The "twangcore" and "Americana" boom of today owes a large debt to the shaggy twangers and no-hit wonders of yesteryear -- this section looks at the hippiebilly and stoner bands and a few odd, random artists from the 1960s, '70s and early '80s, back before there was anything called "alt-country." This page covers the letter "C."
Cabbage Crik "You Get What You Play For" (Kneedeep, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Cabbage Crik)
An adventurous modern bluegrass band from Michigan whose repertoire included grassed-up versions of songs by Elton John and Bob Dylan, as well as country and western oldies from Hank Williams and Bob Nolan, as well as a blistering cover of Don Reno's "Dixie Breakdown," and a sweeter heartsong ("You're No Longer A Sweetheart Of Mine") also from the Reno & Smiley catalogue. There's also a pair of nice original songs, "Piece Of Ground," by bassist Mark Schrock, and mandolin player Gary Kuitert's "From Michigan To Nashville, Tennessee," another one of those rueful it's-too-hard-to-make-it-in-Music-City tunes. Apparently these guys played together for many years, then branched off into different directions, reuniting in 2009 for a few one-off gigs. This is a nice record, basically straight-ahead bluegrass, but with enough of a country/rock undercurrent that it's worth noting here as well. A nice, unpretentious band with a good vibe.
Cabbage Crik "Whole Hearted... Half Headed" (Kneedeep, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Cabbage Crik, Craig R. King & Jim Curtis)
Another excellent set from this well-oiled band, with a strong, soulful string-swing undercurrent... Tight harmonies and fluid, playful arrangements set these guys a notch or two above many of their newgrass contemporaries... There's also more original material on this album, and a shift away from country and bluegrass oldies, with the band breezing through tunes like John Sebastian's "Lovin' You" and a version of Jerry Smith's "Truck Stop" which has an almost Mills Brothers-ish vocal arrangement. They also cover a Carson Robison classic, along with tunes written by bandmembers Gary Kuitert and Mark Schrock, as well as one credited to D. F. Lemke (who we would assume is related to guitarist Buck Lemke...?) Overall, a pretty swell album!
The Cache Valley Drifters "The Cache Valley Drifters" (Flying Fish, 1978)
This popular California bluegrass band mixed modern folk songs from the likes of Kate Wolf with 'grassed-up versions of old country tunes and Tin Pan Alley standards. Mandolinist Bill Griffin was a member of Kate Wolf's band, while the other members were in a variety of off-the-radar groups before joining to form the Drifters. On ther debut, they covered John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery" and Bob Wills' "Roly Poly" alongside Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sherriff" and the folk standard "Columbus Stockade." A fine example of the eclectic spirit of yesteryear.
The Cache Valley Drifters "Step Up To Big Pay" (Flying Fish, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Diamant)
Another fun set, with some sweet, melodic picking and a light touch that's nice to hear, even as they deliver some dazzling licks. The repertoire is the real key here, with songs drawn from sources such as Benny Goodman and Louis Jordan from the big band era, folkies like Gordon Bok and John Prine, as well as Tom Lehrer's cowboy satire, "The Wild West Is Where I Long To Be," and a twangy version of the Grateful Dead's "Cumberland Blues," which later made it onto a compilation album of Dead cover songs. A nice album, very reflective of the mellow, eclectic sensibilities of Northern California's folk scene.
The Cache Valley Drifters "Tools Of The Trade" (Flying Fish, 1983) (LP)
The Cache Valley Drifters "White Room" (CMH, 1996)
The Cache Valley Drifters "Mightyfine.net" (Taxim, 1999)
Cactus Country Band "Flor Del Rio" (Hacienda Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by James Lisenba & Jerry McCord)
Singers Janie C. Ramirez and Hilario Ramirez fronted this Tex-Mex-meets-twang band from Corpus Christi, Texas, playing a mix of classic country hits ("Paper Roses," "Pretty Fraulein," "Jambalaya" and "Margaritaville") and traditional Mexican folk and ranchera tunes. They recorded several albums, which I hopefully can track down soon.
Cactus Jim & The Wranglers "Western Christmas" (Diplomat Records, 196-?) (LP)
A pretty straightforward set of holiday-themed budget-label twang. The tunes are mostly Christmas standards, with a few secular western tunes tossed in as well (doubtless from random sessions left in the vault). The most promising (and original) title here is "Wait For The Wagon (On Christmas Day)." Anyone out there know more about the mysterious Mr. Jim?
Roy Cagle "...And Snuff Ridge" (Chris Records) (LP)
Louisiana's Roy Cagle was a country singer, but he also sure loved that old rock'n'roll, as heard in the several Chuck Berry covers on this album. This session was recorded in Shreveport, though I don't know who was backing him in the studio. Other songs include stuff by Bobby Braddock, Buck Owens, and a version of Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights."
Jeffrey Cain "For You" (Warner Brothers, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Turner & Stuart Kutchins)
This is a little more folkie and maybe too hippie-dippy for our purposes here, but I gotta give this album a shout-out since the backing band is basically the Youngbloods -- Joe Bauer, Lowell "Banana" Levenger and Jesse Colin Young -- accompanying Marin County songwriter Jeffrey Cain, who plays guitar throughout. Now, don't get me wrong: I think this is actually a pretty cool record, particularly for those of you who are into the whole "freak folk" thing. On many tracks, Cain croons and noodles around in a spacy, Banhart-ian fashion, maybe a little Tim Hardin-y in his more cohesive moments. On a couple of the more overtly goofy tracks, he even sounds a little like John Prine, and of course he recalls Jesse Colin Young on a tune or two. This is an amazingly un-commercial album -- I'm sure Warner Brothers wasn't kidding when they placed a track on their "Loss Leaders" promo record -- and if you like hardcore, stonerdelic hippie music, this is the real deal. I dunno what they were smoking out in Point Reyes back in 1970, but you can definitely catch a little whiff of it here.
Jeffrey Cain "Whispering Thunder" (Warner Brothers/Raccoon Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Jesse Colin Young)
Gordon Calcote "Going Home For The Last Time" (Custom, 1967-?) (LP)
Singer Gordon Calcote was one of the rare cheapie label artists who got proper credits on the budget-line albums he recorded... Like many country singers in the days of yore, Calcote had a day job in radio, at first as a deejay on stations such as KAYO-AM in Seattle (where he was on air in the early '60s) and later as a program director and station manager various stations in Southern California, where he was probably working when he started recording for the Custom label. And the thing is, he was also a pretty good singer - rugged, robust, but also working in the suave, sophisticated style being pioneered by Glen Campbell at the time. A good mix of manly honky-tonk and the nascent countrypolitan sound that was starting to come into vogue... and all on an under-the-radar, fly-by-night label. Definitely worth a spin!
Gordon Calcote "Folsom Prison Blues" (Custom, 1968-?) (LP & MP3)
Gordon Calcote "Galveston And Other Pop Country & Western Favorites" (Crown, 1969-?) (LP)
J. J. Cale - see artist discography
The Calhoun Twins "Country Jet Set" (Stop, 1967) (LP)
In addition to making perky, upbeat country music, twin brothers Jack and Jerry Calhoun were also avid pilots, running an independent commercial air service that catered to showbiz clientele. (Hence the album title and the airplane pictured on the cover...) Their Florida airfield was the site of the 1982 plane crash that killed Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist, Randy Rhoads, but they stayed in business well into the 21st Century, and also kept making music, releasing several CDs in addition to the LPs listed here. This was their first album, and it's pretty lively stuff, a mix of Buck Owens-y bounce and old-school hillbilly romp. They didn't get far in the national charts. but they sure made some fun music!
The Calhoun Twins "Country Jet Set, v.2" (Stop, 1970) (LP)
The Calhoun Twins "The Calhoun Twins" (Prize Records, 1971) (LP)
The Calhoun Twins "Goin' To The Dogs" (Marathon, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Taylor & Shot Jackson)
Calico "Calico" (United Artists, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Allan Reynolds & Garth Fundis)
Second-string countrypolitan/country-rock from Texas, with iffy vocals but a wealth of serious talent in the studio: Buddy Spicher on fiddle, Lloyd Green playing pedal steel, Bobby Thompson on guitar, adding a few extra licks behind the band. Top Forty fans will notice youngsters Allan Reynolds and Garth Fundis paying their dues as journeymen producers -- later they'd become two of Nashville's major heavy-hitters. Singer Jerry Oates seems to have been the driving force in this band -- he wrote most of he songs and sang some of the lead vocals, along with pianist Keith Impellitier. This is hardly a classic, but fans of '70s country-rock and soft-pop might want to check it out. The band often reminds me of less-fortunate (non-major label) acts like Greezy Wheels and Chuck Wagon who were also on the scene at the time... (Footnote: apparently steel player Tom Morrell was in an early lineup of the band, but he wasn't on this album... Anyone have more info about their history?)
Calico "Volume II" (United Artists, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Butler)
The California Band "California" (MCF Records) (EP)
This six-song EP featured contributions from Bruce Crosby and Lisa Iskin, with pedal steel player Joe Goldmark playing on one track, "First Waltz."
California Champs "1974: Country Western" (Trac Records, 1974) (LP)
A swell all-instrumental set from three talented old-timers from California's Central Valley. Fiddlers Coy Daily and Vern Keathly are joined by rhythm guitarist Nellie O'Neal for a nice set of antebellum oldies, Irish and Appalachian tunes and country covers. Then calling themselves Coy's Group, the informal trio competed in -- and won -- the music competition at the 1974 Auburn State Fair, giving them the impetus to record this album on the Fresno-based Trac label. Coy Daily was probably the most experienced musician in the band -- born in Oklahoma, he came out West in 1940 and played professionally in some western swing bands before settling down in Salida, California, near Modesto. His son Ron plays bass on this record and on another Trac Records disc credited to Coy Daily alone. Other local musicians chipping in are steel player Ivan Ward, Don Hyland (also spelled Heiland) on piano and a nice lead guitarist, Vern Baughman. Sweet stuff!
California Cowboys & Co. "The Colorful California Cowboys & Co." (A-Major Records, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by David Houston)
Though they seem to have been a struggling pizza parlour/fraternal club band, The California Cowboys nonetheless included several original songs into their covers-heavy repertoire. The band featured a trio of brothers -- David, Scott and Steve Preston, as well as Denise Preston, the wife of nineteen-year old Scott -- and was rounded out by a second "gal" singer, Donna Lynn Smith, who also played fiddle and wrote three of the songs on this album. Lead guitarist Steve Preston also offered an instrumental number, "Helmet Stomp." Unfortunately, the album neglects to tell us where the band was actually from. Alas.
California Express & Tex Williams "Tex Williams & California Express" (Garu Records, 1981) (LP)
Yup, sure enough, it's that Tex Williams, a hilllbilly-era star in his twilight years, playing a bunch of classics and oldies, on what may have been his last album. The backing band were a bunch of shaggy 'Seventies longhairs, including his daughters Jenny and Sandi Williams, as well as Sam Aiello, who I believe was his son-in-law (married to Sandi). I'm not sure if California Express was primarily Williams' band, or if they had a career of their own -- at some point fomer child actor and roller derby queen Tammy Locke sang with the group -- the rest of the band included Russ and Dennis Orr, and Michael Reid. I think this may have been their only album, and I believe it was Tex Williams' last.
The California Poppy Pickers "Honky Tonk Women" (Alshire, 1969) (LP)
The Poppy Pickers was a made-up, prefab easy-listening exploitaband of unnamed, semi-anonymous studio musicians, thrown together by Southern California musical huxter Gary Paxton. They recorded several "greatest hits" knockoff albums, often resonant with Bakersfield twang, though the source material not always country-rock oriented, by any means. This album included covers of "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, The Youngbloods' "Get Together," CCR's "Born On The Bayou" and "Proud Mary," along with other pop and rock hits of the day. I'm not totally up on who was in this band when, but it's possible that guitarist Dennis Payne might have been in on these sessions.
California Quickstep "Open For Bluegrass" (A-Major Records, 1987) (LP)
(Produced by David Houston)
The happy remnants of Sacramento's late-'70s/early '80s South Loomis Quickstep bluegrass band regrouped in the high country, recording this relaxed set, 'way up in Placerville, with Allan Hendricks on banjo, Tom Bentley on guitar and Ted Smith, mandolin... As ever, they mixed some country and roots material in with the 'grass, including Townes Van Zandt's Pancho and Lefty," J.J. Cale's "If You're Ever In Oklahoma" and the Grandpa Jones oldie, "Eight More Miles To Louisville" along with more overtly high lonesome material...
California Slim "On The Mall" (Slim Records) (LP)
A self-released album by street busker California Slim, a familiar face on the Santa Cruz mall, back in the early 1980s. He sings sparsely-arranged acoustic folk and blues tunes, in the style of Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie, with a mix of folk standards like "Strawberry Roan" and "John Henry," cowboy songs and old country blues. He's joined by a trio of Santa Cruzers, including bassist Karen Quick who was a singer in the local bluegrass band, Sidesaddle. The album kicks off with a couple of his own original songs, "City Streets" and "On The Mall," topical/slice of life songs, and ends with "Ballad Of Mount St. Helens," which gives a nod to Slim's earlier years in the Pacific Northwest... It also helps date this (undated) album as being at least sometime after Mount St. Helens' famous 1980 eruption. Anyone have more info about this disc?
California Slim "Wine, Women, Roses And You" (Slim Records)
California Slim "A Time Ago..." (Slim Records, 1984)
A historically-minded tribute to the workers who powered America's great era of industrialization... Looks like Slim was again backed by some local NorCal folkie/bluegrassers...
California Zephyr "California Zephyr" (Iron Horse, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by California Zephyr & Gary Boyd)
A far-ranging album from this longhaired twangband from Napa Valley, California... They make some nods towards their roots, with covers of "Cripple Creek," "Blackberry Blossom," "I Fall To Pieces" and -- more modernly -- of Steve Goodman's "City Of New Orleans," but mostly this disc is packed with original material credited to bandmembers Alan Arnopole (guitar, banjo), Doug Benson (mandolin, guitar) and bassist Mark Raus, with fiddler Mark Masarek adding some sweet licks, but sitting it out as far as songwriting goes. The group traverses a wide variety of styles -- bluegrass, honkytonk, dusty-road folk and even a bit of electric blues, with some licks added by their pal Tom ("T-Bone") Waldrop. You can look at this album critically and hear them hesitate and sound a bit stiff at times, though I think it's better to cut them some slack and just appreciate how eclectic and ambitious they were... The group made two albums in the 1970s that were fairly easy to find in Bay Area record bins, although later editions of the band, led by Alan Arnopole, also recorded a few CDs decades later...
California Zephyr "In The Saddle" (Iron Horse, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by California Zephyr & Gary Boyd)
I dunno why I was charmed by their first album, but got all grumpy about the second one... It seemed like good musicianship was obscured perhaps by an overly jokey attitude. The entire first side is too broadly drawn and too nudge-nudge, wink-wink for me, from the dramatically twangy, bluegrass-tinged cover of "Back In The Saddle Again," to the overly-drawled versions of Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother" and the Coon Elder Band's "I Ain't Really A Cowboy, I Just Found The Hat." Likewise, their gospel chorale arrangement of "Hallelujah, I'm A Bum" is a stylistic misfire... These are all great songs, and the choice of repertoire speaks well of the band, but at times their approach to the material feels too close to mockery or parody. Things pick up, though, when they start playing their own original material, solid songs mostly written by singers Doug Benson and Alan Arnopole, with Benson's "Empty Bottles" and "Tourist In The Land Of Love" being among the album's most durable tracks. This album made a big splash at the time -- pretty sure I remember hearing them played on KFAT a time or two -- but a lot of it doesn't hold up as well as it should.
Pat Callaway & Coby Callaway "Country Wine" (Country Wine Records, 1976) (LP)
The Callaways appear to have originally been from around Lubbock, Texas, and played in the Corpus Christi area in the 'Seventies. At the time this record came out they were doing supper-clug gigs at places such as Ray's Steakhouse, and had put together a revue called Pat And Coby Callaway's Donnybrook Show. This album includes eight originals written by Pat Callaway, including "Drunken Dusty Road" and "John Deere Foundry" which, along with several other tracks, appear to have been recycled on his solo album (below). There are also a bunch of cover songs, including "Delta Dawn," "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and "Let Me Be There," and even a Hank Williams medley. They seems to have split up as a duo act: the next album on this label was his solo release, while by the early 'Eighties, Coby Callaway was fronting a band called Coby & Spring, which included pianist Eric Lemons and guitarist Fender Tucker.
Pat Callaway "Pat Callaway" (Country Wine Records) (LP)
Bill Callery "Bill Callery" (Columbia/Lone Star, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Bucky Meadows & Bill Callery)
Classic cosmic cowboy stuff, a mix of spacey folk and unraveling twang... Callery's best known for having Willie Nelson include one of his songs on the Red Headed Stranger album, and for numerous songs of his that were recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker. Unfortunately he doesn't record his own version of "Hands On The Wheel" here, but Jerry Jeff fans will recognize a bunch of the other songs: "Leroy," "The Pot Can't Call The Kettle Black," as well as Callery's cover of Chuck Pyle's "Jaded Lover," also best known from Walker's classic version. Callery didn't have a super-killer voice or anything, but his songs are nice and the record's vibe is both earthy and mellow, the same kind of laid-back approach to country and bar-band music that will resonate with fans of Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Jeff Walker, or Rusty Weir. The backup band includes legendary fiddler Tommy Jackson; other than that, I don't recognize any of the names, although their performances are all rock solid, particularly the lead guitar from the album's co-producer Bucky Meadows, a veteran session musician who dropped out of the Nashville rat race and became a mainstay of the Texas indie scene. This album is definitely worth tracking down; I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't get reissued... someday.
The Calton Family "The Old And New" (Professional Artist Recording Company, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Parvin Tramel & Dick Grady)
A family band, with Charles Calton on fiddle and mandolin, joined by Jimmy Bunch on banjo... They play a mix of (mostly) bluegrass and country, including a Paul Craft song, one by Mel Tillis and a tune called "My Oklahoma" by Steve Young, along with bluegrass and old-timey tunes by Flatt & Scruggs, the Carter Family and others. There's one original, "Minor Repairs," composed by Jimmy Bunch. They recorded in Saint Louis, though I'm not 100% sure if they were from Missouri, but Mr. Bunch certainly was: he was a founding member of the Missouri-based bluegrass band, Cedar Hill, and also worked at Silver Dollar City and other regional Ozark venues.
Cambridge "Share A Song" (Green Dolphin, 1977) (LP)
Billy Campbell & The Country Boys "Country And Western Instrumental Guitar Favorites" (Broadcast Records/ARA) (LP)
A set of twangy guitar instrumentals with a bouncy '60s feel... I couldn't find much info on this one, but it's kind of a fun record.
Billy Campbell "Make The World Go Away" (Crown Records) (LP)
More guitar instrumentals... I'm not sure if this is the same Billy Campbell as above, but I'd guess there's a good chance it is...
Clay & Vicki Campbell "Clay & Vicki Campbell" (Phone Records, 1975) (LP)
The Campbells were a country lounge duo from Bland, Missouri (that's a place, not a value judgment...) They were very young, although poking around online I couldn't determine whether they were they married or siblings. Anyone know for sure? This studio album was recorded at Kajac Studios in Carlisle, Iowa.
Clay & Vicki Campbell "Live!" (C&V Records, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Clay Campbell)
This live album -- recorded at the Paddock Steakhouse in South Sioux City, Nebraska -- captures their country music stage show, complete with comedy skits and impersonations of Nashville stars such as Freddy Fender, Hank Snow and Marty Robbins. Clay plays fiddle while Vicki Campbell sings a version of Jessi Colter's 1975 hit, "I'm Not Lisa" as well as the "Girl's Medley."
Clay Campbell "Clay Campbell" (Fiddler Records) (LP)
He released two self-titled solo albums with different cover art on each one -- it's possible they're the same record, re-released, but I dunno for sure. Yet.
Sonny Campbell "Let's Go Country With Songs By Sonny Campbell" (SC/Let's Go Country, 196--?) (LP)
This was an older album, probably from the 1960s (?) with kind of a rockabilly feel. Campbell apparently played at a club called The Coral (I think they meant "Corral," but it's clearly and consistently misspelled...) and had some kind of traction of radio station WJRZ 970, a Newark, New Jersey AM station which had a country format in the late '60s... Other than that, this guy's a bit of a mystery... The album has a plain white cover, with no graphics on the back, so there's not much info to go on. (There's also a later edition with a photo of Campbell and his band playing live...) Feel free to contact me if you know more about this guy, or this album...
The Campbell Trio "Alabama Bluegrass" (Binge Disc/Cattle Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by R. C. Smith)
An all-gospel set, by a family band from Leighton, Alabama. The main trio -- T. R. Campbell (vocals, guitar), his wife Pearl Campbell (rhythm guitar, vocals) and their teenage son, bassist Terry Campbell -- started playing together in 1970, and performed local and regional shows, mostly at bluegrass festivals and the like. This session was recorded in March, 1975 at the Mrs. Campbell's family home, with a couple of her relatives chiming in, including her sister Belle Terry on harmony vocals and brother Earl Terry on banjo. This was literally a living room recording session, about as "down home" as you can get!
Bill Camplin "January" (Tool Room Records, 1973)
(Produced by Bill Camplin & Bob Schwartz)
Bill Camplin "Cardboard Box" (Tool Room, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Camplin)
Wisconsin folkie Bill Camplin has made a bunch of records over the years, though I don't know if they are all as sweet and sweetly layered with country touches as this early gem. Fans of Jesse Winchester and Tim Hardin should love this record as well; it's definitely in that same range, with smooth vocals and deceptively simple acoustic arrangements buoyed by dobro and pedal steel... All but three of the songs were Camplin's, with covers including Bob Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" and a jaunty rendition of Hank Williams' "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You." Really nice stuff... Yeah, he's really a folk singer, but with enough of a rich, country-tinged musical backdrop that I'm into it. Recommended!
Bill Camplin "Bill Camplin's Latest Effort/Still Looking For The Cure" (Tool Room, 1976)
The Can Band "To Our Friends" (A & R Records, 197--?) (LP)
A folk/country foursome from Minnesota(?) whose repertoire is heavy on original material, ranging stylistically from Kingston Trio-ish earnest folk, to even more earnest bluegrass, as well as a little bit of Oak Ridge Boys-ish melodic country-pop. This was recorded at Moon Sound Studios, Minneapolis, with bandmembers Doug Larson, Bob Hoch, Dave Saving and John Williams joined by several other pickers, notably steel player Jeff Dayton. Heartfelt performances by earnest amateurs.
Canadian Zephyr "A Country Mile Better" (RCA-Canada, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Craig Ruhnke & David Peever)
Canadian Zephyr "Zephyr" (RCA-Canada, 1980) (LP)
Jack Cannon "Jack Cannon Country" (TIM - Tops In Music, 1975) (LP)
This guy lived in Milton, Florida, and was an amateur singer who went to Pensacola to record this album with a band that was at least partly session players. The repertoire is mostly cover tunes, including versions of classics such as "I Love You So Much It Hurts," "Night Train To Memphis," "The Wild Side Of Life" "I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name" -- real old-school stuff. The backing band was called the Stranders and appears to have been all locals, with steel guitar by Curtis Hall, Junior Colley on lead and piano by Vaughn Thacker. The album also includes a couple of original songs written by a guy named Wally Willette: "Come On In, Mr. Blues" and "I'm Over Here, My Heart's Over There." Willette wasn't in Cannon's band, but he seems to have been pals with Papa Ray Sims, who appears to have been the financial backer of this album, and contributed the liner notes.
Jack Cannon "The Same Old Boy With Old Southern Memories" (Redwing Records) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Jernigan & Bruce Watkins)
Joe Cannon "Cold Hard Times" (Bell, 1970) (LP)
Originally from Rhode Island, actor/singer Jean Peloquin headed out for California during the swinging '60s and lucked out in landing a role as "Gene, the singing ranch hand," on the western-themed TV series, The Virginian. He appeared in twelve episodes from 1968-69, and was able to parlay that gig into recording his first album, under the more butch-sounding "Joe Cannon." Under that name he kicked around with Lee Hazelwood for a while, then briefly moved up to San Francisco and made a living singing in bars. At some point in the early '70s he left California in favor of the even more frontiers-y locale of Pocatello, Idaho, where he became a permanent fixture on the local bar-band scene.
Joe Cannon "Smoke (Original Soundtrack)" (Viking, 1971) (LP)
This film had some kind of connection to Lee Hazelwood, as did Cannon, in his Hollywood days. I think Hazelwood directed or financed this film; Joe Cannon also recorded some of Hazelwood's songs early in his career... I haven't heard any of that stuff, though...
Joe Cannon "City Boy's Country Dream" (JDJ, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Terry Brown & Donnie Owens)
I suppose this is the record you could call Joe Cannon's magnum opus -- his live albums might be better indicators of what he was like as a performer, but he obviously really put his heart into this one. It's an ambitious album full of original material with lofty lyrics and sweeping, cosmic-country arrangements... There's also some relatively down-to-earth twang, but mostly this is a record that aims big and goes long... There's also some sweet pedal steel work by West Coast stalwart J. D. Maness. Yeah, I'm sure it'd be easy for some of you out there to mock the pretensions of this album, but still, the guy was really going for it and stepped way outside the world of ski lodge lounge gigs that were his bread and butter. It's worth a spin, for sure.
Joe Cannon "Gettin' Down... In The Valley" (JDJ, 1975-?) (LP)
To be honest, this one's a little hard to listen to... A live album with lots of rambling, drunken chatter by Joe Cannon, who's performing solo with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica and a lot of balls-out bluster. He trades good natured jibes with the audience and does his best to suck up to the locals, adapting a pop hit into "Please Come To Pocatello" and telling the long, long back story to his own local-pride song, "Sun Valley Sally." He also covers Jimmy Buffett ("Come Monday," though he teases the crowd with the promise of singing Buffett's "Why Don't We Get Drunk And Screw") and there's also a real trainwreck of a John Denver medley. The album closes with his version of "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother," where he one-ups Ray Wylie Hubbard in the crudeness quotient, and gives a hint of how wild his live shows actually might have been. It's a good, honest portrait of a sloppy bar-band country act, but it's not really that enjoyable to hear. Guess you had to be there.
Joe Cannon "Live At The Crazy Horse" (JDJ, 197--?) (LP)
Cannon was a regular at the Crazy Horse Steak House, located in the wild, beige backwoods of Southern California's Orange County. I dunno when this album was recorded, but Cannon was booked at the club at least through the early 1990s. At that point, he had a finely honed comedy-country schtick, including lots of blue humor and general raunchiness. (A 1990 article in The LA Times makes it sound like a scene to be seen... with a highlight actually being when he opened the merch table and there was a buying frenzy for Cannon's "While You're Down There, Make My Day" belt buckles. Somehow, I don't think his version of "Sometimes When We Touch" was quite as chaste as the Dan Hill original...)
