wanna get 'em both!


Ted Daffan "Gonna Get Tight Tonight" (BACM, 2005)
(Available through the British Archive of Country Music website.)


Vernon Dalhart "Lindberg, The Eagle Of The USA" (BACM, 2005)


Dick Damron "More Than Countryfied: Early Recordings 1959-1976" (Bear Family, 2011)
A 3-CD set exploring the work of Canadian country star Dick Damron, from his rockabilly roots to his country years, working in Nashville. Expect the usual high-class Bear Family archival treatment: copious liner notes and great sound quality.



Charlie Daniels -- see artist discography



Donna Darlene -- see artist profile



The Dave & Deke Combo - see artist discography


Hank Davis "One Way Track" (Bear Family, 2012)



Jimmie Davis -- see artist discography



Skeeter Davis - see artist discography


Jimmy Day "Golden Steel Guitar Hits/Steel And Strings" (Bear Family, 1992)
A reissue of two early '60s albums by steel guitarist Jimmy Day, who was in Ray Price's band, and later Willie Nelson's... The albums, Golden Steel Guitar Hits and Steel And Strings, came out on Mercury Records in 1961 and '62, and have all the hallmarks of cheesy Pop production of that era -- swooping vocal choruses and lush, milky string arrangements. Still, connoisseurs of steel guitar music may want to check this out, just for the soulfulness of Day's performances, even underneath the layers of cheese,


Eddie Dean "The Late And Great Eddie Dean" (Binge Discs, 2000)


Eddie Dean "The Golden Age Of Eddie Dean" (Binge Discs, 2000)
Fun, rare singles from country crooner Eddie Dean, who's remembered as a "singing cowboy," but who obviously dipped into harder-edged hillbilly and honkytonk material from time to time. A Texan who cut his teeth performing in the Midwest, Dean headed for Hollywood in the late 1930s, and wound up singing with actress Judy Canova, and later with an edition of the fabled Sons Of The Pioneers. Dean wrote a lot of his own material, and had two big hits to hang his hat one. "One Has My Name, The Other Has My Heart" is a marvelous heartsong standard from 1948 -- a few years later, he recorded the original version of "I Dreamed Of A Hillbilly Heaven," a novelty classic that, sadly, is not included on this disc. Still, fans of the sentimental old stuff will enjoy this album... Dean's dusty baritone can get a little corny at times... But this is fine, old-fashioned country, recorded on a variety of independent labels, mostly back in the late '40s... Definitely worth checking out!


Eddie Dean "On The Banks Of The Sunny San Juan" (Soundies, 2000)
Stylistically, these transcription recordings are as close to crooners like Bing Crosby as they are to rougher, tougher country singers. It's mostly pretty corny material; Dean later had a bit more bite to his tunes, with a heavier dose of honkytonk style thrown in on top. Some of the later tracks on here, when he gets deep into the singing cowboy stuff, is pretty sweet.


Eddie Dean "The Very Best Of Eddie Dean: The Shasta Masters" (Varese Sarabande, 2000)
Iffy, or at least mediocre, later recordings made in the 1970s for Jimmy Wakely's independent Shasta label. Kinda perfunctory, but okay for the genre. Dean had a little more gas in his tank at this point than some of the other old-time singing cowboys, so this disc has its moments.


Eddie Dean "1501 Miles of Heaven" (Roots Of Country, 2001)


Eddie Dean "Dusty Old Saddle" (BACM, 2005)



Jimmy Dean -- see artist discography


Delmore Brothers "Freight Train Boogie" (Ace, 1993)
The late-'Forties/early 'Fifties "hillbilly boogie" phenomenon found its highest expression in these guys' work. The Delmore Brothers -- Alton and Rabon -- had been working together for years before they signed to the up-and-coming Cinncinnati country/R&B indie, King Records. Giving their old-fashioned "brother act" sound a major goose, the Delmore Brothers put hillbilly boogie on the map with a series of upbeat, blues-flavored tunes that were simultaneously peppy and mournful. "Freight Train Boogie", "Brown's Ferry Blues", and their mopey masterpiece, "Blues Stay Away From Me" all became classics in the country canon. In addition to their plain but plaintive harmonies, the Delmore Bros had a few secret weapons on their side, including the musical assist of other high-power hicks such as Zeb Turner, Wayne Raney and Jethro Burns backing them up incognito. This album collects the 1946-51 tracks that had the greatest influence on country music, and also in the development of rock and roll, a few years later. It's pretty tasty stuff.


