Skeeter Davis was part of Nashville's half-kidding stabs at copying the "girl group" sound of the early 'Sixties... She was also a super-sincere and strikingly rural vocalist, whose plaintive style stood in contrast to the increasingly bland female vocals of the time. Her musical career started in the early '50s, as half of the Davis Sisters duo, along with her childhood friend Betty Jack Davis. They scored an early big hit with "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know," but the act ended tragically with a car crash that killed Betty Jack and seriously injured Skeeter. After a couple years downtime, Davis resumed her career and steadily became a favorite at the RCA studios, as well as a regular member of the Grand Ole Opry. Early albums had a bouncy, girl groupish sound, and her trademark multi-tracked self-harmonizations (ala Patti Page...) Skeeter's been an intriguing member of the Nashville establishment, having been chastened by the Opry hierarchy in the early '70s for publically expressing her sympathies with some hippies who had been arrested by the Nashville police. She was re-hired by the Opry, but eventually was dumped by her label, RCA. In 1987, she married Joey Spampinato, the bassist for NRBQ, the world's greatest bar band. Davis' sometimes-reedy vocals might not be for everyone, but there's still a lot of fun stuff to be found on her dozens of albums, all of which are sadly out of print.
A disappointment. There's a smidge of the Davis Sisters, and one or two tracks by Skeeter proper that you can appreciate if you strain yourself a bit, but that's about it. They could have done a lot better with this disc, especially considering all that great girl-groupish stuff she did in the Sixties. Have faith. Her day will come.
Voila! This best-of picks up where the Essential disc left off... and it's a real improvement on the '96 disc. This starts off with a couple of rockabilly-tinged tracks by the Davis Sisters, and generally keeps things on a more upbeat tone. Sure, there are some ballads on here, but this collection comes much closer to capturing the bouyant, poppy tone of Skeeter's best '60s material. This disc comes highly recommended -- it's the best introduction to her work you're likely to find for some time to come. Snap it up.
The Davis Sisters "Memories" (Bear Family, 1993)
A fancy two-CD set of the recordings of the ill-fated Davis Sisters... early country-pop from a bygone era, including dips into rockabilly-ish turf and a ton of old-fashioned '50s hillbilly material. Includes a bunch of Hank Williams covers, and -- of course -- their big hit, the title track.
A CD version of her 1961 "answer songs" album, pairing the original songs by Jim Reeves, et al, up with Skeeter's "answer" versions...
I haven't actually seen this disc, but I have seen it mentioned around. It's kind of an odd pairing of two of Skeeter's tribute albums. Odd partly because these two albums were recorded so far apart... one in 1967 and the other in 1972... (For my thoughts on these two records, see the LP reviews below...)
Skeeter Davis "The Ultimate Collection" (Marginal, 1998)
Wow!! This Belgian bootleg really delivers the goods, concentrating on Skeeter's early, most girl-groupy material. It's a well-chosen, well-paced, well-programmed collection that captures Davis at her best. The sound isn't as great as it would be if RCA-Nashville would get off its duff and do a similar set, but in the meantime, this is disc is completely enjoyable, and worth every franc, if you can track it down.
Hick Music Index