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Various - Country & Western Hit Parade: 1956 - Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Hillbilly Music
It was the year that the floodgates opened. Inside and outside the music business, rock 'n' roll was on everyone's mind. The trade papers didn't know what to make of this "mongrel music," as they called it. The industry liked pigeonholes, and rock 'n' roll wasn't easily pigeonholed until it became its own pigeonhole. But sales were booming. Really, really booming. There were more million-sellers than ever before. In late 1955 and the early months of 1956 Capitol Records alone sold 5.75 million copies combined of Tennessee Ernie's Sixteen Tons, Dean Martin's countryish Memories Are Made Of This, and Les Baxter's Lisbon, Antigua. The labels decided that if everyone wanted their product, they should charge more for it. Singles went up from 89 cents to 98 cents, and 78s went up even more in an attempt to persuade consumers to buy 45s.
Rock 'n' roll had almost been invented on independent labels, and by early 1956, indies accounted for twenty-five percent of all pop singles sold. That never was (and never would be) the case in country music, although the pendulum swung slightly in 1956 when Sun, Starday, and a few other independents came to the fore.
Underscoring Nashville's position as the hub of the country music business, Charlie Lamb launched the first country music trade journal, 'Country Music Reporter,' from Nashville in September 1956. ABC-Paramount had only been in business a few months when it set up a country division in Nashville headed by Dub Albritten, who later managed Brenda Lee and Red Foley. In 1955, Chet Atkins became RCA's local representative, and began overseeing RCA's plans to become the first major label with its own custom built Nashville studio. Even so, the labels' country music divisions were still headquartered in New York and Los Angeles. Atkins' boss, Steve Sholes, operated out of New York. Columbia's Don Law and Decca's Paul Cohen still commuted between Nashville, New York, and regional centers. Capitol's Ken Nelson was HQ'd in Los Angeles. Sholes, as noted, had Atkins in Nashville, while Cohen had Owen Bradley as his local eyes and ears. Don Law had Troy Martin looking out for him in Nashville. As a matter of preference, Law would have recorded in Dallas at Jim Beck's studio, but Nashville's position was further enhanced when Beck died in 1956. So there was no question that country music and Nashville were becoming synonymous, but the industry was on the verge of profound change.
Because Elvis Presley had been signed by RCA's country division, the head offices of the other major labels (Decca, Columbia, and Capitol), brought pressure upon their country A&R men to find the 'next Elvis.' Hundreds of young hopefuls were sucked in and spat out of Nashville. A few, such as Buddy Holly, Johnny Burnette, and Conway Twitty, would resurface another place another time, but they... along with most of the others... were cut loose after one or two sessions in 1956. There's a cult for the rockabilly records made in Nashville circa 1956, but at the time they sold no better than attempts by older artists to cut rockabillly. The generational divide that saw the musical tastes of adults and teenagers diverge was felt as keenly in country music as in pop. RCA's Steve Sholes wrote, "Your older listeners who want old country music sounds are wonderful people. They're the backbone of this country, loyal radio listeners (when the kids aren't around), but they don't buy records. Not enough to keep us in business. Not enough to keep the old fashioned country artist in guitar strings. It's the kids who want and buy the newer sounds." Sholes had identified the problem and found the answer: Elvis Presley. Now the rest of the business had to play catch-up, and come to terms with the tumult that was Elvis '56.
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|Various - Country & Western Hit Parade - 1956 - Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Hillbilly Music CD 1|
|01||Singing The Blues||Robbins, Marty|| |
|02||You Don't Know Me||Arnold , Eddy|| |
|03||Crazy Arms||Price, Ray|| |
|04||Lonely Street||Belew, Carl|| |
|05||Folsom Prison Blues||Cash, Johnny û Tennessee Two|| |
|06||Sweet Dreams||Young, Faron|| |
|07||Honky Tonk Man||Horton, Johnny|| |
|08||Conscience I'm Guilty||Snow, Hank|| |
|09||What Am I Worth||Jones, George|| |
|10||A Poor Man's Riches||Barnes, Benny|| |
|11||I Take The Chance||Edward, Jim and Maxine Brown a|| |
|12||I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby||Brothers, Louvin|| |
|13||Ruby, Are You Mad||Osborne Brothers, The and Red|| |
|14||I Know You're Married||Reno, Don & Red Smiley|| |
|15||Eat, Drink And Be Merry||Wagoner, Porter|| |
|16||Yes I Know Why||Pierce, Webb|| |
|17||I Walk The Line||Cash, Johnny û Tennessee Two|| |
|18||I'm A One Woman Man||Horton, Johnny|| |
|19||Silver Threads And Golden Needles||Jackson , Wanda|| |
|20||The Blackboard Of My Heart||Thompson, Hank|| |
|21||I've Got A New Heartache||Price, Ray|| |
|22||Just One More||Jones, George|| |
|23||Cash On The Barrelhead||Brothers, Louvin|| |
|24||Waltz Of The Angels||Stewart, Wynn|| |
|25||According To My Heart||Reeves, Jim|| |
|26||Searching (For Someone Else)||Wells, Kitty|| |
|27||I Can't Quit (I've Gone Too Far)||Robbins, Marty|| |
|28||These Hands||Snow, Hank|| |
|29||Who Will Buy The Wine||Mize, Billy|| |
|30||Dixie Fried||Perkins, Carl|| |
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
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