Joe Cannon "Rough Side Out" (White Rabbit, 1984) (LP)
The Cantrells "Roy And Cindy" (Label Unknown, Date Unknown) (LP)
This one's a real DIY ultra-obscuro -- the husband-and-wife team of Roy and Cindy Cantrell were apparently a mainstream-oriented country duo from Waco, Texas, who toured throughout the South and Midwest, and had at least one appearance on the Opry stage. This is all according to the color-xeroxed pamphlet that was stapled to this bare-bones LP -- which otherwise it has no album art whatsoever, and no other information besides the song titles listed in the inner labels. According to the booklet, Roy Cantrell saw Johnny Cash play a show in Anchorage, Alaska and was inspired to try to become a country music singer himself... They first made a go of it in 1963 when a New York City club owner helped them cut some singles in LA, and they went to Nashville twice, in '63 and '66, but both times Music City crushed their dreams -- the pamphlet ruefully describes how they had to pawn their guitars just to get cab fare and money for food. There's a Billboard column from 1967 that mentions them as being signed to the Kash label, but I'm not sure if they ever released anything. They were still touring the Midwest as late as 1972, when their backup band was nicknamed Cantrell's Raiders. As for the date this LP came out, I'd guess anywhere from 1968-73, obviously self-released as a show memento, but done so cheaply that they decided to not even create any graphics at all. (Did this album actually come out with artwork? Anyone know for sure?) It's good music, with a few cover tunes (such as "Hello City Limit") but mostly original material, as far as I can tell (there are no song credits, either...) The performances are generally pretty good, with twangy, old-school musicianship and vocals that remind me of Carl Smith and Loretta Lynn, though the vocals like the arrangements and the production values are pretty variable -- my guess is that these ten tracks were recorded at different times, over several years, possibly dating back to their first studio session in '63. If anyone has any info about this fine, forgotten duo, I'd love to hear more about them!
The Capitals "The Capitals" (Rising Star Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Colonel Dave Mathes)
I think these guys were primarily a gospel group, although they covered country hits such as "Daddy Sang Bass" and "This Ole House," with backing by Nashville pros such as Buddy Emmons, Jerry Shook and Russ Hicks in the studio crew. The first track is a patriotic number, Barbara J. Anton's "Hot Dog! I'm American!"
Jim Caplette "Got No Mind For Another" (Big Chief Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Bruce Thomson & Joe Kozak)
A nice one by Canadian humorist and author Jim Caplette (1924-2015) who also turned his hand to music in the early 1970s. This is a really nice, low-key album of mellow folk-country... Reminds me quite a bit of George Hamilton IV's music of the same era. Recommended!
Allan Capson "Long Time Remembering" (Marathon Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Taylor)
This was the first album by Canadian country picker Allan Capson, a songwriter from Moncton, New Brunswick who broke through when his tune, "Alberta Country Soil" was recorded by Christian singer Marg Osburne and became a regional hit. On his debut, Capson is mostly given hits of the day to record, including a few dreary choices, like "Proud Mary," "Down in the Boondocks" and "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." A little more fun are tunes like "Loving Her Was Easier" and the hippiedelic "One Toke Over the Line," by Brewer & Shipley. There's a strong folk-pop tilt to this album, but definitely some twang in there as well, particularly with the sweet, cosmic, Garcia-esque pedal steel prominent in the mix.
Allan Capson "Country Lane In My Mind" (Marthon Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Taylor & Ken Friesen)
This time around, it's mostly self-penned material, although he does sing a few cover songs, such as "Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me," "Here Comes The Sun," and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." Also, it's basically the same group of musicians on both albums, including Steve Smith on steel guitar.
Carlen & Spencer "If I Had A Nickel" (1982) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Sexton)
Hugh Carlen and Greggory Spencer were a strummy acoustic duo from Buffalo, Kentucky who beefed out their sound with some zippy pedal steel licks, courtesy of Larry Williams... I guess technically this is twang, although their music had a predominantly gooey, strummy, naifish folk-funk vibe. The album was recorded at a studio sponsored by the Lincoln Jamboree, though I'm not sure if these guys were connected with the venue itself.
Ken Carlysle & The Cadillac Cowboys "Live!! At The Black Stallion" (Carlysle & Kimbro Music, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Ken Carlysle)
A raunchy live set recorded live in November, 1979 at a country club in Bettendorf, Iowa...
Ken Carlysle & The Cadillac Cowboys "The Black Album" (Inglewood, 1981) (LP)
Another "blue" album of oh-so-naughty songs by Illinois-based songwriter Ken Carlysle, who is known for the infamous "Itty Bitty Titty Song..."
Joey Carmon & Crossbow "Joey Carmon And Crossbow" (Crossbow Records, 1983) (LP)
Country-pop hopefuls from El Paso, Texas... Singer Joey Carmon was originally from Kentucky and met songwriter Dave DuChane while stationed in Hawaii on military service. They played together at NCO clubs and other similar gigs, and eventually wound up in Texas, where they started the band Crossbow in 1980. They recorded two albums, the first being a studio recording packed with original material and a few covers. Carmon had a soft, croony streak to his vocals, reminiscent of Don Williams, which is matched by the often synthy/tinkly arrangements which reflect the sound of early '80s Nashville. Most of the songs on here were written by Dave DuChane, including several written with Joey Carmon. This album also includes a banjo-driven cover of Billy Joel's "Travellin' Prayer," an early song from '74 that had a kind of country-ish feel, as well as a version of Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle," which kind of gives you a sense of where these guys were coming from... Perhaps a little too soft-sounding for many twangfans, but still a nice indie album, with more of a Top Forty feel.
Joey Carmon & Crossbow "Live At Caravan East" (Crossbow Records, 1984) (LP)
A live set from a local El Paso club... Love the cover art showing the messed-up, partially burned marquee!
Joey Carmon & Crossbow "Anthology" (1995) (CD)
This CD gathers material from the band's 'Eighties albums, just ten tracks total, with several songs concentrated on Carmon's guitar picking and banjo plunkin'.
B. J. Carnahan "You Ain't Never Had Lonesome" (History Records, 1974)
(Produced by Gordon Terry & Charlie Bragg)
Apparently Missouri native Billy Joe Carnahan was an old fishing buddy of Johnny Cash's -- that's what Mr. Cash says in his liner notes -- and they were stationed together in Germany when Cash was in the Army, before he came home and started his music career. So, they go back a ways. Carnahan recorded this album at Cash's studio, the House Of Cash, with his own local band augmented by studio pros such as Jimmy Capps, Charlie McCoy, drummer D. J. Fontana, Hargus Robbins and Earl Ball on piano, and hillbilly old-timer Gordon Terry playing fiddle, as well as producing the album. Terry also contributes one song to the album, "I Get Lonely Easy," though most of the songs are Carnahan originals, either written by him of by his relative Frank Carnahan. The band includes his brother Bob on bass, as well as several teenagers adding a youthful vibe, and gal singer Geri Whipple who is highlighted on a couple of duets, notably a version of "Jackson" which closes the album out. (Footnote: Cash also says that he used Carnahan's name in the song "Don't Take Your Guns To Town" when he recorded it years earlier... how's that for a little behind-the-scenes country music lore??)
Kim Carter "The Tammy Wynette Songbook" (Buckboard Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Owen)
Not sure who Kim Carter was (or if that was her real name) but outside of these two soundalike albums for the cheapie label, Buckboard Records, Carter doesn't seem to have left much of a dent in the annals of the country canon. Still, recording a couple of LPs ain't bad...
Kim Carter "The Dolly Parton Songbook" (Buckboard Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Walker)
Carolina Charlie & The Heavy Cowboys "Live -- Featuring Slim Bryant" (Lancers Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Carolina Charlie)
This country-meets-bluegrass set was recorded in January, 1976 at Donk's Theater in Matthews, Virginia, an old movie theater which had only months earlier been re-opened as a country music venue, soon to be nicknamed Virginia's Lil' Ole Opry. I'm not sure if the names of the guys in the band were meant to be joke aliases -- Buck Rodgers, Muskrat Reames, Buddy Holiday, Billy Kidd and Gary Lovelace, but singer Thomas Hoyt ("Slim") Bryant was the real deal, a veteran of the pre-Nashville hillbilly scene, and had even backed Jimmie Rodgers on some of his later sessions in the early '30s. "Carolina Charlie" was Charlie D. Wiggs (1931-1993) a North Carolina native who settled down in Virginia Beach, working in radio and in a wide variety of country bands, notably with this group, the Heavy Cowboys.
Bob Carpenter "Silent Passage" (Warner Reprise, 1975)
(Produced by Brian Ahern)
An obscura-holics country-folk dream record, this featured Canadian singer-songwriter Bob Carpenter, backed by an all-star cast gathered together by producer Brian Ahern... Rising stars Emmylou Harris and Anne Murray sing harmony, while Lowell George and Bill Payne of Little Feat play on several songs, along with bluegrass banjo whiz Bill Keith, and many other '70s roots music heavy-hitters. The truth of it is, though, that I didn't actually care much for this record... I didn't dislike it, but it wasn't really my cup of tea -- a little too folkie, I guess. But it's certainly a lost gem worth looking for and checking out if you're a tried and true hippiebilly fan... How could you resist??
Buddy Carpenter "Buddy Carpenter" (Ripcord, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Blaine H. Allen)
Someday I'm gonna figure out the release dates of all these old Ripcord records... Until then, though, let's just say "sometime in the 1970s..." This album features a lot of cover songs, including tunes by Bob Wills, Liz Anderson and others, as well as two written by Buddy Carpenter, "I'm A Country Singer" and "Daddy Play Over The Waves." He also covers a Boxcar Willie song, and thanks him in the liner notes as someone who encouraged his career.
Freddy Carr "Freddy's Favorites" (DEL Records, 196--?) (LP)
Originally from the Carolinas, Freddy Carr headed for Hollywood when he was young, and then backtracked to try and make it big in Nashville. I think he was in Nashville when he cut this record, which is mostly cover tunes by folks like Don Gibson, Buck Owens and Hank Williams, played in a fun, slightly manic style. There's no date on the album, but I'm getting kind of a 1966 vibe, if that helps.
Marcy Carr "How Many Heartaches" (OL Records) (LP)
(Produced by Overton Lee)
Vernon Carr "Roots Of My Raisin' " (Glory Barn Sound, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Hargraves & John Moseley)
This custom label country-gospel album was recorded at the legendary Cavern Studios in Kansas City... Vernon Carr was an old-school country singer who grew up in Bakersfield, but moved to the Kansas City area later in life and became a prominent country gospel (as opposed to Southern gospel) performer. He also recorded at least one secular hard-country single in his youth ("Country Music Fever"/"Breaking Point") and includes a Hank Williams oldies on this album.
Judy Carrier "From The Berkshires To The Smokies" (Grass Country Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Robby Osborne)
Well-known on the East Coast festival scene, bluegrass singer Judy Carrier (nee Judy Ann Reed) was a veteran performer from the Massachusetts-based Pioneer Valley Jamboree, where she and her husband Whitey Carrier (1919-1976) were known as "the Bluegrass Sweethearts." She was also a talented and prolific songwriter, penning most of the songs on this album. The backing band includes some real pros, among them Tater Tate on fiddle, Wynn Osborne (banjo), Robby Osborne (guitar), Jack Tottle (mandolin), Gene Wooten (dobro, banjo), Terry Wehnt (pedal steel guitar) and Jim Brock on bass. I'm not totally sure of the date, but I think this was recorded in 1983, several years after her husband passed away.
Vernon Carrier & Judy Ann Reed "Pioneer Valley Jamboree" (Jay-Vac Records, 19--?) (LP)
The Pioneer Valley Jamboree was a country variety show hosted weekends on radio station WREB, in Holyoke, Massachusetts... It was started in 1963 by a guy named Lee Roberts, and showcased numerous regional artists, including the husband and wife duo of Judy Ann Reed and Vernon A. ("Whitey") Carrier. They were featured performers in the late '60s, professionally nicknamed "the Bluegrass Sweethearts." This album featured mostly bluegrass-y/traditionally oriented material, tunes like "Nine Pound Hammer," "Ashes Of Love," and "Blue Kentucky Girl," with a hefty dose of sentimental mountain songs and gospel tunes such as "Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies." The original Pioneer Valley Jamboree fell apart at some point, but the name was revived in the early 1980s for a local folk/bluegrass festival. Whitey Carrier passed away in 1976, in his late 'fifties.
Milton Carroll "Milton Chesley Carroll" (RCA, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Pete Spargo & Jack Maher)
An excellent debut from Texas native Milton Carroll, who mixes strong original material with soulful covers of songs such as Elton John's "Country Comfort," Jesse Winchester's "Yankee Lady" and "Love Of The Common People," a recent hit for Waylon Jennings. In the liner notes, Carroll cites Fred Neil as an influence, and you can definitely hear his funky-bluesy, husky vocal style in some of these songs, with a few tracks getting almost as swampy as a Tony Joe White, aided in no small part by strong musical backing that includes dobro and steel guitar from Eric Weissberg. Also notable are the contributions of songwriter Tony Lordi, who was a staff writer for RCA at the time, and whose "Sweet Country Music" is an album highlight. This is a really good record, and certainly deserves a little attention in the world of digital rediscovery!
Milton Carroll "Blue Skies" (Columbia/Lone Star, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Milton Carroll & Friends)
Another oddball gem from Willie Nelson's short-lived Lone Star imprint... Songwriter Milton Carroll croons in a bluesy, world-weary twang, often evoking the laconic Jerry Jeff Walker, but also harkening back to rugged, spacey folkies such as Fred Neil and Tom Rush. This includes some sweet licks from steel guitar players Jimmy Day and Buddy Emmons, although most of the other musicians aren't familiar to me. The Jerry Jeff-ish "Sweet Country Music" is a highlight for the twang-oriented among us, though he slips into a much bluesier mode by the end of Side One, particularly on the long, slow, doleful version of Percy Mayfield's "Danger Zone." Other notable numbers include the oddly morbid ".45 Slug" ("...falling in love's like a .45 slug/in your head/falling in love's like a .45 slug/bang you're dead.") as well as the cosmic cowboy vibe of "Life's Twisting Road," one of two more songs written by Tony Lordi, who apparently was a '50s/'60s rocker who penned a few nice twang tunes around this time... Another nice one from this little-known '70s twangster.
Milton Carroll "Life Of Christ" (Blue Stone, 1992)
At some point, Carroll turned towards religion, and has composed several Christian music songs, including this born-again concept album, co-written with a guy named Don Potter. Apparently country elders Roy Clark, Barbara Fairchild and Ricky Skaggs were all involved with this record, though I haven't heard it myself, so I don't know how much they contributed... I suppose fans of Southern Gospel and contemporary Christian music might want to check this out.
Tex Carson "Country Reminiscing" (Regime Records) (LP)
(Produced by Dave Wilson)
Nicknamed "the Smokey Valley Troubadour," Tex Carson was an old-school country singer from from Pennsylvania, here mostly covering country classics, stuff like "Candy Kisses," "The Green Green Grass Of Home" and "I Fall To Pieces." The album also includes one Tex Carson original, a holiday song called "Christmas Won't Be Coming (To Our House This Year)."
Fred Carter, Jr. "Blues Grass" (Gusto, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Fred Carter, Jr & Michael S. Stone)
One of the most highly regarded session players in Nashville, Fred Carter, Jr. played on countless indie label and "private" sessions, running his own studio in the early '70s that opened its doors to the flood of would-be stars who came to make records in Music City. Although he played on countless sessions, Carter only made a few records under his own name, and this is one of the best. An excellent album of music performed at the highest level, though still with plenty of soul and affection. Carter kicks things off in oldies mode, plucking through beautiful renditions of "Wildwood Flower" and "Rank Strangers," slowly moving towards a slightly grittier feel in some of the vocal numbers. He's backed in places by an unidentified female singer, though mostly he handles the vocals himself, and his rugged, easygoing style provides an interesting contrast to his sleek, super-perfect picking. Indeed, by album's end the artist he most reminded me of was John Hartford, who had a similar mix of resolute rootsiness and undeniable virtuosity. The only really goopy moment comes on his version of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer," but since Mr. Carter created those guitar parts, I figure we can cut him a little slack... And sure enough, give that track a chance and you'll love hearing how he fleshed out those iconic melodies. Interesingly enough, even though he was a mega-studio insider, Carter's backed here by a cadre of little-known pickers, who take the music into a bluegrassy direction... Sounds great! Highly recommended.
Jenny Carter "Layback With Jenny Carter" (Carto Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Glore)
This looks promising. I'm not sure when this self-released album came out or what it sounds like, but I sure am curious... Jenny Carter was a Memphis-area musician who entered a songwriting competition in 1978 and played on local radio and TV. This album includes a lot of original material, all of it written or co-written by Ms. Carter, including a couple of tunes co-written with Cordell Jackson, a local realtor who also dabbled in music and music publishing. Not a lot of info about this one online... Anyone out there have any more to add?
John Cody Carter "When It Rains It Pours" (Lone Oak, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Jeff Newman)
Tide Cartwright "Tide Cartwright" (Cartwright Records, 1984) (LP)
A latter-day honkytonker from Myrtle Point, Oregon, Tide Carwright packed this album full of original material, writing all all but two of the songs on here... Cartwright also recorded a regional-pride single, "Keep Oregon Clean," which sadly is not included here.
Al Carvell "The Original Lone Star Cowboy" (Owl Records) (LP)
(Produced by Al Carvell)
A real-deal country old-timer, singer Allen L. Carvell (1906-1996) set out as a professional musician at age 17, one of countless traveling pickers who looked for live gigs and radio shows in the decades to come. He played all kinds of venues, including regular appearances on WSM, the home of the Grand Ole Opry, dating back to the Great Depression. This self-released album appears to draw on multiple sources -- his Nashville home studio sessions, old demos and radio performances, including some pretty rough-hewn recordings. All the songs are credited to Carvell, although some, like "I Dreamed My Mother Called My Name," have pretty familiar themes, as well as the decidely un-PC "She's My Black Faced Phelina Baby," which is a thinly-disguised cover of Ernest Tubb's "Filipino Baby." Along similar lines, the novelty number "Married To A Tree" might not sit well with some modern listeners: in it, the singer laments having hooked up with a gal who has false teeth and a wooden leg... My how the times have changed! This album is poorly produced, but rich with history and authenticity... and for those of us who enjoy old-geezer records, this one's a doozy!
The Cascade Mountain Boys "Loggin' And Lovin' " (Ripcord) (LP)
Not all the records made for the Ripcord label are related to the logging industry, but the ones that are can be a real hoot. This band, centered around songwriters Carl J. Klang III and L.W. Looney, was much more youthful and outlaw-ish than Ripcord stalwart Buzz Martin, but judging from their lyrics, they also felled their fair share of timber. A lot of great forestry-themed tunes on here, including "Brute Force And Ignorance" (what you need to succeed as a logger), "The High Lead Loggin' Song," "Loggin' And Lovin'," and "Let's All Help The Logger Sing The Blues." There are also several tracks that delve into the economics of the logging life -- "That's When It's Unemployment Time" -- and about the lifestyle itself, as on "Monday Morning Hangover Blues." Side Two of the album kicks off with the rock-tinged "Paycheck To Paycheck," the only track written just by Klang rather than the duo... It sounds very different from the rest of the record and I suspect it came out as a single first, and was successful enough that Klang and Looney got the chance to record an entire album. Most of the songs are way more country, and there's plenty of nice, melodic twang on here -- it's a fun, funny record. Great novelty material, but a fun record musically, as well. Anyone know what year this came out? I'm guessing 1977, '78... somewhere around there. (Footnote: later on, Klang apparently became a radical, far-right, anti-federalist Christian libertarian, writing songs like "Wheresoever Eagles Gather (The Ballad of Randy Weaver)" in honor of the 1992 Ruby Ridge shootout, "Get A Grip On Immigration" and -- I kid you not -- "It's All An Evil Rotten Conspiracy." I think I liked his stoner-logger days better...)
Jim Casey "Blue Oasis" (Prairie Wind, 1980)
A twangy set from Jim Casey, a songwriter from Nebraska who used to be in a rock band called The Smoke Ring, and went on to record several albums as a solo artist...
Eddie Cash "Eddie Cash" (Prairie Wind, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Lentini)
This album was more or less the swan song for singer Eddie Nash, a Memphis native who scored a regional hit in the late 1950s with his first single, a chunky rockabilly tune called "Doing All Right." Nash's later 45s didn't make much traction, though, and he never broke through like Elvis or Eddie Cochran, et. al. Eventually he made his way out to Vegas, where he headlined his own musical revue, and by the time he cut this album, Nash was working in sort of a Mac Davis white-soul-meets-country mode, an approach that works better at some times than others... These sessions also dovetail the career of his relative, Tennessee-born Jay Ramsey, a true musical chameleon who also skirted the edges of national fame. Ramsey started his career in the early '60s as a pre-Beatles teenpop rocker, moved onto Nashville and did quite well as a professional songwriter, then in later years decamped to Las Vegas, where he settled down to become a songwriting coach and artist manager. Along the way he played all kinds of stuff, including Beach Boys-y teenpop, white soul, and a wide range of twang. All the songs on this album are credited to Ramsey, including one tune, "The Saddest Song," which was previously recorded under his name on a 1973 single. Oddly, there are two different publishing companies involved, and two different styles: Side One of the album showcases five country-oriented tracks from Billy Bob Music, while Side Two is more pop oriented, and published through Surety Songs; Jay Ramsey is also listed as a background singer on this album. You can sort of struggle your way into appreciating the country stuff, but the pop side is pretty terrible, full of bombastic, brassy arrangements and overly-emotive vocals. Worth a spin for obscuro fans (you're reading this website, for a start...) but the second side of the album is honestly pretty bad. Sorry fellas, nothing personal, but I gotta call 'em like I see 'em.
Buzz Cason - see artist discography
Cass County Boys/Dave Dudley "Lonely Corner/I Feel A Cry Coming On" (Crown Records, 1966) (LP)
This in an archetypal bait-and-switch LP from the California-based el cheapo Crown Records label... The title track(s) are two random, leftover tracks from the career of trucker-country icon Dave Dudley, licensed or salvaged from Mercury Records, while the rest of the tracks are by an anonymous studio crew purporting to be the Cass Country Boys, a band that in its original incarnation as a cowboy trio was part of Gene Autry's Melody Ranch show in the 1940s and '50s. Whether any of the original members were in any way connected to these recordings is anyone's guess at this point... I'll defer to the uber-experts on this one, although my best guess is that they were actually a pickup band including bassist Glenn Cass and his guitar-pickin' brother, Norman Cass, who at the time were doing sessions with Crown's in-house bandleader Jerry Cole. Anyway, this album was supposed to look like a Dave Dudley record, and while there are two tracks on here that really were him, the rest of it's just filler from one of the countless fly-by-night sessions at the Crown studios.
Linda Cassady "Just Bein' Me" (Cinkay Records, 1977)
(Produced by Jack Logan)
The late '70s were kind of the last gasp of true-indie labels making it onto the Country charts, with the scrappy CinKay label being a prime example. Illinois-born singer/composer Linda Cassady wriggled her way onto Billboard's radar several times, but always 'way back in the Back Forty. At one point, Cassady was a member of the WWVA Jamboree, and had some success as a songwriter, with some of her stuff being recorded by second-tier stars such as Barbara Fairchild and Loretta Lynn's sister, Peggy Sue. This album is notable for its abundance of original material, with over half the songs written by Ms. Cassady and several other credited to Jim Hurley... pretty good stuff, too!
Linda Cassady "Just Bein' Me" (Amigo Records, 1981) (LP)
Castlemen's Run Country Grass Band "Live From Capitol Music Hall" (Mad Hatter Productions, 1980) (LP)
A longhair grass band from the Wheeling, West Virginia/Steubenville, Ohio area, performing live at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling. The set includes several original songs, along with covers of stuff like "Rocky Top" and other standards.
The Casuals "You Belong To My Heart" (SRS International/Sensational Records, 1976-?) (LP)
A covers band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, doing rock, blues and country oldies with more of a country tilt than anything else -- they cover "Ghost Riders In The Sky" and "Top Of The World" as well as "Johnny B. Goode," You're Sixteen" and "Big Boss Man." There are also a couple of originals, "Truck Stop, USA" and "Again Tonight," which were both cowritten by guitarist Butch Watts and lead singer Mike LaHair and credited to Audio Architects Publishing, with copyright claimed in 1976... The band was still together at least as late as 1978, playing a gig in Palm Beach at a place called the Town Tavern, with the addition of a gal singer named Diane Fowle. Other than that? Total mystery.
Bill Caswell "Oklahoma Backroads" (Flying High Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Slim Richey & Bill Caswell)
A very strong set of understated but finely crafted country ballads -- soulful, contemplative and quietly compelling. Songwriter Bill Caswell hailed (not surprisingly) from Oklahoma, but he cut a fairly wide swath for himself in Nashville, helped in part by his friendship with Rodney Crowell... He wrote several songs covered by major artists such as "Kentucky Homemade Christmas," which Kenny Rogers included on one of his holiday albums. The songs on this album are sturdy, finely-crafted bones of potential hits -- you can easily imagine Randy Travis or Merle Haggard digging into these rough-hewn gems, and Caswell himself accepts his own limitations. He's not a great singer, but he is a true craftsman, and he keeps things simple throughout, with modest though rich acoustic backing. Caswell also had deep folk and bluegrass bona fides, with liner notes by fiddler Byron Berline, who recalls playing in a band with Caswell back in his college years. His song, "Sweet Allis-Chalmers" -- a love song to a tractor -- has been adopted as a bluegrass standard, notably by Country Gazette, in their fine 1982 version -- the band recorded several more of his songs on their early '80s albums, though Caswell's own versions are quite rewarding. Recommended!
Bill Caswell "Love Lost And Found" (Flying High Records, 1980)
Cat Mother & The All-Night Newsboys "The Street Giveth... And The Street Taketh Away" (Polydor, 1969)
The Cat Mother band originated in New York but eventually gravitated to the San Francisco/Northern California hippie-rock scene... An eclectic band with a healthy dose of folk-country roots, they have enduring fame due in part to having Jimi Hendrix as a co-producer of their first album, but also because of their distinctive sound, which they continued to experiment with over the course of several albums...
Cat Mother & The All-Night Newsboys "Albion Doo-Wah" (Polydor, 1970)
(Produced by Cat Mother)
Although still very much an acid rock album, there is a strong sense of twang as well, particularly with the inclusion of old-timey musician Jay Ungar, who plays fiddle and mandolin, and contributes a couple of songs as well, including the wistful "Last Go Round," an album highlight. The more acoustic-based, country-sounding songs have a distinctly Grateful Dead-ish feel, which is understandable given the place and times... But this album has an even more dropped-out feel to it: while the Dead were gigging and touring and sometimes retreating up to Marin Country, the Cat Mother band had full-on retreated to the forests of Mendocino, and this record has a very relaxed, insular feel... Comfy, too. About half of the songs were written by pianist Bob Smith, with other contributions by Ungar and bassist Ray Michaels, and a couple of jam tracks credited to the band. A fine hippie rock album, with a curious, distinctive style. And for all you stoners out there, the song "Strike A Match And Light Another" is certainly a pothead country classic!
Cat Mother "Cat Mother" (Polydor, 1972) (LP)
Cat Mother "Last Chance Dance" (Polydor, 1973) (LP)
Catoctin Mountain Boys "Rock The Mountain" (Stonehouse, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Hannon)
Steve Cauthen "...And Steve Cauthen Sings Too!" (Bareback Records, 1977-?) (LP)
An odd celebrity album recorded by teenage jockey Steve Cauthen, a kid from Kentucky who was at the height of his fame as a rider, having dominated American horce racing in 1977, and winning the Triple Crown in 1978 on the champion colt named Affirmed. Musically, this isn't really any great shakes -- it's basically tinny, treble-heavy country-meets-bubblegum tunes, with nonedscript pop arrangements framing Cauthen's light, fairly inexpressive vocals. He sounds young, but not very expressive. This has kind of a Partridge Family/Osmonds feel to it, though there is a persistent country undercurrent, with bluegrass banjo on the opening track and some pretty sweet pedal steel througout the album. (Anyone know who was the steel player on this album, or any of the other musicians?) Anyway, fans of 'Seventies pop-rock kitsch might dig this, though country fans won't have much to sink their teeth into... Cauthen was a wildly successful rider, though he moved into European competition starting in 1979, riding in the UK and on the Continent up into the early 1990s.
