Are you a George Jones guy in a Garth Brooks world? A Loretta Lynn gal trying to understand why people still call Shania Twain a "country" artist?
Well, then this website is for you! Here's your chance to read all about Nashville pop, from the late-'50s "Nashville Sound" and the countrypolitan scene of the '70s to today's chart-toppers and pretty-boy hat acts, seen through the lens of DJ Joe Sixpack, a hick music know-it-all with a heart of gold...
Your comments and suggestions are welcome, particularly suggestions for artists or albums I might have missed. Other types of twang are reviewed elsewhere in my Hick Music Guide.
This is the first page covering the letter "T"
Apparently Tennison has real working class roots and admirers from within the rootsy end of the country community... I've heard her hailed as a return to the good old days, a rural-voiced throwback to the days of Melba and Dolly, and wil admit that in her rootsier moments, she sounds sort of like Reba McEntire did in her early years. But the arrangements on the opening tracks undercut her claim to the new roots throne; some songs like "Handful Of Water" and "It Ain't So Easy" are quite nice, but the drippy ballads ("I Can Feel You Drifting," "Leave It At That," "Someone Else's Turn To Cry") are absolutely dreadful. Midway between these two points are a few decent Tammy Wynette-ish countrypolitan ditties like "Just Because She Lives There," where she brings the lyrics home with a heartfelt delivery. On the whole, though, even with the rugged, rural voice, Tennison is wa-a-a-ay too popped-up for me. Mostly, this is the same old overproduced Nashville stuff.
Blech! A slow-paced, lethargic, Wynonna-esque set of glossy high-tech weepers packed with swelling synthesizer lead-ins and bombastic, rock-tinged drums and electric guitars. Way too overproduced, monotonously introspective and far too serious. Humorless in the extreme, as a matter of fact -- the most interesting song on here is "Makin' Up With You," about a couple that likes to fight (and have make-up sex afterwards)... This track is followed, figuratively, by "We Don't Have To Pray," about the aftermath of a family splitting apart when the no-good dad hits the highway. (Interesting lyrics but terrible, crashing, clamorous musical backdrop...) I suppose there is an emotional rawness to this album that redeems it, but the music is so overblown I can't stand to listen to it. Not my cup of tea.
Chalee Tennison "Parading In The Rain" (Dreamworks, 2003)
I simply can't find anything nice to say about this record... I don't like her voice, the music is super-generic and prefab, the songs mostly sound alike, and the lyrics are artless and bluntly crafted. I suppose this album is inoffensive in a muzak-y way, but that's about as much praise as I can muster for this one. I don't get her appeal.
B. J. Thomas "Wind Beneath My Wings" (Sony Special Products, 1993)
'60s/'70s second-stringer Thomas had kind of outstayed his welcome by the time these tinkly-sounding early '80s hits came along. The title track is one of those atrociously cheesoid keyboard ballads that someone out in middle-America seems to love (lord knows who, though!), and most of the album follows in pretty much the same pattern. I can happily hum along to the sunshine pop of "Whatever Happened To Old Fashioned Love," but that's about as far down this path as I'll go.
Hank Thompson -- see artist discography
Sue Thompson "Greatest Hits" (Curb, 1991)
Even though she was nominally a "country" artist, the squeeky-voiced Sue Thompson was really much more in a teen pop and girl group singer, whose work in the early 1960s skirted the edges of rock'n'roll and pop, very much modeled after Brenda Lee and her highly successful crossover formula. For fans of the style, Thompson's early singles offer a swell "new" set of teenpop tunes outside the usual Brill Building standards by Carole King and her pals. John D. Loudermilk wrote most of these tunes, which were recorded for the independent Hickory label, and they are actually pretty fun to listen to. Not very country, but fun. This disc also includes a few later (early '70s) singles such as "Big Mable Murphy," a uniquely unamusing Dallas Frazier ditty about a big, big woman who constantly beats up her little, little man. (Domestic abuse in reverse... ho, ho, ho. How funny.) Still, a nice, quick 12-song overview of an interesting pop-country career.
Sue Thompson "Golden Classics" (Collectables, 1995)
This disc concentrates more exclusively on Thompson's early 1960s work on the Hickory label, with plenty of great girl-groupish tunes written for her by John D. Loudermilk. The tighter focus, and more generous heaping helping of songs (eighteen total) may make this a better buy for those interested in her pop career.
A far superior collection, highlighting Thompson at her poppy, chirpy best. This collection, an update of an earlier Varese release, really gives a full sense of her career, and has lots of great material on it, including a handful of her '70s duets with crooner Don Gibson. Again, this is better suited for folks more into girl group pop than actual country music, but the Nashville influence is there as well. Recommended!
The Thrasher Brothers "Country In My Soul" (MCA, 1982)
(Produced by Jim Fogelsong)
Some old geezers, most of whom actually were brothers, singing group harmony vocals, ala the Statler Brothers or the Oak Ridge Boys. This album starts off with a tepid cover of that crappy pop hit by Orleans, "Still The One," which -- as it turned out -- was the high point for the Thrashers, hitting #60 in the charts. Too bad they didn't also add the group's first single, "A Message To Khomeini," a topical tune about the Iran hostage crisis. Oh, well. That would have been fun. On the other hand, this does include Hank Strzelecki's "Long Tall Texan," which, if memory serves me right, was covered by Lyle Lovett many years later... His version is better, but their's was first. No great shakes here, but if you like the group vocals sound of the time, this disc holds up well.
Commercial Country Albums - More Letter "T"
Hick Music Index