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Various - Country & Western Hit Parade: 1968 - Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Hillbilly Music
In 1965, Bill C. Malone published his doctoral dissertation on country music, and in 1968 it became widely available as Country Music U.S.A. Published for the American Folklore Society by the University of Texas Press, it wasn't the first long-form work about country music, but it was the first to capture and ably contextualize the broad sweep of country music history. It was, as Nick Tosches said, “the first noble lunge out of darkness.” Malone interwove sociology and musicology, making a coherent narrative out of a bewildering plethora of information. For an academic work, it was surprisingly accessible. Malone's book remains the cornerstone of country music scholarship, much as Samuel Charters' groundbreaking The Country Blues explored that under-served genre nine years earlier. In 1970, journalist John Grissim published Country Music—White Man's Blues and Paul Hemphill published The Nashville Sound. Grissim was imprecise (barely one name in two was spelled correctly), but his book was a vibrant portrait of a scene that has largely disappeared. In today's corporate Nashville, it's like a missive from another planet. If Malone took the macro approach, Grissim went micro, focusing upon relatively few artists, but rendering them so vividly that, collectively, their stories almost become an inferred history of country music. As a snapshot of country music circa '68-'69, Grissim's work is unsurpassed. You're enveloped in the stale beer stench and cigarette fug of the honky tonks on Nashville's Lower Broad, and you're seated among the hillbillies, wannabillies, and Tex Nobodies who populated country music's peculiar, insular world. And to Grissim's credit, he picked up on several guys like Kris Kristofferson and Commander Cody who, at that point, were almost completely under the radar.
On April 22, 1968, Steve Sholes died, aged 57. When signing Elvis Presley became the smartest-ever move in the history of the record business, Sholes was elevated from his position as Director of Specialty Singles, where he was responsible for country music, gospel, kids' music, and blues, to become head of pop singles. From there, he became head of pop albums and then, in 1961, head of west coast operations. Back in New York in 1963, he became vice-president of pop A&,R, but maintained a keen involvement in country music. He lobbied hard for the Country Music Hall of Fame &, Museum and was elected to the Hall of Fame in October 1967, alongside his protégé Jim Reeves. Six months later, driving a rented car from Nashville airport to Vanderbilt University for a Homer &, Jethro live album session, he died of a heart attack. Sholes worked his entire life for RCA, joining as a messenger in 1929. After graduating from Rutgers in 1935, he worked on jazz recordings, making his first foray into country music on October 11, 1940 when his boss, Frank Walker, was called back from a field trip and Sholes flew to Atlanta to record the Pine Ridge Boys. In 1945, when Walker left to start MGM Records, Sholes was appointed RCA's head of Specialty Singles, and either signed or developed Eddy Arnold, the Browns, Hank Locklin, Jim Reeves, Hank Snow, Skeeter Davis, Pee Wee King, and many others. Elvis Presley, of course, was signed to RCA as a country artist. In 1957, Sholes built the first major label studio in Nashville and installed Chet Atkins to run it. Sadly, Sholes never told all he knew. Shortly before his death, jazz historian Mike Lipskin conducted some detailed interviews about the 1930s jazz recordings, and, in February 1968, Sholes recorded some more reminiscences with country music journalist Tandy Rice that only scratched the surface of his long involvement in country music.
There were two other notable passings in 1968. On May 8, George D. Hay, the originator of the Grand Ole Opry, died, and on September 19, Red Foley died on tour in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Hay had long since fallen out with the Opry. Foley was still on Decca, the label he'd joined in 1941, and still scoring ever-smaller hits. On the night of his death, he regaled Hank Williams, Jr. with tales of Hank, Sr. before leaving for his room where he slumped on the bed.
And 1968 is as good a year as any to celebrate the birth of what came to be known as Country Rock. On one level, Country Rock was nothing new. Rockabilly was country rock, and so, it could be argued, were 'Beatles For Sale' in 1964 and Bob Dylan's 1967 album 'John Wesley Harding.' But 1968 was the year that Gram Parsons' first LP, 'Safe At Home,' was released together with an album over which he exercised considerable influence, the Byrds' 'Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.' Parsons' vision was to create what he called Cosmic American Music, and he truly, naively believed that traditional country music fans would embrace what the trade later called Longhair Country. A chance to test Parsons' assumption came in March 1968 when Parsons and the Byrds were in Nashville to record 'Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.' Just as Elvis gave the Grand Ole Opry audience of October 2, 1954 a sneak preview of rock 'n' roll, so the Byrds provided the Opry audience of March 15, 1968 with a preview of country rock. The Byrds' label, Columbia, pulled a few strings to make it happen. As Randy Brooks of the Vanderbilt Hustler wrote, “An unidentified man suggested that, for the sake of public relations, they use the current Number One song, 'Sing Me Back Home,' for their encore. The boys had other ideas, and even after the MC introduced that song, guitarist Graham [sic] Parsons began to play 'Hickory Wind,' a very pretty and very country tune. In performance the Byrds were a far cry from their earlier days.