Cayenne "Cayenne" (Bucksnort, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Stanley)
This San Francisco-based foursome had some interesting post-psychedelia going on in the guitars, but they were also definitely a twangy band, making harmony-laced country-rock, with more Southern-rock and boogie-rock influences than the stuff that slicker bands with major label connections were coming up with in Southern California at the time. This is a very interesting record, and definitely a candidate for reissue. Some of the songs are kind of amorphous, but the mellow, melodic vibe is nice throughout, and there's a sincere, real-people charm as well, with nods towards folks like Norton Buffalo and maybe even Dan Hicks. There are some real gems, too, like drummer Ajay Avery's kooky novelty number "Reject The Record," as well as the outright hippie-dippy fuzziheadedness of "Things Get Better"; on the uptempo "The Long-Awaited Escape Of Crazy Houston," they evoke the sound of (early) Eagles albums... and I mean that in a good way. A very charming, and very pleasant record... definitely worth tracking down!
C Company Featuring Terry Nelson "Wake Up America!" (Plantation Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Shelby Singleton, Clark Bentley & James M. Smith)
Nashville wedged itself into the controversies over the Vietnam War on a number of occasions, perhaps most notably with this patriotic/militaristic album which lauds American soldiers and memorializes our many wars. The album's genesis comes from a very striking novelty song (and unexpected Top 40 hit) called "The Battle Of Lt. Calley," which comes to the defense of Army Lieutenant William Calley, who was courtmartialed and found guilty of murder in the infamous My Lai Massacre of 1968. Terry Nelson was a country deejay from Alabama who voiced the song's recitation, spoken over the melody of the "Battle Hymn Of The Republic." Originally released as a single on a private label, the song became a regional hit and was optioned by producer Shelby Singleton, who re-recorded the track and built this album around it, adding several other songs that delve into America's military psychology. The album came out immediately after Calley's conviction and life sentence, capitalizing on the highly-charged debate over his actions and the atrocities of the My Lai slaughter. Also included are tracks such as "War Baby," "When The Great Men Sign Their Names," "Buffalo Soldiers" and "Til We Bring Our Johnnies Home Again."
Bob Cecil "The Original Bob Cecil Album" (Derrick Recording Studios, 1972) (LP)
This guy sure got around... He grew up in Santa Cruz, California but was living in Sapulpa, Oklahoma when he cut this album, which includes covers of "Country Roads," "You've Got A Friend," "Never Ending Love For You" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," as well as several of his own original songs. Several were co-written with a guy named Jim Carey, including "Blue Friday," "The Gypsy Told Me," "That's How Lonesome Feels" as well as the patriotically themed "Good Ole U.S.A.," which he dedicated to the troops in Vietnam. Cecil was backed by the Arkansas Smokehouse Band, which included John Johnson, Harold Britton and Art Matthews -- a nice all-locals set with decidedly stripped-down arrangements and a very folkie, coffeehouse feel -- lots of acoustic guitar strumming with modest backing on banjo and bass. Not earthshaking, but nice, and awfully sincere.
Cedar Creek "After Tonight" (Acclaim Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Andy DiMartino)
Looks like this was a mainstream Canadian country band, although the studio crew was packed with Nashville heavies such as Charlie McCoy, Russ Hicks and Ray Edenton, although there are also a bunch of unfamiliar names, presumably some of them were actual bandmembers or Canadian sidemen. One song, Rory Bourke's "Took It Like A Man, Cried Like A Baby," had been a hit for Vern Gosdin and was also released as a single by Cedar Creek. Dunno much more about these guys, though.
Cedar Creek Society "Cedar Creek Society" (Dessa Disc, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Sutton & Jim Lockert)
Hank Cee "When Love Comes To An End" (BeVal Records) (LP)
(Produced by D. Trineer)
A set of almost all-original material by singer Hank Cee, who was a radio deejay on Waterbury, Connecticut's country station, W-104, and worked frequently with country star Dick Curless, who contributes to the liner notes.
Larry Cee "Ceeing The Country" (Gilbert Productions) (LP)
(Produced by D. Trineer)
Larry Cee was affiliated with the Illinois Country Opry, one of the many faux-"opry" regional variety shows spread throughout the the country in the 1970s... The show was founded in Petersberg, IL, back in 1968 by Gilbert Perkins, though Larry Cee doesn't seem to have been part of the show's early lineup... I'd guess that this LP came out a little bit later, maybe mid-to-late '70s. Regardless, this album is packed with original material, including tunes like "King Of Lumberjacks," "Lonely Helpless Feeling," and "She Know How A Honky Tonk Sounds ," including several that are credited to Larry Cee (without his full name given...) A nice slice of independently-produced Midwestern twang.
Central Park Sheiks "Honeysuckle Rose" (Flying Fish, 1976)
Everett Cessna & The Country Rebels "This Is Rebel Country" (Ulrich Productions) (LP)
A rust-belt rebel from Indiana, Cessna led his band through the late '60s and early '70s, cutting a 1968 single which had some original material, as well as this album, which includes covers of Terry Fell's "Truck Driving Man," Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings," Mel Tillis's "I Ain't Never" and "Remington Ride." I'm not sure exactly when this LP came out, but there were a bunch of a bunch of newspaper notices about shows he played in 1973.
The Challengers "Country" (Owl Records) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Riley)
A mid-1970s country covers band from Columbus, Ohio, not to be confused (methinks) with the California-based surf/frat rock band of the '60s... This record appears to have been issued at least twice, once with full album art, and once with a plain white cover... And it seems to be relatively common, popping up fairly frequently, so I guess these guys were pretty active and successful on a regional level.
Bud Chambers "Poor Rich Man: Fifteen Gospel Hits" (Sunshine Records, 1966-?) (LP)
A prolific recording artists from Oklahoma, gospel singer Arlie "Bud" Chambers (1932-2007) eschewed the plinky-piano sentimentalism of the Southern Gospel style in favor of a wilder, uninhibited pure-hick sound that was a throwback to the manic twang of hillbilly artists such as Hardrock Gunter and Wayne Raney. Chambers frequently traveled to California to record, and this album was made with backing by some pro pickers: Al Perry plays pedal steel, Joe Pope is on piano, and Red Wooten plucks the bass... There may have been other musicians as well, though sadly they are uncredited. At any rate, this is fun stuff, super-twangy, sloppy and wild, with some of the kooky novelty sensibilities of early rockabilly in there as well, especially on songs like "Trip To The Moon," where Jesus acts as his booster rocket... If you're one of those folks who's looking for legitimately twangy country-gospel, give this fella a spin!
George Chambers "...And The Country Gentlemen" (Renner Records, 1969) (LP)
George Chambers & The Country Gentlemen "Feelings" (Renner Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Mike Leming & Doyle Jones)
George Chambers & The Country Gentlemen "Who IS George Chambers?" (Joey Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Joey Lopez, George Chambers & Mike Liming)
George Chambers & The Country Gentlemen "Dance Time In Texas" (AXBAR) (LP)
Chance "In Search" (Paradise Of Bachelors, 1981/2013)
Wow - this is totally not what I would have expected from a private pressing album by a guy who was part of the 1970's Johnny Cash entourage. Chance Martin was "in" with the outlaw country elite, a roadie and drinking buddy who recorded his own music over a period of several years and cobbled together this bleak, dense, bizarre, rock-oriented album, which was originally released in a run of about 200 copies. This is a really weird record, kind of like Waylon Jennings-meets-Captain Beefheart hippie-rock album, with the avant-rock, sub-prog side of the equation clearly winning out. The guitars are jagged and wild -- plenty of egregious treble and fuzz; the same is true of the keyboards, which are equally crushing and blunt -- this ain't no Yes album, that's for sure, more like the country Fugs, a super-stoned good old boy pounding out psychedelic rock modeled after those old Iron Butterfly albums. One of the most interesting aspects is Chance's sludgy, outsider-art vocal style, a tonally flat baritone growl that is oddly reminiscent (or anticipatory) of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, which forms a curious bond with the sledgehammer psychedelia of the band. How high were these guys? And on what??
Bob Chance "Rock Country!" (Morrhythm Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Robert Wahlsteen & Mike Dorough)
A childhood star on the East Coast, Bob Chance recorded pop/rock singles for Atlantic and Decca while still in his teens. After a Vietnam War-era hitch with the Marines, he moved out West to Los Angeles and produced several records on his own label, Morrhythm Records. On this one, Chance "went country," though still kinda rock. Some of the more promising song titles include "Mr. Doormat," "Another Twentieth Century Fox" and "My Heart Has Been Sentenced To Jail."
The Chance Brothers "Don't It Feel Good?" (King-Tenn Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Haynes & Norbert Stovall)
As it turns out, none of the three guys officially in the Chance Brothers are last-named "Chance," nor were any of the guys in the Last Chance Band who back them. Go figure. Still, I think I get where the name comes from: vocal trio of Ron Allgood, Ron Ferrell and Ron Garner... all have the same FIRST name, so hah-hah, it's almost like they were brothers or something... These guys were looking for a hit in the tinkly-piano era of early-'80s Nashville, and though this album has the look of a songwriter's demo set, the band did tour in '83 and made several TV appearances as well. There's a wealth of original material on this disc, with several tracks credited to "K. Robbins," including one co-written with "G. Harrison" (though I doubt it George...) as well as one by Vince Gill. One one song was credited to the Chance trio, the album's lead track, "Lord It's Killing Me." Top Forty back-bencher Ronnie McDowell adds liner notes, so perhaps they were in his orbit somehow?
Ray Chaney "I've Already Been Here Too Long" (Eagle Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Durwood Haddock)
An excellent album by a hardcore Texas honkytonker. Ray Chaney (1928-1972) had been playing in hard country bands since the 1940s, playing with guys like Jerry Jericho before trying to make it as a solo artist. He kicked around for over a decade, rustling up club dates and recording a few singles before going into business as a nightclub owner: Chaney opened a joint called the Stagecoach Inn in 1961, and established the venue as a prime spot for Texas honkytonkers to get their groove on... Apparently he passed away in 1972, so this record may have been released posthumously. It's a shame, 'cause the disc is a doozy. The album was produced by his pal, Durwood Haddock, who also wrote most of the songs (with Chaney adding a few of his own...) It's pure, boozy honky tonk music, with songs about sad sacks, party animals and barflies -- basically, one would assume, the hard-drinking clientele of the various bars that Chaney worked at over the years. The backing band is pretty strong -- no-nonsense, straight-up hard-country with chunky electric guitar, solid rhythm and not-too-flashy pedal steel -- while his vocals are also pretty plainspoken. Though admittedly a bit limited as a vocalist, he sounds confident and relaxed, with sort of Dave Dudley-esque low growl sliding sideways into sly, drunken, bluesy curl, ala Mickey Gilley. If you're looking for the real deal, Ray Chaney had it. (Thanks to hillbilly-music.com for their info about this artist!)
The Changing Times Band "Almost Alive" (Prestige Productions, 1980-?) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Hill)
An acousticky band from Birmingham, Alabama doing country, bluegrass and rock oldies covers...
The Chaparral Show Band "The Chaparral Show Band" (LP)
(Produced by Clyde Orten)
The very epitome of a country bar band, these guys actually took their name from the bar they played at, a local bar in Caruthersville, Missouri called the Chaparral. The bar apparently sponsored this record, and naturally there are lots of pictures of the bar -- which looked pretty dismal -- as well as the band. Gal bandmember Linda Countess sings "I'm Not Lisa," among an mostly-covers set that included a couple of relatively obscure songs, such as "Has A Cat Got A Tail" (a Tanya Tucker song recorded by Billy Crash Craddock) and Johnny Burnette's "Big, Big World." The album kicks off with one original tune, "I Ain't In A Long, Long Time," written by the band's saxophonist, Jerry Tuttle.
Marshall Chapman - see artist discography
Bobby Charles "Bobby Charles" (Bearsville, 1972)
The Charles Brothers "The Charles Brothers" (Lemco Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Lou Zechella & Cecil Jones)
These three Ohio siblings -- Billy, Dallas and Phillip Charles -- were a rock-solid bluegrass combo holding down a gig with the Continental Inns hotel chain in Lexington, Kentucky at the time this album was recorded. The hotel's manager, Lou Zechella, produced the album and contributed liner notes as well. The repertoire is all cover songs, with a few country tunes in the mix, including Merle Haggard's "Daddy Frank" and "Roll On Buddy" from the Wilburn Brothers, as well as a nice version of Tony Hazzard's "Fox On The Run," which was part of the progressive bluegrass canon at the time. This is more straight-up bluegrass than most of my locals-only listings, but I can't resist: I'm a sucker for a lounge-music twang LP. Not sure what happened with his brothers, but Billy Charles kept plunking the banjo, with various gigs over the years, most recently playing in a bluegrass gospel group called Three Rivers, with singer Brien Charles.
Pete Charles "Rockin' The Country" (Ridin' High Records, 1985)
(Produced by Pete Charles)
SF Bay Area guitar picker/multi-instrumentalist Pete Charles, who did a lot of local session work in the early '80s, prided himself on his mastery of a variety of styles, and dips into rock, country and cajun on this self-produced album... Sounds good on paper, but unfortunately this album was a bit of a dud. A lot of it has to do with the bland '80s production -- flat, mechanical, compressed to an artificial-sounding fare-thee-well, with an MTV-ish soullessness heard particularly in the drums. Also, I'm not a fan of bar-band R&B that gets all filtered, processed and slicked-up, as heard on about half the songs here. Still, there are a couple of nice country tunes and some sweet steel playing courtesy of Dan Tyack, with Charles adding some nice fiddle licks on the cajun-flavored tunes. Nothing on here really wowed me, but I think this disc includes a few good songs buried in unexciting production -- I know this was re-released on CD a few years ago, and possibly the remastered mix is better. Anyone know for sure?
Billy Charne "Billy Charne" (Sussex Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Sam Goldstein & Carl Walden)
An early album by Billy W. Chernoff, aka Billy Charne, a Canadian country singer and former rodeo clown who later became a Christian music artist. Under the patronage of Gary Buck and producer Ronnie Light, Chernoff recorded a string of singles in Canada and Nashville during the late 1960s and early 'Seventies, including "To Ma Ray, Tom O Ray," which topped the Canadian charts, and "Fresno Rodeo," which became one of his best-known tunes. Versions of both songs are on this album, which I believe was his only major-label release. It's a pretty groovy, rootsy record, dancing on the edges of the rock scene, but with a solid country core. Recorded with LA session player Jerry Cole on guitar, this is an underrated hippie-era gem, similar to Bobby Charles's album of the same era. Chernoff worked steadily through the '80s and '90s in a series of partnerships and bands, though in 1998 he switched his focus towards religious songwriting (though still with a country feel) and has self-released numerous albums over the years.
J. R. Chatwell "Jammin' With J. R. And Friends" (Edsel/Sundown, 1982/1985)
(Produced by Doug Sahm)
A fabled Texas fiddler whose career began at the dawn of western swing, in the 1930s and '40s J. R. Chatwell recorded with legendary artists such as Bill Boyd, Cliff Bruner, Adolph Hofner and the Light Crust Doughboys. Chatwell's dynamic, inventive fiddling helped set the standards for an oncoming wave of young Texas fiddlers, notably influencing Johnny Gimble, who went on to become one of the preeminent fiddlers of his generation. In the 1960s, Chatwell was hit by a stroke which impaired his ability to fiddle, but when this album was cut, over a decade later, he was still able to sing and play piano. Joining him are outlaw luminaries such as Doug Sahm, Johnny Gimble, Augie Meyers and Willie Nelson, getting into some groovy, bluesy jams...
Chinga Chavin "Country Porn" (1976)
Crude sexual comedy and an even cruder parody of country music, with songs such as "A**hole From El Paso," "Dry Humping In The Back Of A Fifty-Five Ford" and "Sit, Sit, Sit (Sit On My Face)" -- and those are the polite ones. These smutty, silly songs might appeal to a few juvenile-minded listeners, but the music isn't that compelling and the joke grows old, quick, like old Don Bowman albums; might also appeal to fans of Kinky Friedman's work. Apparently this album was distributed by Penthouse magazine... anyone out there know much else about Nick Chavin, like for instance if he as a real person, or just a made-up persona? The vocals remind me of Chuck Wagon & The Wheels, but I doubt there was a connection other than maybe a shared regional accent?
Cheapshot "Biggestits" (Biggestits Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Chris Darrow)
This loose-knit California band played mostly frat rock cover tunes ("Wooly Bully," "I Got You/I Feel Good," "Who Do You Love") done country boogie style, with plenty of pedal steel and drunken twang... This LA-area band seems to have been an outlet for multi-instrumentalist/session player Chris Darrow and his pickin' pal Max Buda to get a little dumb and have some fun. The liner notes include extensive thanks/no thanks shout-outs, with the band calling out various clubs that wouldn't book them and other folks what done them wrong. Among all the R&B oldies are a few newer or original tunes, notably Darrow's own "Time Will Tell" and a version of Tom Waits' "Heart Of Saturday Night."
The Cheap Suit Serenaders "R. Crumb And His Cheap Suit Serenaders" (Blue Goose, 1974)
One of the all-time great retro-revival bands, The Cheap Suit Serenaders was a hippie-era stringband formed by several avid collectors of obscure old 78s -- gatherers of arcane old blues, jazz and novelty records from the pre-WWII decades. Because underground cartoonist Robert Crumb was one of the original members , the Serenaders enjoyed instant cult-favorite status that brought this delightful music to a wider audience than might otherwise have been the case... At a time when acoustic blues revivalists such as Norman Blake and Bob Brozman were delving into similar material, the Serenaders brought a more playful, anarchic sensibility to their nostalgic noodlings -- like David Bromberg, they indulged a love of novelty songs and comedy, and also explored a wider range of genres, including what were once called "ethnic" styles, such as Hawaiian and klezmer music. Most importantly, they were fun. That's particularly true on this zippy debut album, where the founding trio of Robert Crumb, Allan Dodge and Robert Armstrong were joined by Richard Oxtot, a San Francisco Bay Area trad-jazz bandleader who lends a little extra punch on some songs. This is a true classic, and a landmark album for this kind of revivalism... Tons of great music here, notably novelty numbers such as "I Had But Fifty Cents," "Laughing Rag," "I'm Gonna Get It" and even the sentimental "I See You In My Dreams." If you're looking for a record that will put a smile on your face every time you drop the needle down, then this one's for you.
The Cheap Suit Serenaders "R. Crumb And His Cheap Suit Serenaders, #2: Chasin' Rainbows" (Blue Goose, 1976)
Another fine set of kooky stringband revivalism, with retro gems from a variety of styles -- some early mountain music, jug band blues, a few Hawaiian tunes and some faux-foreign exotica, such as the oriental-themed "Persian Rug." To be honest, this is the least memorable of the three Cheap Suit albums, but they set the bar pretty high, so it's still a pretty great record. More must-have jugband/string-swing mayhem from the masters.
The Cheap Suit Serenaders "R. Crumb And The Cheap Suit Serenaders, #3: Singing In The Bathtub" (Blue Goose, 1978)
I love, love and have always loved the title track on this album, as fine a bit of goofy retrodelic musicmaking as you'll ever hear... The rest of the record lives up to that song's promise, mixing smart-alecky vocals with zingy mandolin, hot Hawaiian steel guitar, squeaky accordion and an irresistible, tootling tuba. The blend of sincerely sentimental nostalgia and a giddy embrace of pure retro corn s a winning formula... Other tracks that were often played back in the days of "free form" radio include "Pedal Your Blues Away," "Shopping Mall" and a sizzling, slam-bang cover of Sol Hoopii's hapa haole classic, "Hula Girl." Great stuff... the Serenaders at their finest! (By the way, you might also take note of the change from "his" to "the" in the band's name; Crumb mostly quit the band after this, though they continued playing off and on over the decades. And, I might add, continued collecting old 78s...)
Gay & Lois Cheatham "The Workers Of The Vineyard" (Jalyn Records) (LP)
(Produced by Phil Mehaffey & Tim Norris)
Homegrown hillbilly gospel from Lodi, Ohio, with songs written by Gay Cheatham, and Elmer Huff on steel guitar...
Harold Cheek "I Gotta Sing My Song" (Tom Tom Records)
(Produced by Harold Cheek & Chuck Thompson)
There's no real info included on the album art, but I believe this singer was Harold Dean Cheek (1937-2015) of Middlesboro, Kentucky -- he also released a single on the Tom Tom label, billing himself as "the Singing Kentuckian." That single included two original songs, "Big Brite Moon" and "Love I Can't Forget," though sadly neither are included here. Mostly this is a set of covers, although there are a couple more Cheek tunes, "Heaven Came Back To Me" and "If Time Can Heal Pain," along with covers of country standards such as "Big Iron," "Green Green Grass Of Home," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Die" and the classic saucy cheatin' song, "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers." No musician credits, either, but Cheek is pictured on the front and back with a gal identified as Jackie Cheek, and he's also seen feeding a couple of cows, so he may have had a ranch or kept a few animals. Other than that, a complete mystery.
Eva Lena Chenault "Country Love" (Mount Vernon Music, 1963-?) (LP)
A charming album by a hillbilly second-stringer... Born in 1938, "Sweet" Eva Lena Chenault came from Memphis, Tennessee and played in various country shows, including with stars such as Texas Ruby & Curly Fox, as well as a regular gig with the Jimmy Dean Show, in Washington DC's fabled Turner's Arena. I think this was her only album, although she later recorded a handful of singles for Starday and a couple of smaller indies, then apparently she retired in the late '60s. This is a nice record with pleasant though minimal backing from an anonymous band built around some sweet, old-fashioned steel guitar, very reminiscent of the sentimental style of late '40s heartsongs and early honkytonk. Chenault's vocals are pretty discrete and restrained -- it's hard to tell if she just wasn't that strong a vocalist, or if she wasn't able to gather up much steam with the band. Regardless, it's nice music -- slightly lackluster performances, perhaps, but classic sentimental twang. Definitely worth checking out, particularly if you're a devotee of "hillbilly filly" country gals.
Teenie Chenault "...And The Country Rockers" (Alear Records, 1970-?) (LP)
Singer John "Teenie" Chenault was one of the younger-generation members of the WVVA Jamboree USA stage show... A Virginia native, Chenault started his musical career in 1964 by winning a local talent show, and worked his way up to a regular spot on the WVVA program. In 1969, just before this album was released, he went on a four-month USO tour of Vietnam, where the Country Rockers played over a 150 shows, and in later years Chenault kept doing armed forces gigs, playing military bases, along with local clubs and other venues around Richmond, VA, before he finally retired and moved to Florida in 2009. Back when this record came out, he was leading a slightly-longhaired band that included bassist Cliff Ashburn, lead guitarist Chuck Parsons, steel player Tommy Cass and drummer Bubba Underwood, many of whom previously played in rock bands. The repertoire included a lot of original material, including five songs written by Jean Alford, and a couple others credited to "Reynolds," although I couldn't determine who that writer was. It's fun stuff: Chenault had a bouncy, twangy sound inspired by Buck Owens, and a voice that was a bit like the young George Jones. This LP may have been a collection of earlier singles, though I don't know for sure.
Cherokee "Cherokee" (ABC, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Barri)
A rootsy rock album by a band from Wisconsin, orignally known as the Robbs, who are perhaps best known as being the "house band" for Dick Clark's teen beat TV show in the late 1960s. They cut one album and a bunch of singles as the Robbs, but "went country" and changed their name in '71, cutting this abum with some in-studio help from some of LA's country rock elite, folks such as Chris Hillman and Sneaky Pete Kleinow. Despite all their showbiz connections, they never quite clicked on the charts, and wound up having better success opening a recording studio which had a booming clientele in the 1980s and '90s.
Cheyenne "The Balladeer" (Crystal Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Lashley, Johnny Henderson & Eric King)
A very nice, independently produced set of '70s soft-pop/country rock, roughly in the range of John Denver-meets-Poco, by a confident, relaxed band from Edmond, Oklahoma. This is mostly a set of original material written by written by singer Bob Lashley and bassist Johnny Henderson, with just three cover tunes in the mix, a Dan Seals song ("Dust On My Saddle"), John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" and the comedic chestnut, "The Preacher And The Bear." Their own songs are pretty solid -- a few are slightly gooey, but not overly so, and for the most part this is good, solid 'Seventies country-rock, more strummy guitars and sweet harmonies, and not much in the way of big power chords or rock-god posturing. Definitely worth a spin!
Cheyenne "Cincinnati On My Mind" (Fraternity) (LP)
No solid info on these folks yet, but I'm pretty sure they were a different band than the Oklahoma crew listed above...
Chicken Clark's Road Apple Rodeo "Chicken Clark's Road Apple Rodeo" (Baldwin Sound Productions, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Kent Baldwin)
Lyn Childress "A Different Shade Of Country" (Step One Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Pennington)
This was Top 40-oriented stuff, though ultimatley Lubbock, Texas's Lyn Childress didn't make any dents in the charts... It's an odd assortment of songs, though it includes three written by Childress: "Dallas To Odessa," "Honey You" and "I've Done All I Can." There's a later release from 2011, when Childress was having some health problems, which has a lot of the same material -- not sure if it's a reissue, or re-recorded versions of her old songs.
Chisolm "Chisolm" (Chisolm Productions, 1985)
(Produced by Elroy Kanahek)
An independently-produced, would-be Top 40 band from Plano, Texas, Chisolm featured a quartet of young pretty-boy frontmen, singing a bunch of original material, with most of the songs written by the duo of Warren Robb and Dave Kirby. Kirby also plays guitar on the sessions, but isn't an official member of the band; also in the studio is Terry McMillan on harmonica. This seems to have been a project of producer Elroy Kanahek's publishing company, Joyna Music -- Kirby's songs are all credited to that house, as is one contributed by Kanahek. They seem to have been shooting for a Restless Heart/Lonestar '80s pop vibe, though I dunno if any of this went anywhere in the end.
The Chisholm Brothers & The Country Squires "Country Music Our Style" (Banff Records, 1965) (LP)
An awesome early '60s hard-country set from brothers Charles and John Chisholm, a duo from New England who really kept it real as far as old-school country twang went. Beautifully backed by steel guitarist Ed Cunningham and bassist Charles Hodgdon, they pay allegiance to Hank Williams, Tex Owens and Elvis Presley, adding several songs of their own to the country canon, including originals such as "Blue Side Of My Heart," "Blues Coming In" and "I Walk Around," all fine examples of pure, old-school honky-tonk. Around the time they cut this album, the Chisholms were playing steady gigs at places like the Domino Club in Dedham, Massachusetts and a bar called Maxine's, in their hometown of Brockton, MA. This album strongly harkens back to the hillbilly bop/rockabilly era of the 'Fifties -- their later recordings had a more modern early '60s sound.
