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A Yodel For The BEAR FAMILY Label -Part 3- by Kenny Weir

Various – 'A Shot In The Dark – Tennessee Jive'

Heavyweight comp of early Nashville labels. Fabulous.

The Blue Sky Boys – 'The Sunny Side Of Life'

Far and away my fave sibling harmony outfit. And, yes, couldn't live without it. But... there is an undeniable same- ness about the tempos, keys, lyric con- tent and so on. Would make me hesitant about picking the Carter Fam- ily, Uncle Dave Macon and Louvin Bros sets, even if I could afford them.

Merle Haggard – 'Untamed Hawk' Merle Haggard – 'Hag'

Another blind spot joyfully banished. I'm a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to Hag, but with these two boxes I've become a zealot. Why are Johnny Cash and Gram Parsons, just for example, so revered in rock circles when Hag's associated with Okie From Muskogee and not much else?

Merle Haggard – 'Hag: Concepts, Live & The Strangers'

Not nearly as compelling as the CAPI- TOL studio tracks covered in the first two boxes, but has its moments. But not the gospel stuff, which is frankly bloody awful.

Floyd Tillman – 'I Love You So Much It Hurts'

Founding father of honky tonk along with Tubb and Williams. Unsung giant/genius. And another one-of-a- kind a la Longhair and Monk and so on.

Jimmie Davis – 'Nobody's Darlin' But Mine'

Louisiana Governor-to-be does much country smut and hard-grinding blues with Oscar Woods on steel.

Cliff Bruner And His Texas Wanderers

This was pretty much the beginning of my born-again interest in this area. But despite having large amounts of Bob Dunn and Moon Mullican, I find there is something ho-hum about this as a whole. Geez, that sound sacreligious even to me!

Bill Monroe – 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky'

Has the duets with Charlie, the tremendous proto-bluegrass with ac- cordian and classic early cuts with Flatt & Scruggs. As well as two discs of al- ternate takes. But it is the earlier four- disc box of the '50s DECCA stuff with Jimmy Martin that I really covet.

Maddox Brothers & Rose – 'The Most Colourful Hillbilly Band In America'

Slightly silly impulse buy, as it has plenty of the band's whacko rocking stuff, but also unfortunately also plenty of Rose's routine but still enjoy- able Nashville cuts.

I even have non-country boxes ...

Duke Ellington and others – 'Live From The Cotton Club'

Smiley Lewis – 'Shame Shame Shame'

I got this 2nd hand here in Melbourne. As I walked to the counter, a smartass quipped: "I always wanted to see what 

someone who wanted four discs by Smiley Lewis looked like." Idiot! Four discs, sure, but larded with not just one of great blues singers but also plenty of other Crescent City greats such as Tuts Washington and many more. Basically replaces the stuff I used to own on vinyl in another time, if not another place.

Kenny's wishlist ...

'Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight' series: Johnny Horton, Faron Young, Cowboy Copas and many more.

Multi-disc boxes: Marty Robbins western/cowboy set, Speedy West Jimmy Bryant, Darby & Tarlton.

Plenty curious about: Tex Ritter, Gene Autry and lit- erally dozens more. 

 

Kenny Weir

 

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