The unbearable volume of amplified instruments, which has impaired the hearing of stalwart Byrds fans in the past, was gone. In its place was the lazy twang of steel guitar and three very pleasant voices, actually audible over the accompaniment. Both 'Hickory Wind,' and 'You Ain't Goin' Nowhere' drew polite but unenthusiastic response from an audience which only minutes before has cheered heartily for the Glaser Brothers and displayed unabashed adoration for Skeeter Davis.” Byrds leader Roger McGuinn said later that Davis was the only smiling face as they left the stage and, as they walked out, they could hear people saying, “They'll never be back.” Brooks picked up the story: “Following their appearance at the Opry, the Byrds came to Vanderbilt. The studios of WRVU [the Vanderbilt campus station] were crowded with onlookers as each member of the group played disc jockey and answering service during an informal interview conducted by [Earl Scruggs' son] Gary Scruggs and Speed Hopkins [later a Hollywood art director]. In reply to a telephoned question, Parsons said that he feels that the next sound in pop music will be an 'exploitation of country music.' One caller who accused the Byrds of being 'dirty Commies' turned out to be group member Chris Hillman phoning from downstairs.”
Article properties: Various - Country & Western Hit Parade: 1968 - Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Hillbilly Music
|Various - Country & Western Hit Parade - 1968 - Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Hillbilly Music CD 1|
|01||Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line||Jennings, Waylon|| |
|02||D-I-V-O-R-C-E||Wynette, Tammy|| |
|03||Folsom Prison Blues||Cash, Johnny|| |
|04||Luxury Liner||International Submarine Band|| |
|05||Skip A Rope||Cargill, Henson|| |
|06||Mama Tried||Haggard, Merle|| |
|07||Beneath Still Waters||Jones, George|| |
|08||I Wanna Live||Campbell, Glen|| |
|09||Harper Valley P.T.A.||Riley, Jeannie C.|| |
|10||Train Leaves Here This Morning||Dillard, Doug & Clark, Gene|| |
|11||The Carroll County Accident||Wagoner, Porter|| |
|12||Another Place Another Time||Lewis, Jerry Lee|| |
|13||I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am||Haggard, Merle|| |
|14||Fist City||Lynn, Loretta|| |
|15||Will You Visit Me On Sundays?||Louvin, Charlie|| |
|16||The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp||Darrell, Johnny|| |
|17||Little Green Apples||Miller, Roger|| |
|18||Ballad Of Forty Dollars||Hall, Tom T.|| |
|19||Hickory Wind||Byrds, The|| |
|20||Rocky Top||Osborne Brothers|| |
|21||What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me)||Lewis, Jerry Lee|| |
|22||Wichita Lineman||Campbell, Glen|| |
|23||Holding On To Nothin'||Wagoner, Porter & Parton, Dolly|| |
|24||Daddy Sang Bass||Cash, Johnny|| |
|25||I Started Loving You Again||Haggard, Merle|| |
|26||How Long Will My Baby Be Gone?||Owens, Buck|| |
|27||When The Grass Grows Over Me||Jones, George|| |
|28||I Walk Alone||Robbins, Marty|| |
|29||Next In Line||Twitty, Conway|| |
|30||Stand By Your Man||Wynette, Tammy|| |
|31||Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line||Alley, Jim|| |
Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Hillbilly Music
Country & Western Hit Parade
“Collecting an anarchic mix of sex and sentimentality, earnest paeans to family and fanciful tales of drinking and cheating, DIM LIGHTS… affords a fascinating glimpse into black-and-white ‘50s polemics… Established stars, inspired wannabes proffer an intoxicating brew of dancefloor honky tonk, hillbilly boogie, bluegrass, western swing, incipient rockabilly, goofball novelty, and sentimental country-pop.” (UNCUT magazine)
The reviews are in and everyone from Australia to Los Angeles to London is raving about Bear Family’s definitive year-by-year country series. Starting in 1945, DIM LIGHTS, THICK SMOKE, AND HILLBILLY MUSIC (COUNTRY & WESTERN HIT PARADE) tells the real story of country music record-by-record. The hits are here, but so are groundbreaking records that went nowhere at the time. This is the true and uncensored history of country music. Everything you need to hear, year-by-year. Stars like Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Eddy Arnold, Ray Price, and Hank Snow are here, but so are beerhall legends like Eddie Noack and Sonny Burns, and roots music mavens like Charlie Feathers and the Stanley Brothers, as well as overlooked giants like Carl Belew and Floyd Tillman. You’ll also hear the incredible original versions of songs like Duelin’ Banjos, Release Me, Lonely Street, and many more! Every CD is full to the brim with great music, and they’re all individually packaged in hardcover 72-page books by Colin Escott that tell the story of every song as well as the broader music history of the time. Fabulous photos, original record labels, and period advertisements round out the packages.