The Chisholm Brothers "The Country Sound Of America In Concert" (Rustic Records) (LP)
Nice! Here, in the late 'Sixties, the Chisholms channel Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and the twangier end of country, a region where rockabilly riffs still echoed in defiance of the poppier trends down Nashville way. This is a nice little record with a pleasantly rugged feel -- if these guys had been around for the 1990s Americana boom, they'd have the same kind of fans that were drawn to folks like Dale Watson or the Derailers. Equally at ease on uptempo tunes as on sentimental songs such as "Green Green Grass Of Home," "House Of Gold" and "Today I Started Loving You Again." Some nice, twangy guitar and plainspoken vocals -- Johnny Chisholm had the deeper, more Cash-like voice, though they both excelled at bringing lyrics to life. Nice stuff! By the way, old-timer Elton Britt describes them in his lofty liner notes as "two vocal magicians as master projectionist of the new Country spirit" -- whatever that means! -- but his flowery praise makes it sound like they were fancy-pants Nashville Sound-ers, though nothing could be further from the truth. This album also was apparently also released under the title "Both Sides Of The Chisholm Brothers," with a nice photo of the guys in matching blue suits. (By the way, Charlie Chisholm's daughter, Melodye Buskin, was a musician as well, playing drums for Lou Miami's late-'70s punk band Kozmetix, and was interviewed in a 2015 documentary film called "Women Who Rocked Boston." One would hope her dad was proud!)
Roy Chounard And His County Pride "Country Western And Old Time Favorites" (Chmielewki Records) (LP)
Roy Z. Chounard and his wife Beverly were from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and formed the Country Pride band in the 1970s, playing locals shows for over two decades and later in life they ran several small convenience stores in the area. I think this was their only album, released some time in the 'Seventies.
Carole Christensen "God Made A Country Girl" (Luv Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Simpson)
A housewife from Taylorsville, Utah, Carole Christensen self-released this album, which like many vanity albums had a pretty small run, somewhere in the hundreds of copies...
Charkie Christian "Run For The Border" (Smiling Dog Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Charkie Christian, Michael Brewer & Peter Nichols)
The Christian Troubadours "Time For Prayer" (Vision Recording Company, 1963-?) (LP)
Although this long-lived Christian quartet became known as a Southern Gospel group, they had deep, deep country roots, as heard on this excellent early album, which is drenched in honkytonk twang, with plenty of steel guitar, mandolin and electric-acoustic twang. Founded by Arkansas expat Wayne Walters, the Troubadours formed in Lakewood, California (near Long Beach) in the mid-1950s and stayed together through the '70s. This edition of the band included Bill Carter on bass, Phil Price on lead guitar, Wayne Walters playing rhythm guitar and singing lead, and Harvey Yeoman on mandolin, with somebody (sadly unidentified) adding some rock-solid steel guitar. If you enjoy Hank Williams' classic gospel recordings, you're gonna like this too -- they were certainly cut from the same cloth, playing heartfelt spiritual music with a rollicking, resonant twang. The band recorded about a dozen album and was later led by preacher Leroy Blankenship, moving to Nashville in its later incarnation. Me? I'm looking for more of their early stuff!
Chris Christy "The Country Style Of Chris Christy" (Luv'ae Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by John Dobies & W. Nelson)
Mr. Christy was apparently a former bandmember of country star Hawkshaw Hawkins, who died in 1963... So he'd been around for a while before recording this late-'70s solo set, which was recorded in Glendale, California. Backing him is a longhaired trio of younger pickers -- John Dobies, Ben Main and Don Regis -- going by the name of the Country Road Band. I'm not sure, but I think the songs are originals...
Chuck Wagon & The Wheels - see artist discography
Circle B Chuckwagon Suppers And Western Show "South Dakota" (Circle B Records) (LP)
A western (cowboy) themed band from a dude ranch near Rapid City, South Dakota... The group included Jay Baldwin (lead vocals), Jim Lovell (baritone), John Raderschoot (bass) and Ken Wilcox (bass)
Darrell Clanton "Alive" (Audiograph, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Demmans)
For a few brief years, the Audiograph label served as both a haven for faded Nashville stars as well as hopeful unknowns such as Mr. Clanton. Born Darrell Puckett, the Florida singer made his way to Nashville and had a promising career in the early '80s which was cut short when the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving launched a boycott against one of his songs that they felt made light of alcohol abuse. (How's that story for an idea for a country novelty song...? Oh, the ironies.) Anyway, this album has a bright, almost aggressively commercial production sound, with seven out of the ten songs being Clanton originals. It was one of the cover songs that was his biggest -- and really, only -- hit, an understated, straightforward rendition of Justin Tubb's "Lonesome 7-7203" that made it into the Top 30, though his later efforts on Warner Brothers pretty much tanked. There's some applause mixed in on a few tracks, but I'm pretty sure this was a studio-produced album.
Eric Clapton "Eric Clapton" (Polydor, 1970)
(Produced by Delaney Bramlett)
Although he's a founding member of the Dino-Rock Legion, guitar god Eric Clapton deserves an honorable mention when looking at the roots-twang scene of the 1970s. After extricating himself from the hyperbolic acid rock of his band, Cream, Clapton drifted a bit, going hippie-zonko-psychedelic with Blind Faith and hanging out with the Beatles. On his first proper solo album, he dipped back into the blues, with a dollop of then-cool boogie-rock and a few spacy, Big Star-ish, George Harrison-esque psych-folk outings. This also includes a coked-up version of "After Midnight," recorded along with Delaney & Bonnie, a rootsy duo who figured prominently in most of Clapton's subsequent albums. The twang comes in later, but Clapton does show how diverse and old-school he could be, even after all those years plugged in and playing loud.
Eric Clapton "461 Ocean Boulevard" (RSO, 1974)
(Produced by Tom Dowd)
Again, still mostly a rock/blues record, but with a few Americana-ish hints of things to come, notably a washed-out but still acoustic cover of "Please Be With Me" and his hit version of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff," a track that helped bring reggae into the American pop mainstream. Mostly too "dino rock" for me, but it's still worth a spin. A big hit, back in the day.
Eric Clapton "There's One In Every Crowd" (Polydor, 1975)
Clapton went to Jamaica to get stoned and record this laid-back album... Includes several reggae-flavored tracks, balanced by sedate, sleek blues-pop... Not much countrywise on here, other than "Pretty Blues Eyes," and also no real hits. It's mellow, but forgettable.
Eric Clapton "No Reason To Cry" (Polydor, 1976)
(Produced by Rob Fraboni)
Another negligible album, especially from an alt-country perspective. The production is a little edgier and more shrill -- more coke-influenced, one would assume. Anyway, there's hardly any twang on this album, even with all the guys from The Band jamming with him... So for our purposes here, this is pretty skippable.
Eric Clapton "Slowhand" (RSO, 1977)
(Produced by Glyn Johns)
As far as hippiebilly and Americana go, this is probably Clapton's most relevant record. It's packed with roots-music goodies, notably "Next Time You See Her," "Lay Down Sally" (which hit #3 on the charts), the languid, romantic "Wonderful Tonight," and Clapton's fine rendition of John Martyn's "May You Never." Oh, yeah, there's also his version of JJ Cale's "Cocaine" which, although I really never need to hear it again, was deservedly a monster hit, an arresting rock anthem with a huge rhythmic hook and an unfortunate relevance to the drugged-out era it came out in. This was one of Clapton's best and most popular records, and made him a permanent fixture of disco-era pop culture. Recommended, particularly for the twangy stuff.
Eric Clapton "Backless" (Polydor, 1978)
(Produced by Glyn Johns)
Flowery, formulaic and somewhat lethargic, this echoes the musical themes of Slowhand, but not the album's vigor. I'm sure many Clapton fans will disagree. I do like "Promises" and "Tulsa Time," though!
Clark & Andy & X-Rated "Throwin' A Party" (Ancor Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Andy Rucker & Paul Osborne)
A comedic "party" album recorded live at an informal session in Winchester, Kentucky by the duo of Andy Rucker and Clark Whitt. They cover a lot of fun stuff -- three Shel Silverstein songs, a version of John Prine's "Please Don't Bury Me" and yet another rendition of Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Redneck Mother." There's also stuff by Red Lane and Jim Stafford, and one original song written by Clark Whitt, "Irma Jean." Not sure exactly when this was recorded, but late '70s/early '80s seems like a good bet. Andy Rucker also released at least one album under his own name...
Connie Clark "Connie Sings Country" (Clark Records, 1980) (LP)
A housewife from Madison, California (a microscopic village just northeast of Sacramento) Connie Clark explains in her all-too-revealing liner notes that she decided to make a country music record in 1977, after seeing Leroy Van Dyke play a cabaret show at a Reno, Nevada casino. She and her husband had gone to Reno to patch up their marriage (hmmm...) and she was so impressed by Van Dyke's music, it became her big ah-ha! moment. This is admittedly a super-amateurish album, poorly recorded with an unidentified local band, possibly including Jerry McClendon (who she thanks) as well as Joe Hobson, who wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on this album, including several written with Dewey Boyd, a local musician who had himself recorded a few singles in the early '60s. (Clark also says that Sacramento country deejay Paul Westmoreland helped write some of the songs, though the credits inside don't mention him on any of the songs...) Clark's voice can charitably be compared to that of Skeeter Davis, with kind of a keening, flat, girl-groupish flair... She wasn't gonna bust out and pack 'em in at Vegas herself, but if you're into authentic recordings by "real people," this one, with liner notes that spend more time talking about her family life and her three pregnancies, is about as real as it gets.
Gene Clark -- see artist profile
Guy Clark -- see artist profile
Doyle Clark & The Sundowners "Always Country" (IGL, 197-) (LP)
A pop-country covers band from Iowa... Some songs might be originals, though I'm not totally sure about that...
Jo Jo Clark "New Hound In Town" (Allegiance Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Kim Fowley)
The proto-Americana duo of Chris Darrow and Max Buda do a lot of the heavy lifting here, backing Hollywood-based singer Jo Jo Clark on an album that starts out pretty strictly as a thudding, neo-rockabilly set, ala Shakin' Stevens, but eventually drifts into softer, more nuanced territory. Clark proves a better rock singer than country vocalist, so while songs like "Just Stephen Foster" are more thematically interesting than the uptempo tunes, you might be distracted by the performances -- the best track probably being the cajun-flavored "Down Home Days." Darrow co-wrote a couple of tracks -- the country-themed "King Of The Cowboys" and "Goin' Back To Texas" -- while rock'n'roll weirdo Kim Fowley, who is credited as producer, apparently co-wrote the rest along with Clark, and one song is credited to LA-area DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, probably in hopes that he would promote the album. Mostly this album is negligible, though it is an interesting footnote to the pre-Americana days of the early '80s... As far as I know this was Clark's only album.
Johnny Clark "Here's The Key To My Heart" (Ripcord Records) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden & Ray Eldred)
An early offering on the Washington-based Ripcord label... I'm not sure where singer Johnny Clark was from, but it's a fairly safe bet he lived somewhere up in the Pacific Northwest. Clark wrote all but two on the songs on this album, including one co-written with Paula Miller, another Ripcord artist who also penned one of the two holdouts, a cheerful ditty called "The Penitentiary." Clark's songs include the title track, "The Key To My Heart," "Swingin' Ladies," "Bad Luck Town" and "Doctor, Lawyer, Psychiatrist." There are no liner notes about any other musicians involved with this one, but any info is welcome!
Lolly Clark "...And Something Country" (Shelgate Records) (LP)
Born in Hawaii, singer Lolita ("Lolly") Clark grew up listening to country music, though in the late '60s after she moved to the mainland, she became a fan of Joan Baez and the folk revival. Clark taught herself to play guitar and eventually wound up in Cape Cod, where she was living when she cut this disc, her first (and probably only) album. Clark wrote one of the songs on here, "Memphis City Lights," though the other nine tracks were written by a guy from Taunton, Massachusetts named Sheldon "Zeke" Westgate, who apparently recorded some stuff of his own before this venture ("with no great success" as the liner notes glumly admit...) Backing them are various assorted locals, including fiddler George Kay, Tom Hughes on banjo, Dick Covel on pedal steel and Frank Furlan playing electric. Not sure when this album came out, but it looks late-1960s-ish...
Merrill Clark "Hold On And Love Her" (Expand Records, 1975) (LP)
Merrill Clark "I'm An Operating Engineer" (Expand Records, 1976) (LP)
A kooky, outsider-art album from this California country indie... It's a theme record about "operating engineers" -- the folks that drive big construction vehicles like Caterpillar tractors and other heavy equipment -- with a slew of original songs mostly written by Merrill himself, along with a couple of Merle Haggard songs and a union tune by Woody Guthrie. In the liner notes, Merrill says her has "worked alongside these men of the Operating Engineers for many years," so I guess he was a construction worker who self-financed a couple of albums, and maybe came up with the idea of producing this one as a benefit for his union, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IOUE), as a way to subsidize his musical moonlighting(?) But I'm just speculating, really -- anyone know more about this guy? And wouldn't a duo album with him and Buzz Martin, the singing lumberjack, be totally awesome?
Michael Clark "Free As A Breeze" (Capitol Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Jay Senter)
A little bit "iffy" in the 'Seventies country spectrum, but worth a spin if you're into rootsy AOR of the era. I'd place Clark somewhere between Mac Davis and Larry Jon Wilson -- somewhere in that vicinity, though ultimately on the less-cool side of the equation, including a few traces of late-'70s dance music in the mix. Grumbly, manly, Elvis-y vocals wed to fairly indistinct songs, with a production style that teeters between rugged and bland -- a lot of LA pop-scene heavyweights in the studio crew, folks like Lee Ritenour, Steve Luthaker and Lee Sklar, though the names that cought my attention were Greg Liesz on pedal steel and James Burton on electric guitar. I'm not sure what the story was with this guy, though Capitol did give him a fair shot, releasing two albums and a handful of singles during the disco era. Worth checking out if you like bohunk pop ballads, but twangfans shouldn't get their hopes up too high.
Michael Clark "Save The Night" (Capitol Records, 1979) (LP)
Yodeling Slim Clark "Sings And Yodels Favorite Montana Slim (Wilf Carter) Songs Of The Mountains And Plains, Volume One" (Palomino Records, 1966) (LP)
Although he was born in Massachusetts, worked in New England and was living in Fair Lawn, New Jersey when he recorded this album, western singer Slim Clark had the true soul of a Canadian. At least it sounds that way on this excellent album where he covers cowboy classics originally sung by Wilf Carter. This is a great record -- totally stripped-down, humble, no-nonsense renditions of western tunes and sentimental oldies. Clark is paying homage to Carter, but he sounds quite a bit like Nashville legend Hank Snow did, back in his Canadian youth. This is a very rich, rewarding album -- direct and unpretentious, and certainly very authentic, despite its East Coast provenance.
Yodeling Slim Clark "Sings And Yodels Favorite Montana Slim (Wilf Carter) Songs Of The Mountains And Plains, Volume Two" (Palomino Records, 1966) (LP)
More good stuff here, too.
Clay And Sally "United We Stand" (Ragamuffin Records)
A bunch of cover tunes (and possibly some originals?) sung by the husband-wife duo of Clay Hart and Sally Flynn, who were both regulars on The Lawrence Welk Show in the early 1970s. This folk-country album has a curiously low-rent, uber-indie look and sound, and was presumably pressed so they'd have some private merch to sell at their live shows. It features very stripped-down arrangements, often little more than him playing acoustic guitar, and many of the tracks have a sluggish, stilted folk-song feel. Clay Hart seems to have been challenged by uptempo material (as heard on their manic rendition of "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line") although Flynn was pretty nimble and hits a nice, Dolly Parton-esque groove on the perky "Everlovin' Truckin' Man," which appears to have been an original (though sadly uncredited) composition. The album also includes several late-'60s/early-'70s staples such as "Love Of The Common People," "Little Green Apples," and Tony Orlando's "Tie A Yellow Ribbon." For me, what redeems this fairly square album is the amateurish production style and slightly panicky sound in their voices -- even though they were nationally known performers, the Harts still had a small-town feel. Worth a spin, with a couple of fun songs. Anyone know what year this came out?
John Clay & The Lost Austin Band "Drifting Through The Seventies" (Mockingbird, 1973) (LP)
I haven't heard this one, but I'm eager to check it out. John Clay was apparently one of the earliest outsider musicians to move to Austin, back in the early '60s, and he had his share of strong opinions about how the "outlaw" scene grew. Anyone have more info about this guy, or know if he recorded more than these two albums?
John Clay & The Lost Austin Band "Bad Boy Come Home" (Hi-Fi Nance Records, 1983) (LP)
Stewart Clay "Live At The Ice House" (Rutbru Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by John Bruton & Richard Turrill)
A folkie set by a banjoman and guitarist from West Virginia, with a mix of folk-pop (Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain") mountain music ("Cripple Creek"), country covers ("The Auctioneer," "Long Black Veil") along with comedic material such as "If I Could Just Go Back And Know What I Know Now" and "The Ironic," a parody tragedy-ballad about an ironically-named ocean liner meeting with disaster in the "Specific Ocean." Clay started his career back in 1958, playing in the Perkins Family Square Dance Band, and here performs solo at a place called the Icehouse, in Pasadena, California. As far as I know, this was Clay's only album. (Reissued in 2012 on CD as Banjo! Live At The Lighthouse)
Roy Clayborne & The Alamo "First Edition" (LP)
Originally from San Antonio, singer Roy Clayborne was the epitome of an upbeat but struggling third-tier country lounge artist. He worked all over, in Nashville and throughout the Southwest and Midwest, as well as touring Europe a time or two. He led a variety of bands and much of his material was original. The exact details of where and when his records were recorded are a bit hard to track down: as far as I know, this was his first album, although I'm not sure when it came out. Clayborne was working professionally at least since the late 1960s, with professional management as early as 1970, although he didn't have a record deal until later. At any rate, this disc is also notable for being one of the many vanity LPs pressed with the identical beach landscape photo -- they all had different "label" names but obviously came from the same manufacturer... More on this later.
Roy Clayborne & The Alamo "Second Edition" (Alamo Village, 1975) (LP)
This live album is one of Clayborne's strongest releases -- it was recorded at the Sahara Motor Inn, which I believe was located in Tucson, Arizona. As always, Clayborne had one foot here, one foot there -- there are a couple of Arizona pride songs, notably "Son Of Arizona," where he explains that he wasn't born there, but that the state had opened its heart to him, and he now felt like a native son. Still, there's a mailing address on the back of the album for his manager, Happy Shanan, in Brackettville, Texas, so Clayborne seems to have been a pretty nomadic fellow. Oh! And the music? Pretty good, actually. The uptempo country stuff is fun, though balanced by some melodramatic, cornball numbers like the Spanish-flavored "Malagena" and his uber-earnest cover of "Please Come To Boston." There's also a perky live version of "Mary Gets Around," a song that was also released as a single on the Libbi label a couple of years later. Overall, this is a pretty strong effort, and even the flaws are kind of charming. On the track entitled "Medley," Clayborne says he's doing classic country impressions -- of honkytonkers like Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams, etc., although really all the impersonations just sound like Clayborne singing in his usual voice, which is fine, just a little funny that he billed it that way. The only really weak moment comes on the last track, "Wouldn't It Be Something," an inspiration ballad sung by one of the younger members of Clayborn's band (unidentified on the album jacket) which is kind of a terrible song, but also the guy couldn't sing on key. But hey, that's how you know they're real people, right?
Roy Clayborne "Arizona Highways" (Libbi Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Borchers)
Roy Clayborne "Roy Clayborne" (Libbi Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Borchers & Larry Baker)
Clayborne was apparently doing lounge gigs in Nashville around the time this album was recorded... Although it's a studio set, I'm sure it reflects his stage show pretty well: there's some robust country stuff, like his cover of Dallas Frazier's "The Devil Ain't A Lonely Woman's Friend" (an awesome, over-the-top novelty number about an unwed teenage mother who goes to Nashville trying to make it in the music business, and winds up a drug-addicted prostitute who jumps off a bridge at age 43... They don't write 'em like that anymore!) Clayborne also covers a couple of Mickey Newbury songs (as sluggish, Elvis-esque ballads) and two by songwriter Gary Sefton, as well as two Clayborne originals. According to the liner notes, Clayborne was known as a "country western imitator," but other than the vague Elvis-iness on a few tunes, I couldn't really place any distinct likenesses. But there are some okay performances; also of interest is the producer, Bobby Borchers, a distinctive singer who cut a couple of records himself a few years earlier.
Roy Clayborne "Live At The Landmark" (Contempo Records) (LP)
Not sure when this live album came out, although while trying to find out more about Clayborne, I did learn that he died in 1996 while on tour in Europe. Clayborne's most notable contribution to country music is probably his song, "Put Me On A Train Back To Texas," which was covered by Willie Nelson on his 1991 album, Clean Shirt. Other than that, I think he was mostly known regionally, particularly in Arizona, where he wound up hanging his hat.
Billy Joe Clayton & The All-American Band "From All Of Us To All Of You" (197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bennie Kennerson & Billy Joe Clayton)
I'm not 100% sure (yet) but I think this was actually a solo record by Randy Ingrim, the longtime bass player in Merle Haggard's band, The Strangers. This album was a fundraiser for United American Heroes veterans aid group, with a band comprised largely of Vietnam vets, mostly playing standards (lots of songs by Merle Haggard, along with one by Leona Williams, and some from Mel Tillis, Ernest Tubb, etc...) The studio crew included high-powered session players such as Dale Sessions, Doyle Grisham, Doug Jernigan and Leon Rhodes - producer Bennie Kennerson was also the piano player... This also includes one Clayton original, "Dixie," as well as Tom T. Hall's "Mama, Tell 'Em What We're Fighting For." I wasn't able to track down the release date, but I'm guessing mid-to-late '70s -- sounds about right, plus some of the typeface looks suspiciously like that used by MCA Records around that time.
Lee Clayton -- see artist profile
Stew Clayton "The Farmer: Songs Of The Earth" (Sunshine Records) (LP)
A salt-of-the-earth themed album from Canadian country singer Stew Clayton, just one of the many albums he recorded over the years...
Clean Living "Clean Living" (Vanguard, 1972) (LP)
Clean Living "Meadowmuffin" (Vanguard, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Danny Weiss)
Nice record. I'd say these guys just barely missed the boat, as songwriter/songwriter Norman Schell sounds an awful lot like Jonathan Edwards, who'd broken into the Pop Top Forty a couple of years earlier with a musical brew that's a lot like what you hear on this record. They open with a fluid country-rock tune called "Far North Again," which features some sweet guitar work from guest artist Al Anderson, of NRBQ fame. The gentle but earthy cosmic-country vibe is reprised throughout the album, and though there are a couple of way-too-gooey, twee folk numbers, mostly this is quite nice. I'm sure curious to hear their first album now!
Don Cleary "Sings Traditional Cowboy Songs" (Palomino Records, 1966-?) (LP)
Western music old-timer Don Cleary was a singer and entrepreneur from Fair Lawn, New Jersey, although he seems to have moved to Florida sometime in the '70s. Cleary was owner of the Palamino record label, best known for releasing numerous albums by Jersey yodeler Slim Clark. Clark, along with Elton Britt and Jimmy Skinner, was a member of Cleary's short-lived "Palomino Country Western Show," aka the Palomino Country Jamboree, an East Coast country revue which made a go of it in the mid-1960s. As far as I know this was his only LP, although he put out a bunch of albums on Palamino, and contributed to some as a musician. This is all straight-up, old-school western material, songs like "Bully Of The Town," "Cowboy Jack;," "Down In The Valley" and "Big Rock Candy Mountain." No info on who was backing him, alas.
Vassar Clements -- see artist discography
George Clinton "The George Clinton Band Arrives" (ABC, 1974) (LP)
No, no, no... not that George Clinton. A Tennessee native, this guy was half of the creative team in an early-'70s Southern California country-rock band called Timber, which later briefly re-formed as "Volunteers," but never got much traction in either incarnation. Clinton was more of the "rock guy" in the band, with his partner Wayne Berry being more into twang. Still, this solo debut is certainly worth keeping track of here...
Clinton River Road "Travellin' On" (Secord, 1982) (LP)
Clinton River Road "Clinton River Road" (Secord) (LP)
Clover "Clover" (Fantasy Records, 1970) (CD)
Several years before becoming known as a new wave-era pop star, Marin County, California's Huey Lewis formed the band Clover, whose first album is considered a pioneering country-rock record. Spending much of the mid-1970s in the UK, the group transcended their redwoods-and-birkenstocks background and cemented their place in rock history by landing a gig backing an angry young man named Declan MacManus (aka Elvis Costello) on his first album, My Aim Is True. By the time the '80s rolled around, though, Huey needed a new drug, and he found one by pursuing a solo career... This is where it all began, though...
Clover "Fourty Niner" (Fantasy Records, 1971) (CD)
Clover "Unavailable" (Mercury/Vertigo, 1977) (CD)
(Produced by Mutt Lange)
Clover "Love On The Wire" (Mercury/Vertigo, 1977) (CD)
(Produced by Mutt Lange)
Coats & Carlson "The Coats & Carlson Demo Album" (Smoggy Valley) (LP)
(Produced by Dennis Coats & Gary Carlson)
Dennis Coats "Country Love" (Smoggy Valley, 1973-?) (LP)
Banjo player/multi-instrumentalist Dennis Coats started out playing in various alterna-bluegrass/folkie groups in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest, and wound up playing on an awful lot of indie records in the West Coast and Southwest. Around the same time he made this album, he was also in a group called The Bluegrass Band, which also had a record out on the Smoggy Valley label. This disc has a lot of original material, including the regionally-themed "Idaho National Anthem."
Ray Cobb "Ray Cobb" (Silver Star, 1986)
(Produced by Ray Cobb)
Cobble Mountain Band "Cobble Mountain Band" (Singlebrook Record Company, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by John Pilla)
An excellent album by a very accomplished band out of western Massachusetts... These guys mixed modern twang with bluesy western swing and a smidge of bluegrass, crafting a style very reminiscent of early Asleep At The Wheel, with a little bit of the rowdy good-time vibe of bands like Commander Cody, although they don't get into the rock sound. The picking is unusally high-calibre, with lots of inventive, playful riffs embedded in every song, particulalry the impish pedal steel improvs that don't overshadow the rest of the band. This group was apparently a regional New England powerhouse, though this appears to be the only album they recorded... Distributed and apparently pressed by Rounder Records, this album reminds me a lot of the Rio Grande Band (who were officially on Rounder) twang revivalists who stuck with a jazzy western swing vibe even as Ray Benson was about to lead the Wheel into a more trimmed-down, strictly-country sound. Recommended!
Tiny Cochart "The Best Of Tiny" (Coulee Recording Corporation, 1972-?) (LP)
Jack Waukeen Cochran "The Lonesome Drifter" (Rollin' Rock/Rondelet Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Ronnie Weiserat)
A rockabilly pioneer who originally went by the name Jackie Lee Cochran, this Southern boy worked on radio and and at country gigs like the Big D Jamboree. Like a lot of kids in his generation, Cochran first played honkytonk and hillbilly bop, but really caught fire when rockabilly music came around. And like a lot of guys, he rode the wave for a while but found it rough going when the rockabilly scene died down. Cochran got a day job and retired from music for over a decade, but he lucked out and caught the ear of the rockabilly revivalists in Europe, and made several albums in the '70s and '80s. The songs on this album are all Cochran originals, except for two written by hillbilly bopper Dub Dickerson... Dunno who the most of the guys in the band were, but my eye was certainly caught by Ray Campi on bass...
