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Tuesday 15 February 2011

Oct 2008

My featured CD this time around has to be “THE ULTIMATE COWBOY COLLECTION”, a 2 album release by H&H Music for the British market. It is essentially two albums in one.
CD 1 is a reissue of the outstanding western album from Moe Bandy, from several years back. It features 20 tracks, including “I’m An Old Cowhand”, “Home On The Range”, “Streets Of Laredo”, “Red River Valley” and many more. Moe does an great version on these songs. The album has been reissued before, so you might just have it in your collection, but , if not, don’t miss out on it this time.
It’s packaged with a compilation of 20 real classic cowboy songs, that should be in every Country fans collection. You’ll find Roy Rogers’ “Four Legged Friend”, Patsy Montana’s “Cowboy Sweetheart”, Eddy Arnold’s “Cattle Call”, plus Gene Autry, Slim Whitman, Frankie Laine and even Elvis!
Together, it’s a great tribute to the old West, and a very welcome addition to any collection.
RACHEL HARRINGTON was raised in Oregon, but is certainly raising awareness of her music over here. The recent visitor to Scotland for Perth’s Southern Fried Festival, and some other dates, has just released her second album, “City Of Refuge” (Skinny Dennis Records).
The lady has a beautiful crystal clear vocal style, which blends in nicely with the old timey simple instrumentation, which features mandolin, dobro, upright bass, clarinet, fiddle , guitja & guitar.
The album is produced by Evan Brubaker, and mixed by David Ferguson, who mixed Johnny Cash’s American Recordings, and features Tim O’Brien.
Stand out tracks for me include the poetic “Carver” about short story writer Raymond Carver, the traditional “I Don’t Want To Get Adjusted To This World”, “Housewife’s Lament” and the opening track “Karen Kane”. There’s also an interesting version of “Ode To Billie Joe”.
Mixing Country, folk, bluegrass & old time music, Rachel Harrington is a treasure waiting to be discovered. If you haven’t yet, check out this album, and make a date for one of her gigs when she returns next year.
From Mississippi, comes a young man, new to me. His name is COURTNEY HOGAN. But if his debut album, “Burn A Memory” is anything to go on, this wont be the last we’ll hear of him.
He arrived in Nashville in a band called Nickajack, and enrolled with Belmont College at the top end of Music Row. Now he has his first solo CD out, featuring 12 tracks. Two are self compositions, and others written by Ellen Wood Wells, Sandy Dunkley and Al Cuculli.
There is certainly a theme of looking back, with song titles like “Born Yesterday”, “Back Then”, She Still Gets To Me”, “He’s Not Getting Old” and “Long Way Back”.
There’s a bit of fun injected into the album on “Red Motorcycle And A Blue Tattoo”, about being turned on by a girl on two wheels, that he follows her until the bike stops, for him only to see the rider’s moustache.
That’s in complete contrast to the next track, “Only Three” a sentimental family song about a dying son. He also offers some Southern rock with his own “I’m From The South”.
This guy can turn on a variety of styles – and they’re all Country. A name for the future. Check out
Being described as a cross between a young Kristofferson and Dylan, is quite a tall order to live up to. But that’s just the tag that Texan singer songwriter HAYES CARLL has earned.
Humphead Records released his “Trouble In Mind” album in the UK during September, to coincide with a UK tour which included dates in Edinburgh & Fife.
Most of the songs are self penned, but the opening track, “Drunken Poet’s Dream”, was written with Ray Wylie Hubbard. There’s a wrye sense of humour throughout the album, as you’ll pick up from titles like “She Left Me For Jesus”, “I Got A Gig”, “Wild As A Turkey” and “Bad Liver And A Broken Heart”.
I particularly enjoyed “Girl Downtown”, which featured effective harmonies from Carey Kotsionis. I love to hear more of this lady’s voice.
As for Hayes, he has quite an unusual style. He’s a storyteller, who mixes honky tonk & Americana. Quite unique
He has the cream of Americana players on the album, including Al Perkins, Will Kimbrough, Brad Jones, Dan Baird, Fats Kaplin, Thad Cockrell and Darrell Scott.
But he’s different enough to stand out from the crowd.
Alabama born & raised JAMEY JOHNSON is one of Nashville’s current hit songwriters. He has also been building up recognition as a singer, since releasing “The Dollar” in 2005. He wrote Trace Adkins hits, “Ladies Love Country Music” and “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and last year’s CMA Song of the Year, “Give It Away” for George Strait.
Now his current album, “That Lonesome Song” gets a British release thanks to the enterprising Humphead label.
The album features 13 tracks, with all but two written, or co-written by the rising star.
The two non compositions are the Waylon styled “Dreaming My Dreams With You” and “The Door Is Always Open”. In fact, there is a distinct Waylon feel to the whole album, which is summed up in the final track “Between Jennings & Jones”. It’s an autobiographical lifestory about his journey to date. He is more Jennings, than Jones though!