Bear Family began its journey into year-by-year anthologies with its groundbreaking and award-winning BLOWIN’ THE FUSE/SWEET SOUL MUSIC series that tells the story of R&B from 1945-1970. Look for the series to continue into the Funk era. And look for a year-by-year Rock ‘n’ Roll anthology coming soon.
# After the volumes covering 1945-1955 were released, the word was out. This series is definitive, fabulously packaged, and faultlessly remastered! Everything you'd expect from Bear Family…and more!
# Jack Clement, who produced Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings, Don Williams, and many others, said, "This is the best country series of all time. No doubt. No question." Robert Hilburn in the 'Los Angeles Times'said, "An invaluable album project…enables fans to step back in time and listen to the radio just like Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and Bob Dylan did."
# Now the story continues from 1956 until 1960. Every CD is generously full. Every booklet is extensive and chocked full of rare photos and illustrations, as well as complete stories behind the songs!
# In addition to the hits, the series contains rarities that went on to influence country music…and all music…in the years ahead, like Wanda Jackson's original version of Silver Threads And Golden Needles, Carl Belew's original Lonely Street, and Chet Atkins' influential Walk, Don't Run.
# This series is designed to introduce new listeners to the very best that country music has to offer… while keeping longtime fans entertained. Every volume is a fabulous time capsule.
Here's the story
For many years, we'd received requests to do a truly definitive country series, but it wasn't until the success of our year-by-year R&B/Soul series, 'Blowin' The Fuse' (now 'Sweet Soul Music' and soon to be continued into the Funk era) that we decided we needed to do something comparable for country music. The first volumes of 'Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Hillbilly Music' took us from 1945-1955, and now the story continues into the era of the Nashville Sound.
The series has been compiled with today's fans in mind. Sure, the big hits are there, but so are the classic performances that weren't necessarily hits at the time, but became influential in the years ahead. Every volume has incredibly detailed behind-the-scenes stories, fabulously rare photos, and an ongoing history of country music set against the backdrop of the broader American music business. The booklets alone are 72 pages! Definitive? You bet!
Superlatives are often overused, but we feel that this series is part of our mission to bring this incredible music to new fans ... as well as entertaining older fans. We pick up the story in 1956....just as country music was coming to terms with the upset of rock 'n' roll!
And, keeping in the spirit of the releases, some of the artists' listings are as they originally appeared - like Jim Edward and Maxine Brown and Bonnie, Wayne Raney - Raney Family (Wayne, Wanda and Zyndall) and Marty Robbins with Ray Conniff - while the cd in each set is stored in a reproduction of a 45 rpm record label bag appropriate to that year.
Country music author and historian Colin Escott is responsible for these remarkable releases, an obvious labour of love that has taken considerable research effort, offering a valuable insight into the development of country music over the years. Many of country music's foremost entertainers are included alongside others who may have only earned a place in the footnotes of country music history, but all present a variety of voices and differing musical styles that have virtually disappeared, over half a century later, in contemporary country music's conveyor belt output. The songs were also different back then: sometimes relating to current events, they also regularly centred upon themes like boozin', honky-tonking and slippin' around, now generally considered non-pc in these over sensitive times.
Country & Western Hitparade - CD-Album-Series by Bear Family
Read more at: https://www.bear-family.com/bear-family/country-series/country-und-western-hitparade/
Copyright © Bear Family Records
These CDs are both essential and things of beauty. Everybody should own them. All of them.
Country Music People 11/13 Duncan Warwick
Ohne Übertreibung darf man feststellen: Besser geht’s nicht!
Good Times 6/2013 Ulrich Schwartz
Dringende Kaufempfehlung für die gesamte Reine!
Nur Richard Weize und sein Team trauen sich an eine so monumentale Aufgabe heran. Egal ob konservativ oder innovativ: Es ist viel fabelhafte Musik auf diesen CDs.
Rookie 11/13 Jörn Schlüter
Ein passendes Schlusswort einer tollen Serie!
R & R Musikmagazin 6/13 H.-G. Hartwig
An essential collection and well worth investing in the whole series to see and hear how country music progressed from 1945 throught to 1970.
Maverick 1-2/2014 Alan Cackett
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Ready to ship today, delivery time** appr. 1-3 workdays