Jack Waukeen Cochran "Jack Waukeen Cochran" (Sunshine Records, 1983) (LP)
Betty Cody "Singing Again" (EAB Records, 1979) (LP)
A late-vintage indie outing for former New England hillbilly star Betty Cody, a pioneering 'Fifties female country singer who recorded both as a solo artist and in a duo with her husband, Hal Lone Pine. Cody's early classics have been reissued by the Bear Family and Binge Disc labels, but this album picks up where those left off... She retired from show business in the late 1950s, but cut this record in the late '70s at a regional studio in Lewiston, Maine. Apparently her son, jazz guitarist Lenny Breau, backs her on this album...
Buck Cody & His Brazos Valley Ranch Hands "...Plays Western Swing" (Wizard Records) (LP)
Early 1960’s western swing a Texas band led by music promoter/singer/magician Buster Doss, who also went by the name Buck Cody, a name taken from a character he played on a children's television show in Texas. Doss put together an entire music variety show built around the Buck Cody persona, and at the time this album came out the group included vocalists Kay Arnold and Jerry Jericho, as well as fiddler Johnny Gimble. Although originally based in Texas, Doss spent most of the '60s in Nashville, where he managed several artists and started his own record label. When he returned to the Lone Star state, Doss focussed more on show promotion and publicity, including working with Willie Nelson during the time Willie ran his own, short-lived Lone Star label.
Buck Cody "...And His Brazos Valley Ranch Hands" (Binge Disc) (LP)
Commander Cody -- see artist profile
John Cody & Paul Cody "Reflections" (Ironside Recording Studios, 1985-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Millsap)
Twin brothers John and Paul Cody had a gig at Branson in the early '80s when they recorded this album with a crew that looks like all locals... Two hefty chunks of time are taken up by a pair of medleys -- one a tribute to Elvis Presley, the other for Marty Robbins. There are some regular country songs on here, too, though I'm not sure if any were original to this album.
David Allan Coe - see artist discography
Nudie Cohen "Nudie And His Mandolin" (Nudie Records) (CD)
A souvenir album featuring the musical stylings of celebrity tailor Nudie Cohen, a Ukranian emigre who moved to Hollywood and created the some of the most famous, dazzling, outrageously baroque western-themed cowboy outfits worn by country musicians and film stars alike. This record features an extensive booklet of snapshots with Cohen posing with various clients he's tailored for, including big-name stars like George Jones and Dale Evans, as well as lesser lights like "recording artist Ned Doheny," and others. One family photo is dated 1973, so this is at least after that...
Marty Colburn "Hard Timing" (SM Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Leroy Wilkes, Jr., Will Riley, Marty Colburn & Robby Turner)
A set of all-original material by a band from Jonesboro, Arkansas. All the songs were written by Will Riley and Leroy Wilkes, Jr., with Robby Turner playing steel guitar, dobro and piano while also engineering the album. And if that ain't local enough for you, the record is dedicated to country station KFIN-108FM as well as to the Aycock Pontiac dealership in Jonesboro.
Cold Blue Steel "Cold Blue Steel" (Mr. Lucky, 1976) (LP)
Cold Steel "Cold Steel" (Ariola, 1974) (LP)
A short-lived, LA-based ensemble featuring pedal steel wiz Sneaky Pete Kleinow and fiddler Gib Guilbeau, jamming together just before the late-1974 regrouping of the Flying Burrito Brothers...
Jerry Cole & The Country Boys "Crazy Arms... And Other Country & Western Instrumental Favorites" (Crown Records, 1966) (LP)
A hotshot guitarist in the LA studio scene, picker Jerry Cole (aka Jerald Kolbrak, 1939-2008) played on numerous top pop sessions along with the A-list "Wrecking Crew" of the mid-to-late 1960s, also working side gigs for various TV shows. For years, his main day job was as a bandleader at Crown Records, the uber-granddaddy of West Coast cheapo-exploito labels, where he cranked out innumerable albums under a wild proliferation of made-up band names. In addition to surf/rock, pop and blues recordings, Cole cut tons of country records, including a few like this one that came out under his own name. Plenty of twang on here, although as with most Crown releases, the identities of the other musicians weren't listed on the liner notes, and are lost to the tides of time. Alas.
Jerry Cole "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" (Custom Records, 1968-?) (LP & MP3)
Patsy Cole "Patsy Cole" (Tra-Star, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by Mark Carman)
Singer Patsy Cole was from Maquon, Illinois, which is a long ways from Nashville, but she did make a few light ripples at the back of the country charts with this album. A fairly generic-sounding indie-label attempt at hitting a Top Forty sound, late '80s style, it kinda sounds like early stuff by Kathy Mattea or Holly Dunn or one of those reasonably rootsy gals out in Nashville. Not very original, but very professionally produced and musically solid... She sounds fine for the style.
Trilly Cole "Live In Printers Alley" (LSI-Leson Insternational, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Scotty Turner & Lee Hazen)
"Applause to an entertainer is like warm hands to a cow on a cold morning..." This is snippet of the stage patter on this live album, recorded during Trilly Cole's long-running stint as the headliner at the Captain's Table nightclub in Nashville's Printer's Alley, where she worked for fifteen years. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Cole was a child prodigy from LaPorte, Indiana who learned the banjo when she was just six years old and set off on a professional career as a teen. She's best known for her Captain's Table gig, but she also toured and played Vegas, mixing country covers with flashy intrumental numbers from pop, ragtime and old-timey sources. Cole wasn't strictly a "country" artist, but she definitely played a lot of country stuff... several of her backing musicians also went on to work other professional gigs in Nashville. I'm not sure, but I think this was her first album. The set is fun and far-ranging, though it has to be said Ms. Cole wasn't a terribly commanding vocalist, and she often rushes through songs that should be a little bit slower... She was a skillful crowd-pleaser, though, and this record gives a great picture of how she worked the room. Highpoints include her giving a shout-out to the local policemen's association, her disavowal of "women's liberators," a zippy rendition of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," a terrible (but very Seventies!) version of Kiki Dee's "I Got The Music In Me" as well as a super-misguided and completely disjointed medley of Kris Kristofferson's "Lord Help Me Jesus" and George Harrson's "My Sweet Lord." And, of course, the cow joke. More cowbell!!
Trilly Cole "Just Trilly" (LSI-Leson Insternational, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Scotty Turner & Lee Hazen)
This one has a lot of country covers, including hits of the day like "You Can't Be A Beacon," "Country Roads," and "Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," as well as instrumentals like the theme to "Exodus" and hillbilly oldies like "Old Joe Clark." Plus, omigod, you gotta love those awesome purple crocheted yarn pants... So Seventies!!
Trilly Cole "Doin' The Crawdad" (LSI-Leson Insternational, 1975) (LP)
Trilly Cole "Trilly Cole" (LSI-Leson Insternational, 1975) (LP)
This one includes several country songs, including "The Auctioneer," "Oh Lonesome Me," "Detour," and more contemporary countrypolitan numbers such as "Funny Face." There are also a lot of old-fashioned pop standards like "The Impossible Dream" and instrumental showcase pieces such as "Tiger Rag" and "The William Tell Overture."
Trilly Cole "Trilly In Nashville" (Waco Records, 1980-?) (LP)
Trilly Cole "Keep On Believing" (Waco Records) (LP)
Coleen & John "Coleen & John" (UA Recordings, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Van Dusen)
Coleen Carter and John Carter were from somewhere in South Dakota, and whether they performed together at local lounges and whatnot, I am not sure... But they sure had the right repertoire! About half this album is country stuff, with versions of "Dark As A Dungeon," "Green Green Grass Of Home," "Snowbird," "Me And Bobby McGee,: while the rest of the record showcases pop vocals hits such as "Danny Boy," "I Don't Know How To Love Him," etc.
Coleen & John "Movin' On!" (UA Recordings, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Van Dusen)
Like their previous album, this one's about one-half early 'Seventies soft-pop -- songs like "El Condor Pasa," "Sounds Of Silence" and "Sunshine On My Shoulder" -- and the other half, sunshine-country of the same era, including hits such as "Happiest Girl In The Whole USA" and "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World." As far as I know, these were their only two LPs, though a couple of years later they released a single, also produced by UA's Bill Van Dusen. But that seems, as they say, to be all she wrote.
Jim Colegrove "Panther City Blues" (Flying High, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Colgrove & Mike Talmage)
Guitarist Jim Colegrove had been a key member of Ian & Sylvia's short-lived country-rock band, Great Speckled Bird, and its spinoff, Hungry Chuck, which he formed with pianist Jeff Gutcheon and some other guys from the Bearsville label scene in upstate New York. Later Colegrove headed off to Texas, where he got more into blues and bar-band music, as heard on this album, with Jeff Gutcheon sitting it... Colgrove also was part of the Juke Jumpers band, formed with Stephen Bruton, and recorded reveral retro blues-a-billy albums with that group.
The Collins Coins "At Home With..." (Cherish Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Hoffman, Neil Wilburn, Gary S. Paxton & Mort Thomasson)
An odd album, pretty terrible actually, and not necessarily all that country but very instructive when it comes to the power of a good producer. The "Collins Coins" (strange name!) was a family-band lounge music trio from Billings, Montana who made their way to Nashville and somehow swung a deal with local radio deejay Don Hoffman, whose fledgling Cherish label was trying to break in some new talent, one way or another. This album was put together from two entirely different sessions, one helmed by Hoffman and the other by Gary S. Paxton, who also provided a few songs for them to perform. Despite the goofy white funk of "TWA," Hoffman's session lacks imaginative oomph, and did little to boost the group out of its third-tier lounge roots, particularly on lethargic version of pop hits such as "I Got You Babe," "Listen To The Music" and "Don't Pull Your Love Out." In contrast, Paxton is adept at obscuring flaws and boosting the sound of mediocre singers, keeping the band focused on the downbeat in a way that bolsters the leaden delivery of the Collins brothers, and adding perky vocal chorus and sunshine-pop arrangements that further blur the lines. To be honest, there's really nothing all that great on this record, especially if you're a country fan (they cover Mickey Newberry's "American Trilogy," but that's about it for overt twang.) Maybe the one noteworthy novelty number is "Get Your Ship Together," which had a semi-naughty chorus... But still, you could skip this one and not miss much.
Jeanne Lee Collins "At Home With..." (Jester, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jeanne Lee Collins & Bill Long)
As a teen, Montana native Jeanne Lee Collins won several regional fiddling championships... Apparently she liked to sing as well, and on this uber-indie private pressing she sounds quite a bit like Skeeter Davis (though, obviously, not quite as good...) The repertoire is straight-up country, mainly standards by folks such as Harlan Howard, Kris Kristofferson and Marvin Rainwater, along with a couple of public domain tunes and one she wrote herself -- "You've Got It All Wrong" -- which kind of makes you wish she'd recorded more of her own stuff. It's fine hearing her cover a few classics, but this disc was her one shot at immortality, and who knows? maybe she had more to offer. Anyway, this isn't a dazzling record -- the backing band is okay, and she was okay, too, for an amateur -- but it's another nice slice of some anonymous local people making music just for the love of it, without any Nashville glitz or any real hope of success. Wonder what she did after this? Well, apparently she married one of the musicians on this album, Fred Buckley, and settled down near Roundup, Montana. The Buckleys remained active in traditional music, forming a family band and helping organize the yearly Montana Fiddle Camp. They self-released a couple of albums as a family, and mentored their song, Taylor Buckley, who became a championship fiddler as well, and recorded an album of his own.
Jimmie Collins & Tex Rogers "...And Western Gospel Crusaders" (Songs Of Calvary, 1964-?) (LP)
A gospel duo from Oakland, California, who sang both as a duo and individually on this album, Collins and Rogers had previously worked in secular country, notably with western artists such as Ken Maynard and a band called the Pals Of The Purple Sage. Though born in Pennsylvania, Rogers got his nickname because he grew up near East Texas, Pennsylvania, an oddly-named dot on the map near Allentown; Jimmie Collins was originally from Chilicothe, Missouri, though apparently they produced this disc by way of a church group in California. They are backed on this album by fellow believers Gene Shelby (on "electric Hawaiian guitar"), Effie Shelby (guitar), Mary Lou Stewart (vibraphone), Royce Collier (bass), and Judith Collier (piano). More than that, I cannot tell you.
John Collins "Minstrel Man" (Northwood Way, 1978) (LP)
A solo set from one of the guys in the oddly-named Minnesota twang band, Podipto... Haven't heard it, but I gather this is in more of a singer-songwriter '70s mode....
Johnny Collinsworth "Just Like You" (Barnel Records, 1984-?) (LP)
Born and raised in West Virginia, singer Johnny Collinsworth headed for New Mexico after getting out of the Air Force in the early 1950s, where he played with the Dick Bills band before starting his own group in Albuquerque. Eventually he moved up north -- to Alaska! -- where he was living when he cut this album. The band is small, just a trio with Collinsworth on vocals and guitar, his son Buddy playing bass and Gene Burrill on drums. There's a wealth of original material on here, including five songs written or co-written by Collinsworth, and three by his cousin, Frank Buckland.
Colorado "...Sing Country Music" (Big R Records) (LP)
This band from the United Kingdom clearly had some strong American affinities... No details about the group so far, but I'll keep you posted.
Colorado "Tennessee Inspiration" (Big R Records) (LP)
Colorado Kenny "Colorado Kenny" (Frogg Records, 1984) (LP)
A professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Dr. Kenneth Krauss taught courses in social work for nearly twenty years before his country-music-crooning folksinger alter-ego of "Colorado Kenny" took over, and he resolved to abandon academia in order to sing, full time, as a living. Before deciding to drop out, he sang at nursing homes and other charitable locales, as well as a well-placed bar or two, and self-released this album, making five hundred copies to sell at shows. I'm not sure how long he rode the cowboy trail, but it sure is a colorful story!
Colt .45 "Colt .45" (Fanfare Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Colt .45 & Dave Kingland)
Outlaw country from the plains states heartland... This band from Des Moines, Iowa split their album between original songs (mostly on Side One of the LP) and cover songs that include entries from Bob Seger, Vince Gill and Kris Kristofferson's "If You Don't Like Hank Williams..." Seems like all the guys in the band got a chance to contribute a tune or two, though one of the more notable numbers has gotta be bassist Ron Carlton's "Weed And Whiskey," which certainly captures the mood of the time...
Jessi Colter - see artist discography
Bob Coltman "Before They Close The Minstrel Show" (Minstrel, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Epstein & Don Wade)
A mix of traditional old-timey stuff and original tunes, with a stringband from Jackson Heights, New York that includes Jay Ungar, Ed Trickett and Lorainne Lee.
Whitey Colyer "Sings His Favorite Songs" (Zap Records) (LP)
(Produced by Ken Alexander)
Bluegrassy covers of honkytonk oldies, from Wayneboro, Pennsylvania bandleader Whitey Colyer, a mason and housebuilder by trade who played country music while in the Army during WWII, and dreamt of playing professionally when he returned to civilian life. He fulfilled a longtime dream making this album a few decades later with his band the Blue Ridge Partners.
Comanche Gap "Comanche Gap" (Sting Records) (LP)
(Produced by Reg Brundish)
Despite the rugged, frontiers-y band name, this was actually an English country rock band, with an album recorded live at the Sundowner's Club in Hindhead, Surrey. It looks to be a late '60s session -- mostly straight country covers, as well as some pop/rock material like Sonny Bono's "Bang Bang" and Buffy St. Marie's "I'm Gonna Be A Country Girl Again." The band included lead singer Robbie Fowler, Jane Fowler on bass, Kevin Saville playing guitar and banjo, and John Standen on fiddle and drums. No date on the album, but I'm guessing this one was about 1968-69(?)
Comanche Gap "The Gap" (Sting Records) (LP)
(Produced by Reg Brundish)
It looks like the band really tried to revamp their image on this one, at least visually: they have a much hipper, more Carnaby Street "rock" look to them, and bandleader Robbie Fowler seems to have hired a new lead guitarist and drummer. Their repertoire is still pretty durn country, though, with covers of "Abilene," "Delta Dawn" and the like... They also offer up about a half-dozen original songs, written by Fowler and company. Still British, though! 1971-ish?
Donald 'Cotton' Combs "My Fiddle And I, Volume One" (Rooster Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by James C. Simons)
A lively album by an old-timey fiddler living in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a veteran regional performer whose career dates back to the Great Depression. In the 1930s, Combs was part of the Happy Hanks Show, and traveled with the band out to California, where Combs was part of the SoCal western swing scene in its prime. On this album, he pays tribute to these years with versions of several Bob Wills songs, along with a bunch of squeeky-fiddle rural old-timey tunes. Backing Mr. Combs on this album were Loy and Euna Sisemore on guitar, along with his cousin, Eldon Combs, on bass -- the same group was performing with him at a gig in Branson, Missouri's Silver Dollar City country music theme park. Apparently the Sisemores pressed and sold their own version of this album, under the title Versions Of Old Time Fiddling, clarifying that it was recorded in Arkansas, at the Gospel Melody Recordings Studios, in Fort Smith. The liner notes promise a second volume soon to come -- anyone know if that other album came out as well?
Comfort Station "Comfort Station" (Dusty Boots, 1976) (LP)
Commander Cody - see artist discography
Companie "Companie Is Comin' " (Curtain Call Enterprises, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Reed & Marty McReynolds)
Dunno much about these folks, who appear to have been a short-lived local band from Carmi, Illinois. The group had three singers -- Mike Gott, Vickie Janette and bassist Scott Kittinger, with backing from Larry Spivey on lead guitar, and Larry Dolan playing pedal steel. The album includes a cover of "Help Me Make It Through The Night" (add it to the list!) along with other twangy tunes. Few of these folks seem to have done much else musically, although Kittinger also played in a band called Hometown News. Anyone out there able to fill in the blanks?
The Concrete Cowboy Band "The Concrete Cowboy Band" (Pickwick-Excelsior, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Vining & Ed Keeley)
You wouldn't think it to look at it, but this is quite a good album... It's an offering by the Pickwick label, of all people, gathering together a bunch of high-powered "usual suspect" superpickers such as Hal Rugg, Mark Casstevens and Buddy Spicher to work their way through a set of western swing and honkytonk oldies, punctuated by some tasty newer tunes, such as Bobby Borchers' "Texas When I Die," "Country Is The Closest Thing To Heaven (You Can Hear)" and "Thank God I'm A Country Gal" (a gender-flipped version of the John Denver hit...) as well as "Concrete Cowboys," one of two songs written by producers Ed Keeley and Steve Vining. Fronting the band are two fine female singers, Donna Hazard and Nancy Walker, who for whatever reasons were not showcased as the stars of the band (there are no photos of any of the musicians) but who bring a lot of ooomph to the recordings. The production is slick, but the music is soulful... This album only yielded one super-minor hit, way in the Back Forty (and Hazard enjoyed similar success with several singles released around the same time...) Fans of Dawn Sears and the Time Jumpers, perhaps, might really enjoy this one!
Jay Conder & The Sundowners "Live At The Panhandler" (RPJW Productions, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Richard Prospero)
This live album captures a couple of shows recorded at the Panhandler nightclub, located in Dana Point, California, along the Pacific Coast Highway, way back on December 20th and 21st, 1980. It's a typical longhair country bar-band set -- not the greatest band ever, but devoted to the music and having a good time playing. Mostly it's covers of pop-country and outlaw hits, stuff like "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" and "On The Road Again" on the outlaw side (and of course a version of "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother") along with Top Forty tunes such as "Eastbound And Down" and "Lucille." Mostly it a plunky-twangy set, though on a few tracks things grind to a halt with some dreadful slow ballads that highlight the iffy covals of bassist Barney Powers; also rather iffy was Ruth Conder's solo on "Somebody's Knockin'," though Jay Conder himself had a pleasantly rugged voice. Not earthshaking, but authentic... I guess their home base was in Sparks, Nevada... at least that was the band's mailing address.
Jay Conder "Something Old, Something New" (Let It Flo, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden, Chad Heasley & Ed Glass)
T. C. Condra "Live... At The Hilton Inn Central Nashville" (Self-released) (LP)
(Produced by Willie Carroll Reinen & T. C. Condra)
An outlaw album with a lot of cover tunes, including "Are You Sure Hank Done It This A Way," "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," "Take This Job And Shove It" and of course, one more version of "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother..." In the mid-1960s, Florida singer Tom Condra was in a Beatles tribute/ripoff band called the American Beetles which toured widely throughout the US before changing its name (and artistic direction), becoming the Razor's Edge in 1966. I guess later on he got twang fever and went a little Waylon-y with this record, a session that I'd guess is from around 1978. He also recorded a single on the Mariner label in 1981, though I dunno if he's done more than that, or what became of him since then.
Connie & Ed "Introducing Connie And Ed" (Pearce Records, 1974-?) (LP)
The Pearce label was a custom recording service that pressed albums for a number of artists in the greater Kansas City area, including a high proportion of country or country-ish artists... Connie and Ed Shaw were a hopeful duo from the area who went into the studio and gave it a shot, even though neither one of them were particularly strong singers. She had an okay voice, but weak phrasing, so despite the band being kind of decent, the songs turn out sounding clunky and awkward. More's the pity since the original material on Side One is actually pretty good -- some well-crafted country songs that maybe could have gotten some traction, given the right setting. The Shaws had their own publishing company, Limestone Music, and packed their own material on the first half of the album, filling out Side Two with covers of songs such as "My Music" (a hit for Loggins & Messina in 1973), "Proud Mary" (of course), Bread's "I Want To Make It With You" and "Honeymoon Feeling," which was a hit for Roy Clark in 1974. The cover songs, interestingly enough, are loungier and less satisfying than the originals... I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess the release date on this album was 1974, possibly '75, based on the Roy Clark tune, which was a country hit in 1974. This ain't a great record, but it is one of those self-released vanity albums that has a certain sincerity and charm, and certainly a unique feel that takes you to a place and time all its own. It's worth checking out, particularly for their version of "Wichita Waitress" (credited to J. Schweer) which is one of the songs on here that could maybe stand to be revived by someone with more solid musical chops...
Larry Conley "Let Me Sing A Song" (Brylan Records, 1982) (LP)
Connie & The Kandy Kowboys "Out Late On Saturday Night" (Benson Sounds) (LP)
I couldn't find any info about this one online... Connie appears to have been an older, middle-aged fella, though I'm not sure if the Kowboys (who included three gals and two guys) were his grown-up kids... It kinda looks that way, but I can't say for sure. Also, no indication where this one was from. Help, anyone?
Jim Connor "...Personal Friend Of Arthur Kuykendall, Monk Daniel And Cluny Rakestraw" (RCA, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Milt Okun & Kris O'Connor)
Love the album title. (The three names refer to an old-timey banjoist who mentored Connor, a fiddler who played on his early albums, and the fictional(?) Cluny Rakestraw, which was apparently a made-up name that guitarist Clarence White used as a faux songwriter credit for traditional material...) Anyway, in the early 1960s, banjoist Jim Connor was part of the Richard & Jim folk duo, which had a major paying gig as performers on ABC's nationally-broadcast "Hootenanny" TV show, where they mixed genuine old-timey music with a smoothed-out version of old country variety shows. A pretty hot banjo player, Connor was a master of the Appalachian "frailing" style whose technique was praised by none other than Earl Scruggs; later in the decade he joined the New Kingston Trio, and in the early '70s he became a sideman in John Denver's band. This was a solo record that Connor made after Denver recorded one of his songs -- "Grandma's Feather Bed" -- on his 1974 gold album, Back Home Again. Denver also appears on this record, singing lead vocals on the first track, "Banjo Song," and sings harmony on some other tracks. It's a far-flung, kooky album, with kind of a similar vibe to John Hartford's '70s records, though maybe not quite as relaxed and funky. There's plenty of hot, fast banjo plunking, though, with backing by hot pickers such as James Burton, Emory Gordy and Connor's longtime friend Steve Young, who plays guitar and gets several shout-outs in the liner notes. Some of this material seems a little forced, but it's still a noteworthy album that's emblematic of the eclectic vibe of the '70s.
The Contenders "The Contenders" (Moonlight Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by The Contenders & Dave Robert)
An in-between project formed in Nashville by two members of South Carolina's cult-fave, Uncle Walt's Band... Walter Hyatt and Champ Hood worked with Steve Runkle and other musicians in the Music City orbit to record this album, though they reunited with David Ball later that year to re-form Uncle Walt later that same year, so this album wound up being a one-off event.
Lee Conway - see artist discography
Cooder Browne "Cooder Browne" (Lone Star, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Paul Hornsby)
I remember this Texas-based Southern-rock/hippie-country band being played all the time on KFAT radio, but the song they loved to spotlight was the awesome, fiddle-driven novelty number "Swinging With The Armadillo," which sadly isn't on this album. (It can be found on the "Six Pack" sampler for Willie Nelson's short-lived Lone Star label...) This album has more of a rock/funk vibe, evoking Little Feat as well as Charlie Daniels, with slight dips into more rough-edged boogie-rock material. Mostly this is too note-heavy and aggro for me: it being the 'Seventies and all, maybe they were a little coked-up? Anyway, this is one of those archetypically disappointing albums that I sought out years ago because of the whole KFAT thing and wound up not liking anything on it. Decades later, it's still the same: just not my cup of tea. But if you're into bands like, I dunno, The Outlaws or the Charlie Daniels Band, you might like this.
Ry Cooder -- see artist profile
Bob Cook "North Country" (The Great Western Gramaphone Company) (LP)
(Produced by Grant Bowen)
I'm not sure if this Canadian-issued album is by the same Bob Cook as the Iowan listed below... The repertoire looks about right, a mix of folk and country material, including songs such as "early Morning Rain," "Everybody's Talkin' At Me," "Me And Bobby McGee," "Green Green Grass Of Home" and "Louisiana Man," but the liner notes say he was from Winnipeg.
Bob Cook "Tonight: No Live Entertainment, Just Bob Cook" (Devilish Sounds, 1973) (LP)
Midwestern folkie Bob Cook was a local media celebrity in Des Moines, Iowa, who hosted a TV program called Cross Country on TV station KCCI, and performed live gigs while hosting and opening for national artists... Around 1975, he and his wife Carole Cook opened a nightclub in Des Moines calle the Waterhole, where they recorded the album below.
Bob Cook "You've Heard My Voice: Recorded Live At The Waterhole, Des Moines, Iowa" (1979) (LP)
Like his other albums, this 2-LP set is a mix of country and folk, notably including songs such as "Coal Tattoo," "Me And My Uncle" and Guy Clark's "Desperados Waiting For A Train," as well as some originals by Bob Cook.
Bob Cook "We Love Iowa" (United Federal Savings, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Eric Holtze & John Bartle)
The Doug Cook Band "Late Nights And Bar Fights" (Rocking Horse Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Greg Deutsch & Moira Pomeroy)
The Cooke Duet "The Cooke Duet" (1967) (LP)
Bluegrass gospel from the husband-wife duo of Hubert Cooke (1935 - 2018) and Jeanette Freeman Cooke (b. 1935) from Wise, Virginia. Mr. Cooke had worked as a coal miner but gave up his job in the mid-1960s to evangelize through music. Hubert Cooke's brother, Jack Cooke, played bass for Ralph Stanley, though earlier on, the siblings played together as The Cooke Brothers.