Delmore Brothers "Sand Mountain Blues" (Rebel/County, 1994)
Folks who want to delve a little deeper into the Delmore's past will appreciate these discs, which collect a bunch of their more old-timey material. The recordings on Sand Mountain are traditionally-oriented tunes that were recorded during their stint on King, while Brown's Ferry Blues features even starker material from the 1930s, when they were playing on radio stations such as WSM in Nashville. The earliest Delmore Brothers records and radio appearances apparently had a great stylistic influence on bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe, as well as the other great "brother act" of the time, the Blue Sky Boys. Dark as their disciples may have been, few country acts were ever as genuinely downcast as the Delmore Brothers, and these early recordings may shock you with how stark and morose they sound. Great stuff, highly recommended.


Delmore Brothers "Brown's Ferry Blues" (Rebel/County, 1995)
Folks who want to delve a little deeper into the Delmore's past will appreciate these discs, which collect a bunch of their more old-timey material. The recordings on Sand Mountain are traditionally-oriented tunes that were recorded during their stint on King, while Brown's Ferry Blues features even starker material from the 1930s, when they were playing on radio stations such as WSM in Nashville. The earliest Delmore Brothers records and radio appearances apparently had a great stylistic influence on bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe, as well as the other great "brother act" of the time, the Blue Sky Boys. Dark as their disciples may have been, few country acts were ever as genuinely downcast as the Delmore Brothers, and these early recordings may shock you with how stark and morose they sound. Great stuff, highly recommended.


Delmore Brothers "Classic Cuts: 1933-1941" (JSP, 2004)
A bargain-priced 4-CD set, exploring their early work before the hillbilly boogie years... Includes a pretty hefty chunk of their prewar catalogues on Bluebird and Decca, stuff that many fans consider a country music Holy Grail.


Delmore Brothers "Volume Two - The Later Years: 1933-1941" (JSP, 2007)
A bargain-priced 4-CD set, with many of their classic recordings. Two of the four discs are also available as a separate download albums: Disc One, and Disc Two. Good stuff!


The Delmore Brothers "That Old Train" (BACM, 2005)
(Available through the British Archive of Country Music website.)


Dave Denney "It's Nobody's Fault But Your Own" (BACM, 2005)



The Derailers - see artist discography


Al Dexter "The Original Pistol Packin' Mama" (Bronco Buster)


Al Dexter "Country Hit Maker Of The 1940s" (Cattle Compact)
Not just a country hitmaker, but a pop one as well... Dexter's wartime tune, "Pistol Packin' Mama" was a big hit for him on the hillbilly charts, and crossed over to phenomenal success as a #1 Pop hit when Bing Crosby covered it in 1942. Dexter's version isn't included on this disc, but plenty of other great 1940s tunes are. Fans of the swinging country-pop-jazz crossovers by Merle Travis and his pals will probably dig this as well. These German-made imports dig deep into Dexter's catalog; probably the best option for listeners who want to delve deep into his career. Nice stuff!


Al Dexter "Honky Tonk Blues -- The Early Recordings: 1936-1940" (Jasmine, 2004)


Al Dexter "Pistol Packin' Mama" (ASV, 1999)
Here are the hits, and the songs that surrounded the hits -- probably the most straightforward set of Dexter's work currently available. Definitely worth checking out!


Al Dexter "Pistol Packin' Mama" (Roots Of Country, 2001)
Although it has the same title as the other records listed above, I'd be fairly leery of this collection. In general, this series seems to be made up of off-brand, late-vintage recordings from country artists whose stars had long since sunk low. I haven't heard this set, but I'd suspect it's similar to the others in this series, and as such probably mostly of interest to hardcore country scholars who'd be intrigued to hear what the old guy sounded like in his later years....


Al Dexter "Al Dexter's Found Masters, v. 1-3" (Al Dexter Estate Productions, 2010)
A 3-CD set purporting to be mastered straight from sources owned by Dexter's family... Haven't heard it, but it sure sounds cool.



Deke Dickerson - see artist discography


Dub Dickerson "Boppin' In The Dark" (Bear Family, 2000)
Awesome! This is the kind of thing I look to Bear Family for -- an absolutely smashing collection of an artist that I've never heard of... this rocks from start to finish. "The Boy With The Grin In His Voice," Dickerson was one of those real hick singers who late in the game tried to cash in on the rockabilly craze, bringing a ruggedly adult country edge to the teeniebopper style. This CD kicks off with several hypermelodic rock tunes, like "Kiss Me With Your Eyes" and "Boppin' In The Dark" -- tunes that took liberties with the sexual license of rocknroll, and infused the pimply kid music with a genuinely salacious bump and grind. From there it works its way backwards into his early '50s country roots. Solid country, along with rare old rockabilly singles that make the collector nerds sweat... it's all great. Really, really great, and highly recommended!



