A Yodel For The BEAR FAMILY Label -Part 2- by Kenny Weir

Frankie Miller – 'Blackland Farmer' (The Complete STARDAY Recordings and More...)

Whooeeee – three discs of unrepentant honky tonk brilliance. Many of these sides are, I'm guessing, among the last with Nashville fire before country- politan doused the flames. Like fellow STARDAY artist George Jones, Miller writes little but has a genius for making other's lyrics his own and so believable one simply falls into the song. A prime example: Baby Rocked Her Dolly – in which an old codger in a rest home looks back on his life – is pure dynamite. There's a single BEAR FAMILY release of Miller's earlier recs for COLUMBIA, more in the Hank mould.

(Hey, hey – the magic of subliminal listening! As I'm bashing this out, Leon Payne is sounding better by the minute! Similarly, I find that when doing such a banal time-wasting thing as playing computer soli- taire, I often pick up details in the music that have previously passed me by.)

Benny Barnes – 'Poor Man's Riches' (The Complete 1950s Recordings)

More Texas honky tonk schtick a la Miller/Jones. Some great, some good, some pretty awful really. Not essential.

Jess Willard – 'Honk Tonk Hardwood Floor'

One of those BEAR FAMILY releases on which I simply took a punt, with spectacularly enjoyable results. Lisping former sidekick of Jack Guthrie doing one-of- a-kind west coast honk tonk/hillbilly. Weird, surreal, essential. And absolutely one of THOSE voices seem- ingly calculated to give the screaming shits to those who dig, say, the likes of Shania Ball Of Twine.

Gene O'Quin – 'Boogie Woogie Fever'

Ah, re-acquainted with another old friend. And an- other one of THOSE voices. Irresistibly enjoyable west coast jive with beaucoup Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant, Merle Travis and so on. The musical equivalent of a shit-eating grin.

Jimmy Swan – 'Honky Tonkin' In Mississippi'

The liners notes make quite a bit of Swan's campaign for the Miss. Gover- norship on a segregationist platform. So what? Heaven forbid we stop lis- tening to music for such reasons. Real, real hardcore honky tonk in the Hank Williams mould.

Jack Guthrie – 'Milk Cow Blues'

One of three BF Guthrie releases, this features him and his band doing cov- ers such as Muleskinner Blues, San Anto- nio Rose, Peach Picking Time In Georgia and so on. Really fine, but the Okla- homa Hills CD is probably the better pick in terms of Guthrie's individual talent/voice. That's on my wishlist.

Jimmy Murphy – 'Electricity'

Brilliant beyond words. Right up there with the likes of Monk, Longhair, Howlin' Wolf, Roger Miller in terms of one-off American genius.

Roger Miller– 'King Of The Road'

Speaking of which... quite an old re- lease by now (1990), but still the best single disc comp as far as I know.

Skeets McDonald – 'Heart Breakin' Mama'

Jimmie Skinner – 'One Dead Man Ago'

As with the Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb single-disc comps, these 'Gonna Shake This Shack' releases cherry pick in sublime fashion multi-disc box sets. These'll do me for these two fine artists. More essential stuff. Jimmie Skinner has the laudable knack of doing a relatively modern honky tonk style with a real old-timey feel. A fair bet, too, he's an influence on Bob Dylan. Skeets is simply classic and about as hard as country gets – mostly a mix of Nashville cats and pre-Hag Bakersfield.

Hawkshaw Hawkins – 'Car Hoppin' Mama'

Eddie Hill – 'The Hot Guitar'

Two more 'Gonna Shake This Shack' re- leases. The Hawkins is genial, rocking and pure ambrosia, with the vocals more in the Merle Travis/Johnny Mer- cer vein. The Eddie Hill is good fun along the 'Hot Rod Lincoln' lines, but not essential.

Harry Choates – 'Devil In The Bayou' (The Gold Star Recordings) 2 CDs

Link Davis – 'Big Mamou'

Two more American heroes, sort-of Ca- juns both. Essential, both of 'em – heaps of wailing fiddles, swing, cajun, rockabilly and much more.

And, of course, Kenny has boxes ...

Merle Travis – 'Guitars Rags And A Too Fast Past'

His CAPITOL classics - couldn't live with- out it. Genius/loon/jiver all in one.

Bob Wills – 'San Antonio Rose' 

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