The Cooke Duet "Striving For That City" (1967) (LP)
The Cooke Duet "The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow" (Rite Record Productions, 1969) (LP)
The Cooke Duet "I'm Moving Up Home Someday" (Artist's Recording And Pressing, Inc., 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Maggard)
Despite the title, the duet is now a trio... Joined by their son, James Cooke on bass and producer Charlie Maggard on autoharp, the Cookes work their way through a new set of contemporary gospel twang. This was recorded locally, at Maggard Studios, in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. As their three sons grew older, the family band steadily expanded, and during the '70s became known as the Singing Cookes. (Thanks to Bluegrass Today for their informative bio of Hubert Cooke.)
John & Margie Cook "Down At The Tavern: 12 Songs Bluegrass Style" (Wizard Custom Series) (LP)
The Cooks were a couple from Arkansas who started performing together after getting married in the late 1940s, moving around and performing on various radio stations such as XERF, in Del Rio Texas, and XERB San Diego. They also appeared on the Smiley Burnette and Arthur Smith shows, and cut at least one major-label single for Dot Records, as well as a couple of singles through Starday's custom-label service. Settling down in Memphis, they started their own label (including the Wizard imprint, as well as Blake Records and Marble Hill) and released several albums of their own, as well as recordings of other local and regional artists. I think this was their first album, though I'm not sure what year it came out... It's a very old-timey outing, recalling the rougher edge of the same pre-Nashville era that the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers came from... Neither of the Cooks have what you might consider "great" voices, but they do have conviction and authenticity galore... Fans of odd-angled old-time stringband music might get a kick out of this one, though others might find it rough going.
Tommy Lee Cook "Tommy Lee Cook" (JBC Records, 1985) (LP)
Dunno much about this guy... He was from Fort Myers, Florida and has one of those "getting busted" album covers, where a cop is pictured hassling the band... but other than that, he's kind of a mytery to me. Anyone out there know more about him?
Shep Cooke "Shep Cooke" (WWC, 1976)
Check it out: another twangy hippie weirdo from Arizona! A veteran of the Southwestern garage rock scene, Shep Cooke moved to LA and joined the Stone Poneys when Linda Ronstadt was emerging as a folk-rock star, and was in her orbit for a couple of years, until "the label" decided to groom her for solo stardom, and fired the band. For a while Cooke bopped back and forth between Tucson and LA, playing with the local band Dusty Chaps, recording an album with the Floating House band (a trio with two other ex-Stone Poneys) and playing on Tom Waits' first album. This was the first of two solo albums recorded in the '70s, it's mostly a spacey freak-folk set but there are glimmers of country twang in there as well, along with the acoustic rock and Tom Rush/Gordon Lightfoot-ish folk. Not as much of a "hippiebilly" album as others included here, but it's worth a footnote due to his lengthy history in the same scene that fostered folks like Chuck Wagon And The Wheels, and also because his next album is a little closer to what I'm talking about. Besides, there's lots of nice guitar picking on here...
Shep Cooke "Concert Tour Of Mars" (Sierra Records, 1977)
Although most of this album is dewy-eyed singer-songwriter folkie stuff, the album is bookended by a couple of wacky, Bonzo Dog Band-ish tracks about jamming on the tunes with the little green guys on Mars, tailormade for airplay on Dr. Demento. There are a couple of other oddball songs that have an only-in-the-'70s feel: on "Tomcat Boogie," Cooke sings about singing hippie music in biker bars, and "Backstage Rock'N'Roll Star" is an interesting lament from the vantage point of the many, many talented musicians who can never quite grab the brass ring, but know a famous person or two, nonetheless. The album's cult status is confirmed by its reissue in non-vinyl format, including a Japanese import version, no less! I wouldn't say this is dazzling, but it's cute and has novelty appeal... worth knowing about, for sure.
Wess Cooke "...Sings Mother Nature" (GCRS Records) (LP)
(Produced by Wess Cooke & John Biehl)
Originally from Midland, Virginia, singer-songwriter Wess Cooke was a longtime member of the Carolina Opry, and later moved to Lancaster, PA to join the American Music Theatre, where he enjoyed a longtime residency. He had a regional hit with the song, "The Wind Keeps Whistling Dixie," though later he turned to spiritual themes, recording a couple of religious albums, such as the Church In The Wildwood CD, which is covers of standards such as "Unclouded Day" and "I'll Fly Away."
Cooker " 'Bout Time" (Scepter Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Dick Monda & Jon Deviran)
Not entirely a "country" record, but definitely one of those "only in the 'Seventies" albums. Songwriter Norman "Cooker" Des Rosier had a strong background in late '60s hard rock, as a member of the crash-and-burn New York band, The Groupies, who fizzled out and disbanded after blowing their shot at fame when their wild behavior alienated their patrons at Atlantic Records. A few years later, Des Rosier made an attempt at a solo career, and managed to get one song into the lower rungs of the Pop Top 100, "Try (Try To Fall In Love)," which is on this album. Anyway, so much for the history lesson. So what about the album? Well, it's a weird record. Primarily it's weird because Des Rosier is such an improbable lead singer: his voice has a raspy feminine feel, sort of a mix between your chain-smoking great aunt Gertie, and Gabby Hayes from the old cowboy movies. The music is a mix of bluesy folk-rock and weirdo country, but it's hard to focus on the songs themselves because the vocals sound so thin and bizarre. You're continually asking yourself, how the heck did this album get OK'd?? But here it is, an artifact of the experimental, eclectic '70s, a bit less twangy than the other records I've reviewed, but peculiar and rootsy enough to mention.
Cool Breeze "Shoot The Breeze" (LP)
(Produced by Bubba Henderson, Leonard Henderson & Don Lee)
An amiable family band led by brothers Bubba Henderson and Leonard Henderson, who seem to have traveled to Tennessee to cut this album, along with their drummer Bobby Watson and some help from studio musicians such as steel guitarist Mickey Fortune and piano player Roy Pylant, who also contributes one of three original songs on the album. As heard on their cover of Dallas Frazier's "Elvira," they seem to have been shooting for a round-toned, harmony vocals-based sound, modeled on bands like Alabama and the Oak Ridge Boys, and while at this level of the music biz, there was no way they were going to get the kind of big sound they needed to really pull it off, they still sound friendly and sincere, and like they were having fun. No indication where they were from or when this album was made, but they thank their parents, Earl and Effie Henderson, and one of the songs they recorded was written by their dad. Not an earthshaking album, but a nice, no-muss/no-fuss private recording. Probably from the early 1980s.
Larry Cooper "Sharing Dreams, Lovin' Times And Things" (Ripcord Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden, Ray Eldred & Ellis Miller)
This Seattle area artist wrote all but two of the songs on this album, accompanied by a version of John D. Loudermilk's "Indian Reservation" and one called "The Morning Of Our Lives," which seems in keeping with his own poetically-titled tunes. In addition to recording at the Ripcord label Vancouver, WA, Cooper seems to have signed with their publishing company, Ripcord Music, which is credited on all his songs.
Marty Cooper "I Wrote A Song: The Complete 1970's Recordings" (Ace/Big Beat, 2012)
Marty Cooper "A Minute Of Your Time" (Barnaby, 1972) (LP)
Marty Cooper "If You Were A Singer" (1979) (LP)
The Corbin/Hanner Band "For The Sake Of The Song" (Alfa Records, 1981) (LP)
The Corbin/Hanner Band "Son Of America" (Alfa Records, 1981) (LP)
This is one of those albums that really looks like an old, mainstream country-rock gem, but it isn't. The Pennsylvania-based duo of Bob Corbin and David Hanner assembled in the late '70s and cut two albums as the The Corbin/Hanner Band, meeting with minimal success on the Top 40 country charts. Partly that may have been because they didn't really sound all that "country" to begin with -- to my ears more of an overly slick, bland, AOR pop group. (But then again, it was the early '80s, so how could you tell?) At any rate, if you're looking for twang -- and indie twang in particular -- this album probably won't do much for you. It's way too belabored and artificial-sounding, if you ask me. They never quite cracked into the Top Forty, and broke up for a few years, returning as, simply, Corbin/Hanner in the early 1990s. Along the way, they made some ripples in Nashville as songwriters... David Hanner scored a big hit with his masterpiece (and one of my personal favorites) "Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good," a song that Don Williams took to the top of the charts in 1981. I might not be too into this album, but that song is certainly a great legacy!
John Corbin & The Sundowners "John's Presents..." (John's Recording Studio, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by John Corbin)
Real-deal amateur honky-tonk by a buncha middle-aged good ole boys from northeastern Arkansas... These guys had some rough edges and imperfections, but they're earthy and enthusiastic, and sure love the music. Lead singer John Oran Corbin (1937-1998) cheerfully channeled Merle Haggard, with a hint of Roger Miller, and while he wasn't a super-great singer, he also ain't bad: you could tell he really felt what he was singing about. There are a bunch of cover songs, including versions of "Good Hearted Woman" and Amazing Rhythm Aces' "The End Is Not In Sight," although the real gem on here is Corbin's lone original, "I Had Everything Going My Way," which is a truly great barroom ballad that sticks in your mind. Other highlights include "Sweet Mental Revenge" and the goofball novelty song, "Haunted House" (in which Corbin uses the word "haint!") This disc was recorded at John's Recording Studio, in Russelville, Arkansas (which I'm willing to bet was Corbin's own place) and features the following Sundowners: Andrew Frye (piano), Bernie Geels (drums), Gene Haugh (pedal steel), O. D. Lewis (rhythm guitar), Dean Porter (lead guitar), Will Schmitz (bass) and Ivan Smith (fiddle). The liner notes mention a previous LP, though I haven't been able to track that one down yet. Anyway, I like this album -- it's the real thing.
Jerry Corbitt "Corbitt" (Polydor, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Daniels)
The first solo album by Jerry Corbitt, co-founder of the folk-rock band The Youngbloods... There's some twang in here for sure, but this is definitely a hippie rock record, with special emphasis on the "hippie" and the "rock" parts... Some lyrics get prophetic and countercultural (more like pro-hippie cheerleading, rather than preachy) and some of it's pretty spacy and oblique, though some songs are fairly focussed. The musical end is uniformly strong, mixing thumping, grungy, plangent blues with Memphis-style R&B and an undercurrent of old-fashioned country... Listening to this, you can really pick out which elements of the Youngbloods sound came from Corbitt, as opposed to his folkier cohort, Jesse Colin Young. Given his own solo set, Corbitt really indulges his inclination towards heavy rock and electric blues, though with some creative production twists that give this an acid-soaked feel on a tune or two. Charlie Daniels, who was Corbitt's closest collaborator for many years, is mostly in the background on this one, though there are parts where you can spot his signature sound, particularly when he plays some funky country riffs of the mandolin. If you're looking for country-rock, there's not a whole lot on here, but if you're generally just into hardcore hippie music, this is a pretty solid record.
Jerry Corbitt "Jerry Corbitt" (Capitol, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Daniels)
A funky, rootsy rock album with a heavy Muscle Shoals vibe, with strong influences from CCR, Van Morrison and The Band... The studio crew included fiddler Buddy Spicher who, through the magic of multi-tracking, provides his own little string section on a couple of tunes, Corbitt's Youngbloods brother Jesse Colin Young plays on a couple of songs, and producer Charlie Daniels chimes in on various instruments. The most country-sounding track comes courtesy of Lloyd Green, who adds typically flawless pedal steel on "Till You Come Back Home Again," while "John Deere Tractor" takes sort of a tongue-in-cheek look at rural themes. I suppose the most interesting aspect of this album is the participation of country-rocker Charlie Daniels: he had produced one of the Youndbloods albums in '69 and went on to record several albums with Corbitt. This disc tilts back towards boogie-rock and swampy Southern rock territory, but mostly in a good way -- maybe more for classic rock buffs than country fans, but worth checking out either way.
The Cornbread "The Cornbread" (Mega, 1971) (LP)
Corn Bred "It's Hot" (Sierra Briar) (LP)
The Corn Dodgers "Nobody's Business If I Do..." (Rooster Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by The Corn Dodgers, Sid Blum, Eric Taylor & William Wright)
More of an old-timey kinda sound by this trio from Vermont -- Ahmet Baycu on banjo, George Ainley on fiddle and William Wright playing guitar. (Note: decades later, Ainley and Baycu were profiled in a 2008 film, Music For The Sky, a documentary about New England old-timey music.)
Jon Corneal "...And The Orange Blossom Special" (Auburn-Orange, 1974) (CD & MP3)
In his high school years, way back in 1962, Florida-born drummer Jon Corneal formed a frat rock band with future '70s country-pop star Jim Stafford and the later-legendary Gram Parsons, the self-annointed demigod of hippiebilly country-rock. That first band broke up, of course, but they all kept in touch and in 1967, Parsons tapped Corneal to play in his International Submarine Band, a short-lived project that fell apart when Parsons jumped ship to (briefly) join the Byrds. For a while, Corneal ping-ponged between Nashville and LA -- he did session work for country stars and hippie bands, everyone from Loretta Lynn to the Dillards, and in went on the road with the Glaser Brothers for a couple of years before finally moving back to Florida and setting up shop as a regional musician. This was his first solo album, recorded in Florida and featuring original music by Corneal.
Cortland Country "The Cortland Country Music Album" (Cortland Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Ocello)
A charming though slightly clumsy album, with a very DIY feel... This group from Cortland, NY, in the center of New York state was clearly a local, amateur rock group that also kinda wanted to become an amateur, local country band... Nobody in the band played fiddle, or banjo, or steel and their instruments were echoes of the late '60s garage rock scene, notably keyboards used as a lead instrument, but even though they have a Remains/Turtles vibe in the background, they definitely were playing the piano and guitars with intentional twang, and infusing their songs with a wistful country vibe. The vocals aren't great, but they do have real-folks charm, and all in all this is a nice relic of its time. Indeed, this is one of those gangly, self-released records where your first impulse is to be dismissive, but then maybe you wind up humming a song or two in your head after you've listened for a while.
John Corzine & Peggy Corzine "The Bramble And The Rose" (Blossom Bar Records, 1981) (EP)
I'm pretty sure this folkie pair did not include the 2006-2010 New Jersey governor (John Corzine) although they had an illustrious destiny of their own... The Corzines were both natives of Orange County, California, childhood sweethearts who formed a duo and played countless folk and bluegrass gigs in SoCal, particularly in their late '70s stomping ground in the city of Tustin. They were friends with another California duo, Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer, and were thanked on their 1978 album, The Bramble And The Rose for introducing McCaslin and Ringer to the title track, which was written by Barbara Keith; John Corzine also played guitar on one of Mary McCaslin's later albums. This four-song EP includes their version of "Bramble And The Rose," as well as a Dusty Owens song, "Once More," and a Corzine original, "White Lines And Road Signs." The Corzines performed together for years billed as John Corzine & Peggy Odom, her given name. Much, much later, in the 2000s, they joined a SoCal bluegrass band called the Blade Runners.
Cottonwood "Camaraderie" (ABC Records, 1971) (LP)
I'm listing this one mostly as a warning -- I've seen it described as a "country-rock" album, but I think that's really kind of a stretch. Yeah, I guess there's some twang in their sound, but it's mostly in the context of plain-old, generic, semi-psychedelic '70s boogie-rock-meets-AOR. Lots of electric guitar, some groovy harmony vocals and echo-y production, but not really much that I'd call country. Also, just in the context of 1970s guitar rock, not a lot here that I'd say you have to go nuts to track down. They were eclectic, but maybe not that listenable.
Cottonwood "Cottonwood" (Magic Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Keith Brown & Cottonwood)
Not to be confused with the hippie-era rockers above, this Midwestern, disco-era trio were aiming for a Poco-meets-Eagles country-rock sound, but along the way they plowed their way through some truly horrible musical ideas. Matters are complicated by the weak vocals of two bandmembers, bassist David Spier and drummer Bob Rolens, although their lead guitar player Larry Rolens cuts loose on a few hard-rock anthems ("Movin' On," etc.) and his voice is fine, as are his bar-band rock instincts. But honestly, a lot of this album is pretty torturous, particularly the more AOR-oriented numbers, with chunky power chords and grandiose pop-schmaltz arrangements that were meant to mimic the pop music on the radio. Oh, well. It's still a good example of the music being made by "real folks" in the '70s, but it's one of the more painful indie-twang albums I've come across. Nonetheless, the band has a pretty interesting story. The trio was from Saint Louis, and in the early '70s had a band called The Nashville Enterprise, which also included "girl" singer Vonna Faye. That band toured regionally, but apparently didn't last too long. Then there was Cottonwood, which later re-formed as the more overtly rock-oriented, late-'80s bar band, Bay Wolfe, which is notable for helping start the career of Top Forty redneck country queen Gretchen Wilson. After this hair-band folded, the Rolens brothers went deeper into the country music mainstream, with Larry Rolens joining the Bellamy Brothers and Bob Rolens helping anchor Wilson's band, after which he became part of the Well Hungarians indie-twang band. Anyway, this early work is an iffy record, at best: the bar-band rock numbers and the twangier tunes are okay, but the pop-oriented numbers are a bummer. But from humble beginnings...
Jesse Couch & The Feather Canyon Band "All Of The Reasons" (Country Club, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Louis Owens)
According to his website, singer Jesse Couch was a Kentucky native who hit the West Coast after getting out of the (Vietnam War-era) US Air Force. He started doing gigs in LA, where he stayed for five years, playing the Palomino Club and other venues, at the dawn of the California country-rock scene. He later moved to Michigan, where he set up shop as a club owner, playing gigs around Detroit in the late '70s and launching his own brief recording career. Working with songwriter David Daniel III (possiby a pseudonym?) Couch released several indie singles, including some original material that seems to have been gathered on this LP. The backing band included lead guitar Marty Campbell, John Cook on organ (... and vibes, daddy-O!), keyboard player Dean Goodman, bassist Ron Mullens, and drummer Woody Vioers. Half the songs were credited to David Daniel including the title track, which closes the album. The other songs are covers of hits, old and new: "Statue Of A Fool," "When A Man Loves A Woman," and "You Were Always On My Mind" (which sort of suggests that this was recorded around the time Willie's Stardust album came out...) as well as a Kinky Friedman song, "Highway Cafe," which was also released as a single. Couch later became a "total Christian" evangelical, and has released several CDs with patriotic and religious themes, and hosts a politically-oriented Christian radio talk show.
Sam Coughenour "We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus And A Lot Less Rock 'N' Roll" (Jewel Records, 196--?) (LP)
Hard not to be charmed by this clean-cut, earnest young fella, especially since he's dusting off that great old hillbilly anthem, Wayne Raney's novelty classic, "We Need A Whole Lot More Of Jesus (And A Lot Less Rock 'N' Roll)." Nice touch. He later became, I believe, the Rev. Sam Coughenour, co-founder of a church in rural Pennsylvania. This is really more of a Christian folk album, but deserves recognition here for his version of the title track.
Bo Coulter "Meet Bo Coulter" (Gold Sound, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy DeVito & Bill Shostak)
A bunch of original material by Boyd "Bo" Coulter, recording on an indie label from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bo Coulter "Champagne Country" (Caprice Records)
Country "Country" (Atlantic/Clean Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Michael O'Bryant & Ahmet Ertegun)
This early in the game, it's hard to be sure just how "country" a '70s band named Country might actually be, but after a gooey, electric guitar-stuffed cosmic rock opening number ("Beverly Glen") these SoCal rockers do deliver the goods, with a sweet if somewhat amorphous set of spacy, mellow, country-folk-rock tunes. With plenty of pedal steel and dobro to draw twangfans in, this is largely a spaced-out, folk-ish outing, at least in terms of the lyrics -- a set of songs that never quite cohere into anything memorable, but have a pleasant, slightly narcotic effect. Songwriters Michael Fondiler and Tom Snow seem sincere enough in a zoned-out hippie-dippy kinda way, and the lead vocals (Snow, I think...) remind me of Jerry Jeff Walker, while there's a slightly swampy, Muscle Shoals-ish feel to some of the music. Worth checking out, but maybe a little further into the rock side of things for me. (Historical stuff: Fondiler was in a series of mid-'60s bands with Jay Ferguson, who went on to found the Top 40 rock band Spirit; Tom Snow went on to be a frighteningly successful mainstream '70s-'80s pop songwriter, although chances are the only one of his songs you've heard of -- or remember -- is "Let's Hear It For The Boy," from the movie Footloose. Trust me: this hippie folk-rock stuff was better.)
A Country Band "Music By A Country Band" (Golden Eagle Records, 1973-?) (LP)
Behold: the most generic country record ever made! I couldn't resist. I mean, yeah sure, it cost me fifty-one cents and I was sure it wasn't going to be very good, but how could I pass this one by? This seems to have been a souvenir album made by the Golden Eagle label, which produced several albums in the 1970s which I believe were part of a tourist attraction related to the old steamboat industry... Anyway, turns out this album is actually pretty good -- two young guys picking and singing banjo and guitar in robust, salty renditions of golden oldies from the Antebellum and pre-bluegrass eras, as well as the cowboy-western and white gospel traditions... There's no information at all about who played on this record or when it came out, just the picture on the front (an anonymous group portrait from the 19th Century) and the song titles on the disc -- other than that, it's literally a blank slate. A little diligent research, though, and one discovers that this was the recording debut of guitarist Orville Johnson, who at the time was working on a tourist paddlewheel steamship, the SS Julia Belle Swain, and was an up-and-coming artist in the St. Louis music scene. I still dunno who was playing with him, but when I find out, I'll let you know. It's a nice record: thanks in advance if anyone has any additional info to add!
The Country Bells "Our Very First" (Renee Records) (LP)
(Produced by Bud Comte & Ernie Kucera)
A later album by Iowa bandleader and guitarist Don Muzney (1937-2015) who used to be in a '60s band called the Country Boys, that played regularly on the "Star-Lite Jubilee" TV show, as well as various radio and live gigs in and around Des Moines. Around 1969, after a few years touring on the road and trying his luck in Nashville, Muzney returned to Jefferson, Iowa and formed the Country Bells, a family band that included his wife Carol as singer and son Hank on drums. As far as I know, despite the optimistic title this was their only album and the finer details are still pretty elusive... There are several cover songs -- Merle Haggard's "White Line Fever," Charlie Daniels' "Long Haired Country Boy," versions of "Don't Touch Me" and "Fox On The Run" and even Ronnie Reno's "Boogie Grass Band" and "Luxury Liner," whose most popular renditions came in the late '70s, placing this (undated) album probably somewhere around 1979-81. There are a few tracks that might have been originals, but unfortunately there are no songwriter credits, so I'm not totally sure. To be honest, although the musicianship is solid, this album is poorly recorded and the vocals sound a bit unreheased, but still there's soulfulness and sincerity galore, and their obvious love of and appreciation for a wide variety of country styles carries the day.
The Country Bluegrass Revue "The Country Bluegrass Revue" (Now Records) (LP)
The Country Boys "The Best Of The Country Boys" (Camaro Records) (LP)
(Produced by Style Wooten)
Pretty much a strictly-locals band with guys from Arkadelphia and Malvern, Arkansas, singing a mix of covers and original material. The group consisted of Clyde Bolt (harmonica), Junior Helms (lead guitar), Raymond Ray (lead guitar), Wayne V. "Hap" Roberson (bass, emcee), Jody Stiles (rhythm guitar), and Lincoln Wilson on drums. Apparently they traveled to Memphis to record this album, though they were all Arkansas lads as far as I can tell. The album includes several originals, including a number of instrumentals, as well as songs written by various bandmemebrs: "I'll Be Obliged To You" by Hap Roberson, "Freight Train And A Model T Ford" by Clyde Bolt, and "Love Letters" by Raymond and Wilson.
The Country Briars "Presenting The Versatile Country Briars" (Studio City Records) (LP)
(Produced by John Michaelson)
A twangy trio from around Minneapolis, Minnesota, led by "girl" singer and multi-instrumentalist "Buckshot" Bebe Allen, along with her husband, bassist Rick Allen and flattop guitarist Duane Carter. At the time they recorded this album, they were the house band for a country bar called the Flame Cafe, where Bebe's sister Betty often joined her in a duo. About half the songs here are Allen originals or co-compositions, augmented with tunes by Jack Clement, Harlan Howard and the like. Apparently Rick and Bebe "Allen" were the stage names for a husband-wife couple whose real surname was Svenddal -- the Svenddals were successful regional artists, backing Dave Dudley for a while and playing on TV programs such as North Country Shindig, an Opry-esque weekly variety show based in Cloquet, MN which they founded and ran until 1976. Bebe Allen later devoted herself to singing gospel music, and passed away in 2013, followed by Rick Allen in 2014. Their son, Albert Svenddal, became a proficient pedal steel player, performing under the name C. T. Allen.
The Country Briars "Originals" (Delmarti Records, 1970-?) (LP)
The Country Bugs "Walk Me In The Sunshine Of Your Love Love Love" (Country Bugs Records) (LP)
Not a lot of info on this early '70s band, other than that they were from the Pacific Northwest, and did a weekly show on radio station KABM, in Longview, Washington. They also worked with singer Roosevelt Savannah, at least on a few live gigs around 1973.
Country Butter "Country Butter" (Faniork/Denim Records, 1978) (LP)
An endearing mix of styles from this obscure trio from Mendocino, California... Bandmembers include Bobbie Brittain (banjo & dobro), Eric Brittain (lead guitar) and Carmon Brittain (bass) who were presumably siblings, Bob being billed as "Buffalo Bob" on the inner sleeve. They played some bluegrass, but also pre-Nashville country oldies by Jimmie Rodgers, acoustic versions of Bob Wills ("New San Antone Rose," sung in the style of Hank Snow) and a slew of original tunes, including instrumentals that dip into Delmore Brothers-ish bluesiness and a hint of "new acoustic" guitar music, and several with Northern California-themed names, such as "Petaluma Express" and "Mendocino Waltz." No trace of the outlaw style of the times, but a nice, amateur effort by some traditionalists from the rural backwoods of the West. Interestingly, old-timer Cliffie Stone contributes brief liner notes, mentioning their performances at festivals -- dunno if they ever played with him, though.
Country Cargo "Get It On The Road With Country Cargo" (Cargo Records) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Rhinehart)
Absolutely no idea who these guys were, but this trio -- Jerry L. Davis, Scott LaBouef and Jerry Rhinehart -- appear to have just been some buddies who made an album together just for the heck of it. They cover a couple of Eagles songs, "Midnight Rider" and "Tequila Sunrise," along with some rock'n'roll oldies like "Boney Maronie," "My Girl" and "Solitary Man," as well as "If I Were A Carpenter," so I'm guessing these guys just liked to sing, maybe while they were working together on a ranch or a logging job or something like that, maybe around 1974-75. And, guys? If you're out there, feel free to get in touch and let me know more about where and when you made this album. I'm all ears!
