Johnny Darrell (1940-1997) was a likable second-stringer who preferred the folkie side of '60s country, and eventually became identified with the budding "outlaw" country scene of the 1970s -- here's a quick look at his work...
Johnny Darrell "The Country Sound Of Johnny Darrell" (Liberty-Sunset, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Kelso Herston & Bob Montgomery)
A nice sampler drawn from Darrell's early albums on United Artists, when he was cast as a country-folk stylist in the Bobby Bare/Johnny Cash mode. The album opens with a moderately uptempo version of "These Boots Are Made For Walking," but that in-crowd pop cover is an anomaly -- the rest of the record is softer, folkier material, with three Curly Putman tunes, including "Green, Green Grass Of Home" of course, and "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" and the topical "The One On The Right Is On The Left," which had been a hit for Johnny Cash in '66. Darrell's vocals are effective though understated, and the arrangements are pleasantly subdued, which is nice considering how outlandishly popped-out Nashville production had gotten in this era. Laid-back, but worth checking out.
Johnny Darrell "The Best Of Johnny Darrell" (United Artists, 1970) (LP)
Johnny Darrell "His Very Best" (K-Tel, 1980)
Johnny Darrell "Singin' It Lonesome -- The Very Best Of Johnny Darrell: 1965-1970" (Raven, 2000)
Johnny Darrell "The Complete Gusto/Starday/King Recordings" (King, 2002)
Re-recorded versions of Darrell's 1960's hits, probably made in the late '70s for the folks at Gusto...
Johnny Darrell "As Long As The Winds Blow" (United Artists, 1966) (LP)
Johnny Darrell "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" (United Artists, 1967) (LP)
Johnny Darrell "The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp" (United Artists, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Montgomery)
This disc is divided between lofty proto-countrypolitan, uptempo "hip" stuff and heartwrenching, understated weepers ala George Jones... The album is light on the poppish stuff, with lots of ballads, and that's where the deep-voiced Darrell hits hardest. He nails a bunch of them, particularly Harlan Howard's "The Chokin' Kind," J. D. Loudermilk's "Break My Mind" and Billy Mize's "Hangin' On." The only real dud on here is Roger Miller's clunky, over-written "Absence," but with additional material on here from Leon Ashley, Dallas Frazier, Autry Inman, Red Lane and Mel Tillis, this is really a late-'60s hard-country lovefest. Downtempo, but right up my alley.
Johnny Darrell "With Pen In Hand" (United Artists, 1968) (LP)
Johnny Darrell "Why You Been Gone So Long" (United Artists, 1969) (LP)
Johnny Darrell "California Stop-Over" (United Artists, 1970)
Johnny Darrell "Water Glass Of Whiskey" (Capricorn, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Montgomery)
Darrell's major-label swansong was an excellent set, with tastefully orchestrated country ballads and some soul-crushing weepers such as "Pieces Of My Life," whose lyrics give the album its title... Darrell was really in command of his vocal style and of the material. He gets strong sympathetic backing by a studio crew that was not made up of Nashville "usual suspects," despite the sessions being helmed by Billy Sherrill and Bob Montgomery (with Don Tweedy providing arrangements...) The overall sound is a sweet mix of Music City countrypolitan and Muscle Shoals' smooth bluesiness... The repertoire includes a couple of toss-offs -- lively versions of bluegrass oldies, "Orange Blossom Special" and "Uncle Pen" -- as well as a version of "The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan." All in all, an album well worth checking out!
Hick Music Index