The tracks that are a little less Waylon, include “Place Out On The Ocean”, “That Lonesome Song”, the catchy “Women”, and the beautiful “Stars In Alabama”
The guy has a solid Country voice. The arrangements are decidedly Outlaw. He’ll certainly appeal to Waylon’s fans. He sounds good. I’d like to have heard a little less dependance on the old Jennings style though.
Humphead are renowned for their excellent compilations, and the latest comes from KATHY MATTEA. “The Ultimate Collection” features 22 tracks, including all the biggies like “Eighteen Wheels & A Dozen Roses”, “Goin’ Gone”, “Come From The Heart”, “She Came From Fort Worth” and “Where’ve You Been”.
The album scans the years that she was signed to Mercury Records, from her first hit “Street Talk” right through to “Love Travels”.
In her career, the West Virginia native, who hopes to be back in Scotland in the new year, had 16 Top 10 Country hits. All but one (A Few Good Things Remain) are featured on this great value for money collection.
The CD is accompanied by a booklet with the song lyrics, and an introduction by Alan Cackett. If you need an introduction to Kathy Mattea, this is an ideal collection, then follow it up with her current realease,”Coal”, which is a masterpiece.
GENE WATSON is building up a strong following in Ireland, being a regular visitor there. His most recent visit was for the Dungannon Festival, and it was to capitalise on his success there, that Humphead Records have released “Matters Of The Heart”, a 20 track compilation of material from his 4 years on the MCA label back in the early eighties.
He did get his only Number One, “Fourteen Carat Mind” during this period, which is featured here, alongside 3 of the other 7 Top 10’s he had in this period.
It’s not a Greatest Hits collection by any means. It is, however, a good listen. Long time fans may have most of these songs on vinyl, but this is probably the first chance you’ve had to get hold of them on CD.
As one of the most Country voices around, you wont go far wrong with this album.
KIMMIE RHODES recently supported Emmylou Harris on her British dates, which included Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. To coincide with her visit, her new album, “Walls Fall Down” was released here.
It’s quite a pleasant album, with a voice that grows on you. As a singer songwriter Kimmie has written nine of the twelve tracks, including the opening title track, which really shows off her delicate voice.
I also quite enjoyed “Make The Morning Shine”, which has a lovely melody.
She also does good versions of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Need You” (the Don Williams/Emmylou duet is probably the best known version), and “Sex & Gasoline” from the pen of Rodney Crowell.
It’s over two years since I featured an interview with MANSON GRANT in the pages of this magazine. He talked then about his love of Buck Owens (who had recently passed away), and that he may do a tribute album.
Well it’s here! “A Tribute To Buck Owens” (Pan Records) features 14 of Buck’s songs, done in Manson’s own style. All the biggies are here, from “Crying Time” and “Together Again” to “Open Up Your Heart”, “My Heart Skips A Beat” and “I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail”.
Manson has recreated Buck’s Bakersfield sound – without leaving Wick. The album was recorded at the town’s Studio-D, and features hard working northern musicians like Phil Anderson, Gordie Gunn, Richard Neilson, and Manson’s longtime fellow Dynamo Robert Cameron.
The album should be in shops, but if you’ve any trouble, check out
SUSAN McCANN has been one of Northern Ireland’s top entertainers for decades now, and can still produce the goods. Her latest double album, “Once Upon A Time” (H&H label) features “40 Story Songs & Singalongs” according to the CD sleeve. I wouldn’t disagree.
The collection does feature some older recordings such as her duets with Porter Wagoner on “Chuck The Chuck Wagon” and Daniel O’Donnell on “Rose Of My Heart”, There’s also medleys which feature Sean Wilson.
Elsewhere, there’s a good mix of Country covers, like Ian Tyson’s “Someday Soon”, The Judds, “I Just Drove By” and Ricky Skaggs’ “I Wouldn’t Change You If I Could”, and Irish numbers like “Mary From Dungloe” and “Town I Loved So Well”.
The title track is a brand new song from the pen of Patrick Henry, and is already getting great response from fans.
Susan is still performing, and presenting a 2 hour Country programme each weekday night across Northern Ireland on Five FM, Six FM, Seven FM & Q101.
From the same label comes SEAN WILSON’s new double album , “A Road That Never Ends”. The king of the singalong has 66 songs on offer. The first CD features full songs like “Excuse My I Think I’ve Got A Heatrache”, “Sonny’s Dream”, “Back On My Mind” and “It Takes An Irish Man To Sing An Irish Song”.
The second CD features 10 of Sean’s trademark medleys. Most of them feature Irish songs, although there is a Scottish medley in there. There’s also a selection featuring a few Neil Diamond numbers, and another with a couple of Seekers songs.
It’s feel good party music. It’s not aimed at the hard core Country fan but, nevertheless a good listen.

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