The Country Cavaleers "Presenting The Country Cavaleers" (JBJ, 1974-?) (LP)
These longhaired Jesus-freak country-rockers hailed from Tampa Florida, though they went to Music City to make it big around 1971, and didn't quite click with the conservative vibe of a pre-outlaw Nashville. The Cavaleers (sic) were ex-rockers Buddy Good and James Marvell, who started out as Nuggets-style mid-'60s garage rockers playing in a variety of little-known bands, including a psych-pop group called Mercy that had a short-lived major-label contract in 1969. But being Southern boys, they also moonlighted in a country band and when the rock gig fell through, they decided to make a go of it as twangsters, combining a shaggy, hippie-esque look with a down-home, moralistic Christian philosophy, spiced up with some pop-rock hooks. They were square pegs in a world of round holes, but a case can be made they were groundbreakers as well, at least as far as their image went... For a couple of years they were in the orbit of the Wilburn Brothers, touring with the old-timers and appearing frequently on their TV show. The Cavaleers made a few waves and got a couple of nibbles from MGM and other labels, but by the time they made this LP, they were deep into the indie/custom label vortex. The duo worked together up until around 1977, with a posthumous live album coming out sometime around 1980. James Marvell, whose real name was Carlos Zaya, went solo for a few years and even recorded some Freddy Fender-esque bilingual twang, but he met with limited success, and later worked as a Christian country artist. (Many thanks to Edd Hurt for his informative article and interview on Perfect Sound Forever, which also includes a discography that includes the Cavaleers numerous singles...)
The (Country) Cavaleers "Live On Stage: A Special Tribute To Elvis Presley" (Versha Records, 1980-?) (LP)
Though billed as an homage to Elvis Presley, this album is a 'Fifties-era nostalgiafest that includes oldies by Chuck Berry and Hank Williams, as well as several Elvis tunes. Most of the tracks are live, recorded at a gig in Morganton, North Carolina, though the record seems to have been padded out with some studio recordings as well. The Elvis angle implies that this came out around 1977-78, though Edd Hurt's discography places it around 1980. Who knows?
The Country Class Band "Texas Girls Have Country Class" (Country Class, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Henry Martin)
The Country Class Band "Good Feelin's " (Country Class, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Michael Henry Martin)
A band from Wichita Falls, Texas with just the band name on the album jacket, but lead singer Joe Brumley's name also listed on the inner label. Guess they couldn't decide how democratic to be about this one, and how much Brumley wanted to be the "star" of the show(?) Anyway, they try really hard to get into the synthy sound of contemporary, early-'80s Top Forty country. It doesn't really work, but it's still a good example of a regional indie band trying to play by Nashville's rules...
The Country Classics "Outstanding In Their Field" (197--?) (LP)
These beard-y, semi-longhairs from South Dakota were devotees of outlaws like Waylon and redneck libertarians like Charlie Daniels... A rock-solid working class twang band, they thank the folks at the Stauffer Chemical company (where doubtless they worked) as well as fans in Sioux City and Oakdale... They cover lots of attitude-heavy twang classics, like "Long Haired Country Boy" and "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother," though oddly enough some of the best tracks are heartsongs, like their cover of Conway Twitty's "I've Never Been This Far Before." To be honest, the Classics weren't really a very skillful band, and their performances are kinda workmanlike and clunky, although they were clearly into it and their repertoire is kind of a hoot. At any rate, if you're not too picky about musicianship and stuff like that, this is one of those old '70s records that's a very honest snapshot of bar bands of the time -- it's the real deal, even if it ain't exactly Waylon & Willie. One minor mark against them for leaving the n-word in their cover of David Allan Coe's "If That Ain't Country," though maybe I'd have to give the point back to them for staying true to the source material.
Country Coalition "Country Coalition" (ABC-Bluesway, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Todd, William Schnee & Don Gallese)
A country rock/pop group that included Pennsylvania-born songwriter John Henry Kurtz, who later became known for recording the original version of the pop hit "Drift Away," although here was in more of a twangy mode. The band first came together in 1968 and briefly included bluegrass pioneer Doug Dillard, though when it came time to make a record, Dillard peeled off and returned instead the Dillards during their ground-breaking psychedelic phase. Kurtz was doing his part, though, for the country-rock cause, though the influences were often separated out into separate tracks on this album, which opens with a fuzz-guitar hippie-boogie freakout ("Your One Man Band") and has a few tracks that stand out as more-country than others. Still, there's a cool mixing of styles, with a white soul undercurrent that brings folks like Don Nix and Leon Russell to mind, and a number of standout tracks, such as the impassioned working-man ballad, "Poverty" and a groovy, soulful version of Charlie Rich's "Life's Little Ups And Downs," as well as a number of would-be-hit sunshine-pop songs, with group vocals reminscent at time of the Mamas & Papas. Among the notable side musicians is Kurtz's pal, Kenny Loggins, who he formed a duo with in the early '70s, and the group's "girl" singer Peggie Moje has a couple of noteworthy moments, including some solo vocals where she sounds a bit Ronstadt-esque (and I mean that in a good way!)
Country Coalition "Time To Get It Together" (ABC-Bluesway, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Todd, William Schnee & Don Gallese)
This would appear to be a straight-up, song-for-song re-release of the self-titled album above. Guess the original title or album art wasn't deemed to be hip and groovy enough for the hippie scene? I dunno. Anyway, people say that the band cut three albums, although I don't know if they're including this disc in that headcount... They also contributed to various one-off projects -- soundtracks for movies and TV -- before the original lineup fizzled out. John Henry Kurtz left the group not long after this album came out and in 1973 released a solo album, Reunion, also for the ABC label. The other three members, Dick Bradley, Peggie Moje and Tom Riney, recorded at least one other album in the '70s, although I don't know if they actually kept together as a formal band the whole time. After doing some session work as a violinist, Moje moved to Portland, Oregon and switched gears artistically, dedicating herself to painting, with some occasional music gigs, including backing cowboy folkie Rich Mahan.
Country Coalition "Potato Pickers" (White Cloud Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Richard Bradley & Tom Riney)
Country Colman "In The Arctics" (Arctic Circle, 19--?) (LP)
Colman Loftis was an Alaskan country singer, originally from Missouri but a resident of Kotzebue, Alaska when this was recorded... The material was all originals, with Loftis joined by Speedy Price on steel guitar, along with Nick Burris (bass), Doug Harner (drums), Tex Housden (rhythm guitar) and Frank Hutchison (lead guitar). Not sure when this came out, either in the 1960s or '70s...
Country Cookin' "Front Burner" (Country Cookin', 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Country Cookin' & Charlie Strickland)
Not to be confused with the Tony Trischka/Kenny Kosek bluegrass band of the early '70s, these dudes from Florida look like some real good old boys... The group was led by singer Leonard Blackwelder, who had previously recorded a single around 1974-75 with his old band, the Break Timers. On this album, he was joined by Harold Floyd on rhythm guitar (and lead vocals on three songs, including his own "This Time She's Gone"), Skip Ellis on steel guitar, Ron Moody playing bass, Bob (any relation to Lyle?) Lovett on drums, and Tom Murphy playing piano. The album includes several original songs; Blackwelder wrote "I Need Someone To Talk To Tonight" and "Why Did I Have To Be The One" as well as one by Tom Murphy, "Time Is My Best Friend." They also play a bunch of cover songs, including David Allan Coe's "Jack Daniels If You Please," "Tulsa Time," "Rockin' My Life Away," as well as some tunes by Merle Haggard and Larry Gatlin... Blackwelder, who was born in Florida, apparently moved to Athens, Tennessee later in life, but I don't think he pursued much musically after this.
The Country Cousins "The Best Of The Country Cousins" (A & R Record Manufacturing Corporation, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Richard Halverson)
Country Cousins "First Time Around" (A & R Record Manufacturing Corporation, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Richard Halverson)
An uber-indie release by some young musicians from Sturgis, South Dakota, who went to Dallas to cut this album. The band includes brothers Lars and Lynn Aga, on lead guitar and lead vocals, along with drummer Sam Hilmer, and his sister Denise, who also sings lead. All but one of the bandmembers were teenagers when this album was produced. Honestly? It's not a great record, although it is quite enjoyable. This is the very definition of a vanity album made by amateur musicans just for fun: they sound unrehearsed and like they just learned to play their instruments, but they also sound like they were having fun, and that they enjoyed playing together. The production values are minimal, basically a flat mix around an unfiltered microphone, and several tracks don't even include all their instruments. And I gotta say, of all the bazillion versions of "Proud Mary" recorded on private albums during the 1970s, I think this one -- mostly just ragged group vocals around a single acoustic guitar -- is my all-time favorite. I also love the liner notes, where they say they don't know what they're gonna do after they graduate high school, but they kind of wish they could just stay at home, working on the ranch. Now, that's country!
The Country Crusaders "Crusader Ride" (Blue Ash Records) (LP)
A mix of rock oldies like "Roll Over Beethoven" and country classics such as "Crazy" and "Room Full Of Roses." Not sure when this was recorded, or where the band was from, though it was definitely sometime in the mid-1970s, judging by how scruffy the younger members of the band look.
Country Current "Goin' Country With The Current" (1974) (LP)
One of the more unusual bluegrass bands of the '70s, to be sure! Country Current was a twang band made up of active members of the United States Navy, playing traditional and progressive bluegrass. They played numerous concerts and recorded several albums that were used as promotional recruitment tools... Sort of like the Marines marching band, but with banjo and fiddle. And one of their secret weapons? A nuclear-powered Bill Emerson, co-founder of The Country Gentlemen, on banjo... He joined the band in 1973, and stayed with them for two decades! Who knew??
Country Current "We Pick The Navy" (1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jerry Gilmore & Bill Emerson)
A pretty cool set, all things considered, and way less bluegrassy than you might think... Bill Emerson picks some sweet banjo but he keeps a relatively low profile, blending in with the rest of the band, with a few big solos on a tune or two. On the opening tracks of Side One the band pays explicit homage to the armed forces, starting with the jovial, anthemic title track, "We Pick The Navy," written by lead singer Jerry Gilmore, followed by "I'm A New Man," a Red Lane song about getting into bar fights and other trouble after signing up... The rest of the record pursues a more "secular" approach, with country novelty songs, including two Charlie Daniels songs, a version of Buzz Cason's "Emmylou," a pretty good rendition of "The Gambler," and even a Billy Joel song(!) The musicianship is uniformly solid, although if the truth be told, the vocals are kind of weak... sincere, and fully commited to the material, but Gilmore is a bit wobbly as a frontman. Overall, this one's worth tracking down and giving a spin -- they were definitely smack dab in the swing of things as far as the outlaw and redneck rock scenes go, and the set list is consistently engaging.
The Country Docs "Live At Crow's Mill School" (1981) (LP)
This bluegrass-y band included Illinois State Champion fiddler Ellis Schweid...
The Country Drifters "Country The West Coast Way" (Trio Club Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Joe Bielinski & Jerry Abbott)
Drummer Joe Bielinski sold this record from his home address in Mingus, Texas (and presumably a few live shows) It's a tribute to the robust West Coast country sound associated with Buck Owens and his compatriots. The Drifters were together for at least four decades, though as far as I know this was their only LP. This edition of the band includes famed steel guitarist Ralph Mooney, who helped shape the hits of Bakersfield Sound stars such as Wynn Stewart, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. The rest of the band were Fort Worth-area musicians, including fiddler Merle David, piano player Mike McClain, bassist Bill Gilley and guitar picker Tommy Spurlock, with vocals by Bob Pritchard, Randall Branscum and Royce Turney. Nice, down-to-earth twang and pickin' from some Lone Star locals.
Country Folk "Down To Earth" (Mugtime Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Turley Richards)
This album was a collaboration between Louisville, Kentucky songwriters Bill Clark (who also played fiddle and guitar) and John Gage (dobro and guitar) with over half the songs being original material. They cover Woody Guthrie, the Beatles, the Byrds and do a version of Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother," though twangaholics might be even more drawn to the band's own songs, such as "Tennessee Mountain Hideout" and "Small Town Waitress." Gage went on to record several cassettes -- and later CDs -- in the 1980s, '90s and '00s, as well as doing community theater with the Kentucky Theater Project... I think this was his first album.
Country Funk "Country Funk" (Polydor, 1970) (LP)
This Massachusetts rock band had a "country" feel in the same way as the Byrds, Youngbloods or Moby Grape -- hippiefied twang was part of their overall musical mix, one stylistic thread in a tapestry of harmony-laden psychedelic boogie rock. They probably sound most like Buffalo Springfield, although they occasionally bop along over into some pretty perky sunshine-pop. A pretty tight band, though, and the twang vibe is definitely there... If you're a fan of this type of experimental, eclectic hippie rock, you'll probably want to check these guys out... They are one of the great "lost" bands of the era.
Country Grass "Country Grass" (Opus Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Tony Pettinato)
They mighta been 'grassy, but these guys from Columbus, Ohio covered outlaw classics by Waylon Jennings and Jerry Jeff Walker, as well as Jerry Reed's "East Bound And Down," along with stuff by Flatt & Scruggs, and some Johnny Cash, for good measure. The band featured four guys from the Eastridge family: Al, Ed, Larry and Randy, along with lead guitarists Phil Frenz and Ron Humes, and a few more guest singers and pickers. On the back cover they thank Merl and Bonnie Johnson, owners of a bar called Bonnie & Betty's Place, with a photo of the band lounging outside, so doubtless they played some gigs there. Now, to tell the truth, the vocals and picking are on the amateurish side, maybe even more than your average vanity album, but they give it their best, sounding very much in the New Riders Of The Purple Sage, hippie twang style... They weren't musical virtuosi, but they were pretty plucky and a good example of their times and the genre.
The Country Hearts "Home Grown" (Major Label Records, 19--?) (LP)
This family-based band from Stephen City, Virginia had been around for about ten years before they recorded this, their first (and only?) album... Bassist and bandleader Bland Ritenour taught his sons guitar and recruited a few friends to play local shows.
The Country Jans "Baby It's You" (Jomar Records, 1978) (LP)
This album was recorded by two marvelously beehived gals from South Dakota -- Jan Tchida of Lake City, SD and Janet Iverson from nearby Hazel, two tiny towns firmly located left of the middle of nowhere. They're backed on this album by the Tibor Brothers, a North Dakota musical family who supported a lot of regional artists over the years and also owned the Jomar label, acting as its house band. The Jans cover some classics by Don Gibson, Lefty Frizzell and Eddy Raven, and also recorded a couple of originals written by Tchida, as well as some others that look like they might have been written by other locals. They also include Ronnie Milsap's 1975 hit, "Daydreams About Night Things," which is the most contemporary hit on here. Amazingly enough, the title track is not cover of the girl group oldie, but rather one of Tchida's own songs. I wouldn't say either of these gals were great singers, but they wrote some decent songs, and were definitely "into it" when they made this record...
Country Judo Jim "Long Stemmed Red Roses" (Country Bugs Records) (LP)
(Produced by John Hull & Mark Snider)
This is sort of outsider-art country music, from Columbus, Ohio's Jim Moss... To be honest, Moss was not a great singer, but he had a certain joie de vivre that enlivens these kooky tunes, despite the sometimes iffy vocal phrasing and whatnot, and it's always nice to hear an album of all-original material. There are several songs about the country music biz ("Stetson Hats And Cowboy Boots" and the self-mythologizing "Country Judo Jim"), some romantic stuff, including "I Get High" -- where he tells his true love he doesn't need pot or booze when snuggling is more than enough -- and a fair number of songs about drinking and whatnot. There's also a Doctor Demento-able novelty number, "Beep Beep Beep," about a guy in love who makes funny noises when they're fooling around... This disc skirts the edges of the whole so-bad-its-good thing, but it also has some genuine nutball charm, and I think Moss was pretty sincere in his aspirations. The band's pretty solid, too - local guys as far as I can tell -- with fiddle, steel and plenty of twang.
The Country Kings "Just Playin' Country" (Bright Productions) (LP)
It's hard to find any info about these guys... The album was recorded in New Glarus, Wisconsin, though I'm not sure where the musicians themselves lived... I recognize some of the more obvious cover songs, stuff like "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," "Cattle Call" and "San Antonio Rose" but there are a few songs on here that might have been originals, such as "Cowboys Ain't Supposed To Cry" and "Honky Tonk On Loser's Avenue."
The Country Lancers "Solid Country" (Tornado Records) (LP)
(Produced by Dale McCoy & Carl Warren)
The Lancers were the house band at rodeo roper Kenneth Lance's sports arena in Ada, Oklahoma, a regional venue that hosted a lot of top country talent, with visiting stars often backed by Jim Napier, Dusty Rhodes and the rest of the band. Perhaps their main claim to fame is having backed an unknown local gal, Reba McEntire, way before her rise to mega-fame in Nashville. Reba's brother, rodeo rider Pake McEntire, also sang there and probably tackled a steer or two as well... Not sure what year this one came out, but it's certainly sometime in the early 1980s -- in her liner notes, Reba mentions that she and Pake performed with the group ten years earlier, well before she went nationwide.
The Country Legend Band "Deadlines" (Blue Ash Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Lowe)
The Country Liberation "The Western Lounge Presents..." (Nashville North Records) (LP)
The Country Masters "...First" (Rite Record Productions) (LP)
The Countrymen "With Good News" (Psalms Records) (LP)
(Produced by Stan Anderson)
A true-twang gospel group from Stockton, California featuring Jerry Short on steel guitar, Jim Myers on lead, with Eldon Hicks playing rhythm and Bill Carter pluckin' bass. (Mr. Carter also played in the equally rough-edged local band, the Christian Troubadours, whose lineup changed over the years; Carter recorded at least one solo album under his own name...) Legendary Fresno, California recording engineer Stan Anderson helmed these sessions, one of countless bazillions of Central Valley gospel albums he produced...
The Countrymen "The Way To Travel" (Psalms Records) (LP)
The Countrymen "Just For You" (Split Rail Productions, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Don D. Sheets & Judd Kelly)
Not to be confused with the Stockton, California evangelicals of the same name, this Countrymen band was large country ensemble from Indiana, centered around the vocal quartet of Jerry Abram, Natt Abram, Ron Freeman and Steve Hamm... the backing band included Tom Kinser (lead guitar), Dave Jackson (steel), Dan Jackson (drums), Doris Maners (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Chet Maners (bass). Looks like a mix of covers and original material...
The Country Misfits "The Country Misfits" (Misfit Productions, 1967-?) (LP)
(Produced by R. F. DeLisa & W. A. Kalouch Jr.)
A pretty down-to-earth country quartet from Wethersfield, Connecticut, your basic guitar-bass-and-drums kinda combo. The songs have generic themes, though several are credited to bandmembers... the group included Bob Branch on drums, Roger Hart (bass), Rocky LaRue (rhythm guitar), and Red Shea (lead guitar), playing both instrumentals and vocal numbers. They were twangy though not particularly choppsy... just a bunch of friends having fun, from the sound of it.
The Country Ramblers "Ramblin' South" (RCA, 1981)
This album features a later edition of a late-'70s Iowa band originally named the Ozone Ramblers, which was also intertwined with the regionally successful Poker Flatts band. They self-released a 45rpm EP before landing a major-label deal, and despite RCA changing the band's name on the LP, they continued performing under their original name. Oddly enough, they toured extensively in Mexico (where this album as recorded) and for a while the band featured a young Suzy Bogguss as their female singer for a few months in early 1982. (She's not on ths album, but it's still an interesting aside. This disc features singer Sally Weisenburg who was with the band earlier...) All this info comes courtesy of a website maintained by one of the original bandmembers.
Country Ray "Songs By Country Ray" (1983-?) (LP)
Man, it's hard to get more obscure than this... The back cover of this album is blank; the only information inside or out is a photo of Ray (no last name) and the song titles... Country Ray was obviously not a professional, or even semi-professional, performer, just some guy who had a passle of favorite songs and probably always wanted to make a record, just for kicks. The material is heavy on sentimental oldies, the kind of material that artists such as Gene Autry, Elton Britt and Jimmie Davis recorded back in the Depression era. There are ballads, gospel tunes, patriotic songs, delivered a capella (!) by Mr. Ray in a croaking, halting voice -- he often hesitates or falters, apparently remembering the lyrics, and he introduces each track by saying "requests by Country Ray" then gives the song title... Several tracks Side One are harmonica solos, of an equally unpolished, unvirtuosic nature. It all has a stark, Library Of Congress kind of feel, and you may diving faint echoes of Ernest Tubb or Johnny Cash in Ray's plainspoken monotone... At any rate, this is about as unfiltered and completely amateur a private vanity album as you're ever likely to hear. Any info about this album is welcome.
The Country Revolution "Live At Nashville West" (Trac Records, 1974) (LP)
This Fresno, California bar band, featuring lead singer Billy Bryant, plays all covers on this fake-live album, and although there's no original material, they do sound pretty darn good. Lively, stripped-down musicianship with heartfelt performances of countrypolitan hits by Mac Davis, Freddy Weller and Kenny O'Dell, with a slight nod towards Bakersfield with one Wynn Stewart song. I'm guessing at the 1974 release date, based on their flaired pants, muttonchops and medium-length hair, as well as their repertoire and a couple of mentions in the Fresno Bee newspaper in the winter of '73-74. The "Nashville West" was a bar on Fresno's sprawling Blackstone Avenue (and whose name was an echo of the nickname of an earlier music venue, the Big Fresno Barn, which was host to countless top-name country and western-swing artists in bygone years.) Anyone know more about these guys?
The Country Revolution "Live At Jim's Place" (Nashville West Records, 1976-?) (LP)
(Produced by Mark Moseley & Billy Bryant)
Another live album, this time recorded at Jim's Place, a once-fabled bar in Clovis, California... The record is dedicated to bandmember Gene Staggs (1944-1976) who sings lead on three of the tracks, including versions of Gary Stewart's "Flat Natural Born Good Time Man" and Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles."
The Country Revolution "This Is Country Revolution Country" (Nashville West Records) (LP)
(Produced by Mark Moseley & Billy Bryant)
The Country Revolution "First Endeavor" (GDS Records, 1981) (LP)
This was an entirely different band, recording in the early 1980s, possibly from the Midwest, although I'm not totally sure where. The group featured singers Jim Cahill and Jerry R. Johnson, and recorded some original material as well. Once again, I'm guessing at the release date: Johnson copyrighted his songs in '81, so it's at least that late, though possibly later.
Country Rhoads "In The Back Of Pappy's Truck" (Roymac Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Vern Deaton)
Marge and Debby Rhoads were a mother-daughter duo from Paradise, Kentucky who brought a wealth of original material with them to this Nashville session, cut with bluegrass legend Jesse McReynolds at the helm and on mandolin; also in the studio band are Josh Graves on dobro, Tim Crouch playing fiddle, and Mike Lattimore on banjo. About half the songs are Rhoads originals, alongside covers of oldies by Bradley Kincaid, the Everly Brothers and a version of Dolly Parton's classic, "To Daddy." As you might expect, they had a very sweet, sincere, old-timey feel, reminiscent of the Carter Family and other country artists from a more gentle, acoustic-based era. This might not quite knock your socks off, but it's a very soulful, authentic album nonetheless. Worth a spin, if you go for old-fashioned, sentimental material.
The Country Road "Our Very Best" (Renee Records) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Hall & Bobby Ernspiker)
This longhair lounge band from Lexington, Kentucky was playing a place called the Bonanza Inn when they cut this album. It's a mix of covers and original material, ranging from bluegrass oldies like "Banks Of The Ohio" to R&B warhorses such as "Susie Q." The band was led by guitarist Bill Lester, backed by brothers Frank Curtis, on piano and organ and Larry Curtis on bass, Joe Weber playing fiddle and Jim Boggess on banjo. They were also in the orbit of Ward Darby, another longhair bandleader who put out a few records in the late 1970s -- he's listed as a "technical advisor" on this album. The main vibe is bluesy white soul, though there is a Charlie Rich-ish country feel as well. They were a little sluggish in their delivery, but it's a charming album nonetheless because this is so clearly the kind of music they liked, played the way they wanted to play it.
The Country Roads Band "More Work Ahead" (Ocean Records) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Maxwell)
The Country Rock Edition "The Country Rock Edition" (Tarot Records, 197--?) (LP)
A clunky though semi-charming set of country covers -- mid-'70s outlaw stuff, some Top Forty hits, and a smidge of rockabilly -- including odd selections such as "Plastic Saddle," "Third Rate Romance," "Seeds And Stems," a couple of Waylon Jennings tunes ("Cedartown, Georgia" and "Hank's Song") and even a version of Glen Campbell's "Country Boy (You've Got Your Feet In LA)". This one's a mystery record -- no idea where these folks were from, though I assume they were an aspiring, would-be lounge act from somewhere in the South. They recorded this album at the Nashville Central Recording Studios, under the supervision of Jerry Sparks, who also provided some modest string arrangements on some tracks. Basically, though, this was the stripped-down trio of guitarist Ron Carpenter, drummer Sherry Jenkins and lead singer Donnie Jenkins, who had a good voice, although he could have been better framed than he is on this album. They all deliver fairly sluggish though heartfelt performances, the very epitome of amateur musicmaking, but also with the kind of earnest, hopefulness that can make these "private" albums so endearing. No meanies or sarcastic hipsters need to pick up this album: we already know what you're going to say!
Country Rovers "Making An Album In Nashville" (Globe Records) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Maxwell)
The husband-wife duo of Ginny and Joe Baker hailed from Wooster, Ohio and headed down to Nashville to cut this disc, which I believe was their only album. It's all cover songs, except for the presumably autobiographical title track, "Making An Album In Nashville." Ginny Baker also recorded a single of "Columbus Stockade Blues"/"I Wanna Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart," for the local indie label United Audio in 1972, and this LP looks like it's from around the same era, possibly a few years earlier. The personnel included Bill Phelps on fiddle, Terry Goad on drums and Buddy Edgell on guitar, with Joe Baker playing bass... Locals, all!
The Country Score "Live At The Handlebar-J" (Handlebar-J Records, 197-?) (LP)
This live set was recorded at a Scottsdale, Arizona country bar and steakhouse that first opened in 1960 and was originally was called "Wild Bill's" until it got sold to George Lautz in 1966, who renamed it the Handlebar-J. Lautz and some buddies formed a country group, The Country Score, which was the Handlebar's house band for several years. They recorded at least two albums there sometime during the 'Seventies. Country Score included "Lonesome George" Lautz on vocals and guitar, along with Bob Love pickin' and singin', fiddler Ted Haff, and bass player Brick Herndon, who bought the bar from the Lautz family in 1975, and ran it with his wife Gwen. Their kids -- Ray, Rick, and Ron Herndon -- played together in rock and country bands as kids, and Ray Herndon went professional in the late '80s, touring with Lyle Lovett and as one of the original members of the 1990's top forty band, McBride & The Ride. Although Brick Herdon passed away in 1981, his wife Gwen Herndon (1924-2017) kept the restaurant open, and the Herndon Brothers played there on a regular basis, along with many other bands. On this old LP, Haff, Herndon, Lautz and Love cruise through a mix of old-fashioned western (cowboy) material, sentimental country classics and honkytonk tunes like Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" and George Jones' "White Lightning." They stuck to this formula on their followup record, which is also heavy on the cowboy tunes; unfortunately neither album includes a release date, although the mid-to-late '70s seems about right. (Thanks to Ray Herndon's website and to the Arizona Music Hall Of Fame for their background info, and for connecting some of the dots.)
The Country Score "More Country Score: Live At The Handlebar-J" (Handlebar-J Records, 197-?) (LP)
This second live album has the same lineup as above, and a similar mix of honkytonk, western swing and western oldies, including classics such as "Silver Bells" and "San Antone Rose," "Four Walls," "For The Good Times," "Cimmeron" and "Tumbleweeds." There's also one original, a tune called "Drifting Apart," which is credited to singer Bob Love. The back cover of the album is blank and neither the disc or the jacket includes a release date or any information about when the show was taped. Oddly enough, the front cover has the wrong track listing, showing the set list for their first album -- maybe they were just recycling some old copies?
