Warner Mack (nee Warner McPherson) was a Nashville native who was a country music back-bencher who nonetheless racked up several Top 40 and Top Ten hits, including the 1965 chart-topper, "The Bridge Washed Out." Like many 1950s/'60s country stars, Mack found the transition into the sleeker era of the countrypolitan '70s difficult, and for the most part he slid off the charts after the decade's start. Here's a quick look at his work...
Warner Mack "The Bridge Washed Out" (Country Stars, 1993)
It's hard to imagine, but for many years, this European bootleg seems to have been the only CD representation of Warner Mack's work. Apparently many of the tracks on here are re-recordings, but don't fret: the music is quite nice! McPherson's albums always had a soft, folkie air about them, but when looked at through the lens of a best-of set, his rougher edges come into focus... Indeed, I'd never realized before how much he sounded like roadhouse honkytonker Gary Stewart... A revelation which was a real eye-opener for me! Anyway, I liked this disc quite a bit and would recommend it, particularly for any hard-country fans who've been turned off by the wimpy qualities of Mack's old LPs. He's worth another look!
Warner Mack "The Early Years -- Southern Rockabilly: 1957-62" (Lost Gold, 1999)
A dash of sizzling, rural rockabilly mixed with tons of throaty, countrified teen-pop and sappy ballads... The soft stuff wins in the end, but it's still cool to hear some of his early work.
Warner Mack "Baby Squeeze Me (Shake This Shack Tonight)" (Bear Family, 2011)
A rough-cut country crooner, '60s singer Warner (Mack) Macpherson always seemed a bit like a fish out of water in Nashville studio system; there was a rural tone to his voice that you wanted to like, but his records seldom caught fire. This collection helps correct that problem, concentrating on Macpherson's early work, including a bunch of rockabilly-flavored singles and teen-oriented '50s rarities that preceded his years on the comparatively stodgy Decca label. Cool stuff, especially for twangfans who'd like to give this old-timer a second chance.
Warner Mack "The Golden Country Hits" (Kapp, 1961) (LP)
Well, the guy did pay his dues. Tamed from his rockabilly roots, Warner Mack's debut LP is a modest affair: it's almost all cover tunes of big country hits such as "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You," "Room Full Of Roses," "Satisfied Mind" and "Wild Side Of Life," all delivered at a modest tempo by a talented but relaxed studio crew... The playing is good, but pretty laid-back: I don't think anyone was expecting this record to do much, though in a way that seems to have freed them up to get a little funky, as on "Don't Worry" and "Bonaparte's Retreat," which have some groovy electric guitar riffs, ala Chet Atkins. Macpherson doesn't really distinguish himself as a vocalist, but he holds his own, and also manages to tuck one of his own original songs, a weeper called "You're Not Easy To Forget," which Dottie West revived two decades later. All in all, even though this is a sort of workmanlike, budget-line album, it's still a nice record, pleasant to listen to and worth checking out.
Warner Mack "The Golden Country Hits, v.2" (Kapp, 1962) (LP)
Warner Mack "The Bridge Washed Out" (Decca, 1965) (LP)
Warner Mack "Everybody's Country Favorites" (Kapp, 1966) (LP)
This one's basically a collection drawn from the Golden Country Hits albums listed above, a reissue that came out after Mack jumped ship to the Decca label. But if you like those albums, it's a nice summation of his journeyman work.
Warner Mack "The Country Touch" (Decca, 1966) (LP)
Warner Mack "Drifting Apart" (Decca, 1967) (LP)
Warner Mack & His Sister Dean "Songs We Sang In Church And Home" (Decca, 1967) (LP)
(Produced by Owen Bradley)
A nice country gospel set, distinguished in part by the straight-up country arrangements, with a standard-issue Nashville studio crew chiming in with pedal steel and guitars, playing over hymns and jubilee tunes, punctuated by a churchy piano and vocal chorus. In all honesty, his sister Dean didn't have the greatest voice, or rather, her churchy voice sounded out of place in the Nashville Sound-era country scene, though there is an echo of Kitty Wells or perhaps Loretta Lynn in her rough-edged tones. The MacPherson's sang together as kids, in a family band their dad who was a preacher in Tennessee -- they are backed here by a young gospel duo called the Hallmarks. (Although a larger chorus can be heard as well, doubtless some Jordaires/Anita Kerr permutation...) Nice mix of down-home church singin' and smooth, commercial country twang.
Warner Mack "The Many Country Moods Of Warner Mack" (Decca, 1968) (LP)
Warner Mack "The Country Beat Of Warner Mack" (Decca, 1969) (LP)
Warner Mack "I'll Still Be Missing You" (Decca, 1969) (LP)
Warner Mack "Love Hungry" (Decca, 1970) (LP)
Warner Mack "You Make Me Feel Like A Man" (Decca, 1971) (LP)
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