Little Jimmy Dickens - see artist discography


Craig Dillingham "Almost Yesterday" (Emergent, 2004)
A great "comeback" album from a Texas fella who recorded several singles in the early 1980s on the Curb label, but wasn't even given the chance to release an album before they dropped him. Why? Well, judging from this pedal-steel and western swing-laced gem, I'd say the reason was he was just too darn country. Nice crooning, soulful drawl, with plenty of smooth, sweet twang. Trust me: this one's worth checking out!


The Dixon Brothers "A Blessing To People -- Complete Recordings: 1936-1938" (Bear Family, 2012)
A 4-CD set collecting the Depression-era recordings of Dorsey and Howard Dixon, a brother-act duo who recorded nearly a hundred songs in the late 1930s. I haven't head this one yet, but I bet it's a doozy.


The Dixon Brothers/Various Artists "The Dixon Brothers With The Callahan Brothers" (JSP, 2011)
If the Bear Family box is too pricey, there's also this 4-CD set which features a hefty chunk of Dixon Brothers material (with various changes of lineup) along with another brother act, the Callahans. Less lavish packaging, but a lot of the same kinda music.


Deryl Dodd "Pearl Snaps" (Lucky Dog, 2002)
I like this guy! Coasting on the razor edge between "young country" Top 40 and Joe Ely-style bar band rowdiness, Dodd has a pleasantly un-perfect voice which makes him human enough to be a little "alt"... The title track to the best-of set is pretty irresistible and catchy... it's followed up by two more great tunes, "She's Have You Back" and a nice rendition of Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got To Memphis." From there it's a steady slide into commercial formulae, but on the whole this is a pretty decent collection. Plus, I have to confess I've always been partial to Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown..." Dodd's version ain't as great as Lightfoot's, but that's a tough standard to live up to, and Dodd does alright. This album is a little bit on country's poppier side, but definitely worth checking out.


Jimmie Dolan "Juke Box Boogie" (Bear Family, 2000)
Not a top-flight honkytonker, Dolan had been kicking around the edges of country stardom in the 1940s, years before these early '50s tracks were recorded. Resolutely devoted to the novelty song, Dolan recorded dozens of uptempo goofball numbers, like "Hot Rod Race", "Wine, Women and Pink Elephants" and "I Ain't Gonna Bring The Bacon Home Anymore"... Some of these tunes stand out among the crowd, like "Nicotine Fits", "Tool Pusher On A Rotary Rig", and "The Wheel That Does The Squeakin' (Is The One That Gets The Grease)". These songs are distinctive more for their lyrical persistence than their melodic qualities -- even though he hung out and recorded with '50s players like Cliffie Stone and Noel Boggs, Dolan was a strikingly limited singer, particularly when it came to phrasing. Even so, these tunes are so goofy and so much a part of their time, that fans of old country music will get a kickout of this disc... they don't make 'em like this anymore!



Johnny Dollar -- see artist profile


Jimmy Donley "The Shape You Left Me In" (Bear Family, 2010)
Louisiana rockabilly and "swamp pop" with a decidedly rugged, rural edge. Singer-composer Jimmy Donley was apparently a real roughneck, a hard-drinking alcoholic who was prone to getting in bar fights, and who killed himself in 1963. These late-'50s/early-'60s recordings are a nice slice of off-the-radar, old-school rock'n'roll, with a decent dose of twang in there as well... Fans of early Charlie Rich might like this as well...



Dave Dudley -- see artist profile



Johnny Duncan -- see artist profile


Tommy Duncan "Texas Moon" (Bear Family, 1996)
It'd be hard to overestimate the importance of Tommy Duncan's bluesy-crooner vocals to the success of Bob Wills' western swing sound of the 1940s. Duncan and Wills had a several big blow-outs after the War, and in 1948 Duncan left the Texas Playboys and set out on his own. These two CDs document the uneven results of his solo career, with maybe a half dozen screamingly awesome tracks spread between them, a bunch of fairly good tracks, and some stuff that just doesn't measure up. These discs are fascinating for several reasons. First, who else but Bear Family would have put them together, thus saving this material from complete oblivion? Also, it's instructive to see how a top-flight vocalist like Duncan could make mediocre records, when deprived of a steady, full-time backup band -- kinda gives you more respect for all those super-amateur bands whose hard-rocking honkytonk tunes grace all those endless compilation albums. These discs are well worth checking out, though in the long run they may not hold your attention.


Tommy Duncan "Beneath A Neon Star In A Honky Tonk" (Bear Family, 1996)


Tommy Duncan "Dog House Blues" (Jasmine, 2008)
Apparently this disc includes a mix of different artists and different sessions, starting with some of Duncan's solo sides, along with contemporary recordings by the Bob Wills band, sans Tommy Duncan. Some of the vocals on the Wills recordings are by Bob's brother Billy Jack Wills, so the album art is a little misleading. Go figure.





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