(Denny Hilton's) Country Shindig Gang - see artist discography
The Country Sounds "The Country Sounds" (1976) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Sullivan)
A Texas-based country covers band made up of former members of Smokey Montgomery's band, including picker Howard Reed and steel player Tommy Bollinger, as well as a female vocalist only identified as "Mary Ann" and bassist Marc Jaco, who also worked as a session player on numerous indie recordings in the Dallas area. They apparently played as a house band for the Cowtown Jamboree, a live venue held in Forth Worth's Panther Hall. Montgomery backs them here on piano and banjo... As far as I can tell, these are all cover tunes, including some western swing and hillbilly oldies, as well as several instrumental showcase tunes such as "Pan Handle Rag" and "Orange Blossom Special."
The Country Squires "The Country Squires" (Sound Trax) (LP)
A sextet from Raleigh, North Carolina, mostly covering old-time folk, gospel and bluegrass standards... The group included included Al McConnell and Frank Avery, and covered classics such as "Orange Blossom Special," "I'm Using My Bible for a Roadmap" and "Uncle Pen."
The Country Squires & Betty Lee "Moods Of The Country Squires And Betty Lee" (Moon Records) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Richison)
There sure were a lot of bands called the Country Squires... These one was from Minneapolis, Minnesota, although they recorded in Nashville with session player Al Udeen on steel guitar. Bandleader Bob Richison wrote and arranged all their material, also playing keyboards and cordovox, while lead singer Betty Lee provided a little oomph in the front line... This was a curious group, something of a throwback to the eclectic world of 1940s radio and club acts -- Ms. Lee's vocals had a smooth, sultry ballads style reminiscent of old-school pop vocalists like Peggy Lee, while the guys generally handled more comedic material, such as the topical "Panty Hose," in which drummer Pudge Likes laments the popularity of newfangled pantyhose -- he prefers to ogle women wearing nylons or socks -- or "Burnett County Fair," where they make fun of their own "fame" and the kind of gigs that local bands headline, and "Put It Where The Sun Don't Shine." which is kind of self-explanatory. There are also a couple of gospel songs, including "Friendship" and "Brotherhood," which has an uber-sincere vibe that tilts it into the unintentionally hilarious. All in all, a fun country record, and unlike most that you'll hear.
The Country Squires & Hurricane Barb "The Very Best Of..." (Jimbo Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by J. D. Van Buskirk)
This was a later edition of the Country Squires band from Minneapolis, still led by songwriter and cordovox king Bob Richison, along with guitarist Lee Larsen and drummer Pudge Likes. However, the group's female vocalist Betty Lee has been replaced by a new gal named Barb Huber or, more colorfully, Hurricane Barb. At the time, they were playing gigs at a place called Archie's Bar And Lounge, located in Hopkins, Minnesota, which commissioned this album. The record features liner notes by Marvin Rainwater, who probably played a few gigs with them at some point. The album includes "The Interstate Is Coming Through My Outhouse" and a few medley tunes, including one called "Barb's Favorites." The song, "Love Is The Answer" which is included on this album was also released on one of the singles Barb Huber managed to record under her own name as well (though still featuring material written by Bob Richison.) The two singles I know of were "Rags Upon My Shoulders/Love Is The Answer To This World" and "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep"/"I'm Really Sorry," from 1978.
Country Sunshine "Now And Then" (1981-?) (LP)
(Produced by Brad Thrower & Roger Pirtle)
This early '80s offering comes from a band from Flint, Michigan, headed by songwriter Pat Levely who had a '60s gig as a staff writer for Buck Owens, and who penned Susan Raye's 1971 hit, "I've Got A Happy Heart." Levely recorded a couple of singles in the 'Sixties, but I think this was her only full album, made with a hometown band she formed in the late '70s. The group included Levely on keyboards and vocals, Marzine Yarbrough (vocals, drums), Bill Hill (guitar), Mike Back (bass) and Mike Kile (pedal steel) with a few licks added by producer-engineer Brad Thrower and a few other locals. She sings lead on most tracks, with a kind of Lynn Anderson-ish feel, while the guys add some robust though less professional-sounding vocals on several other songs. There are a couple of cover tunes, but a lot of original material credited to Levely and (I think) some friends that weren't in the band. The covers include Johnny Lee's 1980 hit, "Looking For Love," the Four Seasons oldie, "Sherry" and of course Dottie Lee's "Country Sunshine." Not the greatest indie country ever, but a good example of a local band aiming for a Top Forty sound, in the style of the urban cowboy era.
The Country Sunshine Band "Livin' And Lovin' " (Rome/Starr Records, 1981-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Casey)
A fairly shaggy-looking outfit from Delaware, Ohio (near Columbus...) They formed the band in 1970 and played local gigs throughout the state. I think this was their only album: they devoted Side One to original material by singers Dick Jackson, Tom Boggs and Larry Stidham, and Side Two to covers of outlaw artists such as Charlie Daniels, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson... They definitely had a major Waylon wannabee jones, which works well on several songs. Unfortunately, they were kind of democratically-minded, so they took turns singing lead vocals, and not all of the guys in the band were top-flight singers. Overall, though, this is good country bar-band material - they were authentic, and reasonably good. Rough around the edges, but worth a spin
The Country Three "The Country Three" (Louisiana Division Of The Arts, 1986) (LP)
(Produced by Patrick A. Flory)
The Country Traders "Tradin' A Little Country" (197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Patrick A. Flory)
This youthful quintet from Lipan, Texas (just west of Fort Worth) included brothers David and Jimmy Bass, drummer Alan Wimberly, lead guitarist Clyde Harwell and Steve Howard on rhythm guitar. They play a bunch of cover songs, including some stuff by Merle Haggard ("Branded Man," "Swinging Doors"), Waylon Jennings ("Just Pretend I Never Happened") and other oldies such as "Mental Revenge," "Six Days On The Road" and "The Race Is On." There's no date on the album, but judging from the fashion choices, hair length and song repertoire, I'd say this was recorded around 1974-75, though the only references to the band I could find online were show notices from 1976. I think these guys were all in high school when they cut this disc -- Alan Wimberly was a local basketball player, and went off to college in Memphis in '77, so I'm guessing that might have been the end of the band.
The Country Travelers "Loves A Comin' " (Nashville, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Rex Allen Jr., Curt Allen & Harold Lee)
The trio of singer Joe Holcomb, drummer Denny De Marco and lead guitarist Bill McCullough seem to have been protegees of '70s Top Forty star Rex Allen Jr., recording this album on an uber-indie Nashville vanity label, with Allen producing and contributing liner notes. It's nice stuff -- low-key, commercially oriented country-pop with simple arrangements and sparse, simple production which nonetheless nicely frames their vocal harmonies. Each of the three sings lead, including on their own original songs: Holcomb wrote three songs "Love's A Comin'," "Statues Without Hearts" and "Beautiful Morning" while De Marco adds "The Painter" and "Sleepless Nights." They also cover '70 standards such as "Fox On The Run," "Never Ending Love," and "White Line Fever," and close the album out with "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," perhaps in honor to their patron, Mr. Allen, who started out as a western singer like his dad. The best songs on here are Holcomb's trio of originals, which have a distinctly poppy sound, probably modeled on the Statler Brothers, as well as contemporaries like the Bellamy Brothers and the Oak Ridge Boys, who were going secular at the time. With bigger, more robust production (and a better band name) they could have made it as a solo act, but as it was they worked for several years as Allen's backup singers... If you like his soft-country sound, this album's worth tracking down.
The Country Travelers "...Sing For You" (Country Pride of Indiana) (LP)
This appears to be a different band with the same name, a quartet that included Phyllis Fisher, Leo Fisher, with Ben and June Kemp, who were from Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Country Troubadours "Live In The Far East" (B-A-B Records) (LP)
The Counts "Meet The Counts: Clay, Red & Joe" (Count Records) (LP)
A trio from New Hope, Minnesota who covered a lot of country stuff, but with unorthodox instrumentation... Joe Tishimack played lead on a Cordovox electric accordion, with drumming by Clayton Pickles and rhythm guitar by singer Red Johnson, who also contributed a couple of original songs, "I Took Your Memory For A Walk" and "Running Bare #2" (sic). The rest of the stuff is covers, including a Hank Williams medley, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky," "Louisiana Man," Green Green Grass Of Home" and the like. Not sure where they played, or if they were in any other bands... Anyone out there have more info?
Cal Courtney "Cal Courtney" (Gnome Records) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Jeup, Betty Jeup & Ron Truski)
A set of acoustic folk, pop and country covers, recorded in Detroit, Michigan with second guitar by Joe Kelly... Courtney may have been considered more of a folk musician: a few years later, circa 1981, a show listing in the Detroit Free Press described him as playing "Irish and contemporary songs."
Cousin Merle "True Country With Cousin Merle" (K-Ark Records, 1968-?) (LP)
An excellent album of bouyant, old-school country from Riceville, Iowa singer Merle Kessler, who was a regional star from the 1940s onward, first playing in a band led by Happy Jake (who nicknamed him "Cousin Merle") and then as the leader of his own band, the Maple Leaf Cowboys. Kessler and his brother Leonard led the Maple Leaf Cowboys throughout the 1940s, until Leonard left the band to concentrate on his farming, and Cousin Merle continued on as a "solo" act, including a gig on the radio in nearby Mason City. This album was recorded in Nashville in the 'Sixties, and while Kessler is a sometimes iffy singer, the backing band is rock-solid and the songs -- which seem to be all originals -- are uniformly great. Kessler had a high, thin voice, roughly comparable to Hank Locklin, and he mined a similar territory of heartsongs and weepers. It's good stuff! Too bad the liner notes don't say who was backing him on these sessions... alas!
The Cousin Wilbur Show "Recorded Live At Vandenburg Hall" (LP)
Comedian Wilbur Westbooks, aka Cousin Wilbur, was one of a dying breed of hillbilly performers who cut their teeth on the vaudeville-ish cornpone "barn dance" variety shows that faded away as the more streamlined Nashville business model took over modern country music. A veteran stage and radio performer, Westbooks rode the tide and in the 1950s hosted an early country-themed TV show -- a sort of Hee-Haw prototype -- while also running his own traveling road show. This album documents his live concerts, with a group that included singer Blondie Brooks, as well as Jim Webb on ShoBud steel, Bobby Braddock(!) on piano, and Dick Meis playing lead guitar. The show was recorded at Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, though I'm not sure what the date was... The LP looks to be from the early-to-mid 1960s. (More info about Cousin Wilbur can be found in his autobiography, Everybody's Cousin which is edifying, though long out of print...)
Dave Covert "Loving You" (American Sound) (LP)
This is a weird one... You wouldn't think it to look at the young, Gram Parsons-y guy on the cover that this would be such a baritone-fest of an album, but Dave Covert was definitely working in a schmaltz-friendly, post-Elvis country crooner mode, similar to Billy Crash Craddock, Narvel Felts and Charlie Rich. There was some more overt country twang on here as well, including a few novelty songs, but the core of this album is big, beefy ballads, albeit with a sometimes-shaky musical backing. (One question for you all out there: several tracks on the copy I have sound mis-mastered, like the azymuth or the playback speed was off... Anyone else hear the same thing? Or does my turntable just need a new drive belt?)
Cowboy "A Different Time: The Best Of Cowboy" (Polygram, 1993)
The group known as Cowboy was a showcase for session pickers Scott Boyer and Tommy Talton, who worked extensively with the Allman Brothers crew and other folks in the early Southern Rock scene... They're perhaps best known through Eric Clapton's cover of their sweet, yearning ballad, "Please Be With Me," although roots-rock connoisseurs might prefer the original version -- included here -- featuring sweet, lazy slide guitar from Duane Allman... As talented as the band was, though, fame remained elusive and their albums sold poorly and remain perennially out of print. This is partly due to the square-peg, round-hole quality of their work: the spacy whiteboy cosmic soul songs often had a sarcastic, dissolute edge, which along with Talton's airy Florida accent and choppsy superpicker vibe made them come off like an odd blend of Todd Rundgren and Tom Petty, and sometimes a little like a mean Jackson Browne after a four-day bender. I always found them hard to get into -- their albums seemed uneven and self-referential, but this excellent best-of retrospective cuts out a lot of the iffy stuff and paints a convincing picture of them as a country-rock band decades ahead of their time, particularly how their eclectic, uncommercial rock vibe anticipated genre-bending '90s twangbands such as Son Volt, Chuck Prophet or Wilco. Lots of cool, laid-back picking and unusual songwriting that may take more than a few listens to really be appreciated... A strong collection, well worth checking out.
Cowboy "Reach For The Sky" (Capricorn, 1970)
(Produced by Tommy Sandlin)
Cowboy "Five'll Getcha Ten" (Capricorn, 1971) (LP)
Cowboy "Why Quit When You're Losing?" (Capricorn, 1973) (LP)
Cowboy "Cowboy" (Capricorn, 1977) (LP)
Cowboy "Boyer & Talton: Reunion 2010" (Kid Glove, 2011)
The Cowboy "Album 1" (Dead Rabbit Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Rick Sutton)
Not to be confused with Tommy Talton's better-known band, "Cowboy" (listed above), these longhaired country-rockers were the houseband for a Durango, Colorado restaurant and bar called, appropriately enough, the Cowboy Bar-B-Que. They recorded at least three souvenir albums between 1976-81, with a core lineup that featured guitarist Phil Ceglia and brothers John and Jim Shields, who both played a wide variety instruments, notably pedal steel and piano. This first album is all cover songs, some of them from the more modern fringes of the '70s country-rock scene, such as "Luckenback, Texas" and "Glendale Train," along with more standard-issue C&W material (Hank Williams, etc.) and several bluegrass breakdowns. The band's chops and the production values are both pretty impressive for pretty high for this kind of private pressing album... Worth a spin!
The Cowboy "Album 2" (Dead Rabbit Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Rich Sutton, Alan Kirk & Tod Andrews)
This is probably the Cowboy band's most interesting record, with the musicians traveling to California to record a studio album that spotlights original material on more than half the tracks. The Shields brothers contribute most of the originals, and some of the strongest songs. Phil Ceglia pens one track, "Through The Eyes Of A Child," while rhythm guitarist Jim Stowell contributes a folk-tinged Western number, "Conchita." There are rough patches (particularly the rugged vocals of Betsy Clark, which are reminiscent of some female vocals on the early Asleep At The Wheel albums...) and nice mix of mellow country-rock and zippy bluegrass such as "Fox On The Run." Overall, though, this is a pretty strong effort, showing the Cowboys (as they called themselves) to be a competent, capable band, and though they probably hoped this set of original music might propel them to bigger and better things, as souvenir albums go, this one makes a nice legacy.
The Cowboy "Live" (Dead Rabbit Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Richard Simpson & Jim Takeda)
Somewhere between albums, the Shields brothers left the band, as did the impulse to write new material... This live album is strictly made up of cover tunes, with Phil Ceglia anchoring the band for one last time. California's heavy gravity tugged at him as well: after recording part of Album 2 in Atascadero, CA, Ceglia migrated there and moved out of the music business. But these guys seemed like they were probably a pretty fun, hot band, back in their day.
Cowboy Bob "On Stage With The Burris Family" (Keene Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Robert Glaze & R. Burris; Bill Schuler, engineer)
A set of country covers by Indianapolis TV personality Bob Glaze, who played the character Cowboy Bob (aka"The Ham On The Range") while hosting the Chuckwagon Theater, an after-school cartoon show on station WTTV-4. Glaze started the show in 1970, and kept at it until 1989, along with his canine companion Tumbleweed... He's backed here by the Burris Family Band -- Glaze sings and plays rhythm guitar, along with Bob McNabb on drums, D. D. Sheets (bass), Joey Burris (electric guitar) and Buzz Keene (lead guitar). Most of the songs are covers of standards by Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, and the like, though they also cover a Linda Hargrove song, "Let It Shine" and one track, "Sing Me A Sad Song," is credited to Kim Burris Sheets, who I think was married to the bassist. Previously, Glaze recorded a 1968 Christmas album along with another WTTV host, Janie Hodge, whose show he worked on before creating his own Cowboy Bob program.
Mike Cowdery & Marvin Rainwater "Country Music Is Alive And Well North Of The Mason Dixon Line" (Hoky Records, 1981) (LP)
A curious album with songs mostly written by Minnesotan Mike Cowdery, though half the album is sung by veteran country music star Marvin Rainwater, whose career was revived in the '70s by the European rockabilly scene... Many of the songs are about places in or near the Great Lakes region... Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Manitoba, Ontario and the Dakotas... There are also a couple of oldies written by Rainwater, including a new version of his big hit, "Gonna Find Me A Bluebird." Anyone know more about this Cowdery fella? Apparently he came from Lakeview, Minnesota...?
Billy Cox "The Dixie Songbird" (Kanawha Records, 1967) (LP)
Charleston, West Virginia's old-timey troubadour Billy Cox (1897-1968) was a hillbilly radio performer whose style (and career) harkened back to the pre-honkytonk era of the Great Depression. Cox began singing professionally in 1928, and he worked on a variety of regional radio stations, including WOBU, Charleston. The front cover of this album features two photos of Mr. Cox: first, he's pictured in 1940 at the microphone of AM station WSEN, although this photo may be from near the end of his music career -- apparently he lost his mojo during the Depression, and retired from show business, later drifting from one job to another. The other photo is of a taciturn Mr. Cox in 1966, after he had been rediscovered by folkie musicologists and brought into the studio for these stripped-down sessions, which feature Mr. Cox accompanied only by harmonica and acoustic guitar. He'd been down on his luck for years, and living in poverty at the time, passing away in 1968, the year after this LP came out. It's a nice set of rugged, unpretentious recordings that echo the primitive twang of the 1920s and '30s, with humorous ditties about nagging women and alimony, boozing and prohibition, and even a few politically-themed songs, including a couple sung in praise of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who helped lift the country out of economic ruin during the prewar era. Billy Cox was credited with writing about 150 songs, including many that were reworkings of traditional or public domain themes. He's perhaps best known for popularizing the song "Filipino Baby," a tune that dates back to the Spanish-American War, but was revived as a WWII hit for honkytonkers such as Cowboy Copas and Ernest Tubb. (Although Billy Cox is sometimes cited online as a co-author with publisher Harry Von Tilzer, the original version was by C. V. Clark, with Von Tilzer's company giving Cox co-credit for the more modern version...) "Filipino Baby" is included here, along with other rough-cut gems such as "Alimony Woman," "Wino's Last Prayer," "The Jailer's Daughter" and "Rolling Pin Woman." Modern-day listeners may find this style too musically remote, but aficianados of chunky, declarative, old-timey music will find a wealth of history and authenticity in this disc.
Don Cox "The Crazy Gringo" (CMR, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Hoyt Henry)
Texas-born country singer Don Cox (1934-2012) was a longtime fixture on the San Jose, California country scene, both as a performer and as a nightclub owner. He ran two venues, the Cowtown and the Three Flames restaurant, where he continued his residency for many years, and performed his last show in 2011, at the ripe old age of 76. This first album includes his single, "The Crazy Gringo," which was a regional hit, although most of the other songs are covers of country hits such as "Statue Of A Fool," "Crazy Arms," and "Before The Next Teardrop Falls."
Don Cox "On The Line" (ARC, 1979) (LP)
This album includes the song, "Smooth Southern Highway," which cracked the Billboard Top 100 (peaking at #94...)
Slim Coxx & The Cowboy Caravan "Lake Compounce Proudly Presents..." (Coxx Records)
One of several souvenir/vanity albums by classic country bandleader Slim Coxx, a Connecticut cowboy who was once in a regionally famous band called the Down Homers, circa late 1940s, '50s. I think in his later days Coxx led a family band that played at New England resorts and country fairs. This album seems to be from the 1960s or early '70s and is all cover tunes, with some pretty interesting selections. Not sure how many other records he made, though he did play on other artists; albums as well...
Tommy Crank "Sings Bluegrass Mountain Gospel" (Pine Tree Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Hensley)
Rough-edged, deeply authentic bluegrass music with a truly striking, distinctive sound. Trenton, Ohio's Tommy Crank wrote all the songs on this album, with several co-written by Carl Kinder, and one with Syndia Norvell. He's got an all-local band as well: Bruce Andrew and Bill Lyon on banjo, Ray Hall (fiddle), Bob McNeely (flattop guitar) and Eugene Turner (bass), Reggie Wallace (dobro), and Chuck Walton on mandolin. They provide solid, lively, true-twang backup in the high lonesome style of Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys, while emphatic, unruly Crank's vocals are feral and foreboding -- the bluegrass equivalent, perhaps, of Howlin' Wolf or Hasil Adkins. Crank's raspy, explosive delivery is really quite striking, a remnant of mountain music's primeval past, or the Alfred Karnes school of white gospel singing, bristling with a rock'n'roll-ish restlessness. Certainly worth a spin if you've ever thought, oh, all modern bluegrass sounds the same, all slick and melodic...
Tommy Crank "Best Bluegrass Gospel" (Pine Tree Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Tommy Crank & William M. Jones)
Where his first album was all originals, this one is mostly cover songs. It includes an original by Hattie Crank, "Weighed In The Balance," along with songs from the Carter Family, George Jones and Bill Monroe... He's working with a completely different band this time: The Gospel Mountaineers included Vernon Bowling (mandolin), Ernest Wells (banjo), Ralph Murphy (fiddle), Alvin Ison (dobro), Jeff Morgan (bass), and Joe Isaacs (from the Isaacs family gospel band) on flattop guitar, with Lily Isaacs adding some harmony vocals.
The Crawdads "Recorded Live At Billy Bob's" (Mud-Bug Records, 19--) (LP)
Crazy Ed "Live From Crazy Ed's" (Chaton Records, 1973-?) (LP)
A souvenir album from "Crazy Ed" Chilleen, a legendary character from Arizona who ran a string of colorfully-named restaurants across the state, starting in the early 1960s with the original Crazy Ed's, and also including venues such as The Horny Toad and the Satisfied Frog. This is a mega-indie "private" album, with a plain white, no-art jacket and a "Crazy Ed For Governor" sticker attached on the front... The repertoire is a mix of country songs, pop-vocals oldies and Dixieland tunes, reflecting the perky music played at his clubs. There's no info about the musicians, or a release date on the record, though I'm gonna shoot for 1973, since it includes a version of Steve Goodman's "City Of New Orleans," which was a hit for Arlo Guthrie in '72. Maybe sometime if I work up the nerve, I'll contact Mr. Chilleen and ask him if he remembers anything about making this disc. It could be a long conversation!
Dale Crider & Linda Bittner "Natural Cycles" (Anhinga Music, 1978) (LP)
This might not be very country, but it sure is "Seventies"! A set of environmental folk songs about the Florida Everglades, with titles like "Stainless Steel Palm Trees," "A Swamp Is A Natural Systems Machine" and "Sea Oats" -- there's some dobro and fiddle in the mix, but this is more of a political folkie album, one of several that Crider recorded...
The Cripple Creek Band "Introducing The Cripple Creek Band" (Cripple Creek Records) (LP)
(Produced by Al Clauser)
Not to be confused with the more modern band by the same name, these guys from Collinsville, Oklahoma were seasoned road warriors, including several veterans of Rodney Lay's band, the Blazers, who had side gigs touring with national stars such as Wanda Jackson and Jerry Lee Lewis in the early 1960s. Rodney Lay led Freddy Fender's backing band in 1975-76, and then went on to work for Roy Clark -- I think these guys were the ones who stuck with Fender after that, with former Blazers guitarists Sam Beck and Dennis Winton now fronting a group that also included local players such as Robert Hoffman, Rick De Armond and steel player Billy Hogue. Freddy Fender contributes liner notes, praising the band's "funkiest, straight from the dirt floor sound," and on this album they get their moment in the sun, playing some outlaw-y stuff like "Good Hearted Woman" and Merle Haggard's "Ramblin' Fever," as well as a tune or two of their own.
Terry Crisp "Burnt To A Crisp" (Gene Breeden Studios) (LP)
Steel player Terry Crisp was still pretty young when he cut this uber-indie album, but working his way up into the Nashville elite -- later on he would do session work with mega-stars such as George Jones, Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs and Travis Tritt. Here, he gets his own instrumental showcase album, with stuff like "Kitten On The Bar" (his own take on the classic "Kitten On The Keys") "Orange Blossom Special," a Buddy Emmons tune ("At Ease") and a twangified version of the Jimi Hendrix adaptation of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." Not sure when this came out -- early '80s, perhaps?
Bobby Crocker "E.T.A. Now" (Raven Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Perry Jones)
Indie twang from Rio Linda, California, near Sacramento... This is an earnest attempt at contemporary, early '80s style, Top Forty country, complete with tepid overtones of classic 'Fifties rock and fairly bland production... Joe Stampley, Conway Twitty and/or the Oak Ridge Boys come to mind... Although Crocker found distribution through the Nashville-based NSD company, this was an all-locals, Northern California product, recorded in Sacramento with local musicians. Honestly, it's not my cup of tea, though there are a few songs that sound a little more rootsy than the others... Notably, the disc is packed with original material: Bobby Crocker wrote over half the tracks, with producer Perry Jones penning several more, and guitarist Mark Welborn contributing "Goodbye Lady Goodbye," a pedal-steel drenched twangtune that's the album's main highlight. Worth a spin, though it's really more of a commercially-oriented album, rather than an indie-twang nugget.
Mickey Crocker "Hard Time Life" (Deltron Records, 1979-?) (LP)
(Produced by Arthur Thomas)
Rangy outlaw country and roots rock from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Shaggy-looking singer Mickey Crocker was a contemporary of Leon Russell and JJ Cale, a bandleader and longtime figure on the Tulsa scene who owned a nightclub called Mickey's Country Darlin', where the house band, Oklahoma Thunder, backed him in the late-'70s. Blues guitarist Warren Haynes was in one of Crocker's bands at one point, along with piano player Rocky Frisco, who was known for his long tenure with JJ Cale. Crocker fell out of sight in the 1980s, following a conviction on a big drug bust in 1984: he was apparently on the bottom rung of a local cocaine ring, and got a two-and-a-half year sentence. Crocker dropped out of the music world and is said to have moved to Kansas (I think his family was from around Coffeyville) and though I'm not 100% sure, I think he passed away in 2002... As far as I know, this was his only album, though he also recorded a single in '78, and the Oklahoma Thunder band released at least one album of its own. They may have been backing him here, though no musicians are credited in the liner notes...
The Dick Crockett Band "Just For You" (D. C. Productions, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Dick Crockett)
Gary Cross "Minnesota Lights" (197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Brian St. Louis & Lee St. Louis)
Gary Cross & The Cedar Creek Band "That's Country Music" (Homestead Records, 1982-?) (LP)
(Produced by Brian St. Louis & Lee St. Louis)
Mike Cross "Born In The Country" (Ghe, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Gronback)
Mike Cross "Rock 'N' Rye" (Ghe Records, ) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Burgh)
An uneven album that kicks off with a couple of fun country tunes, "Rocky Top Bar & Cafe" and "Not A Good Woman To Love," then veers into pop/folk crossover, with disasterous results. A couple of songs, such as the acoustic reggae tune, "The Groove," and a bland soft-rock song, "Start Drawing The Lines," are just plain dreadful, and in general his attempts at Harry Chapin-esque folk/AOR philosophizing are kind of a drag. Things pick up on Side Two, though, with the uptempo title track and its echo, a version of "Whiskey Before Breakfast," as well as the Leo Kottke-ish "Carrboro Crossing." The album closes with another sentimental-poetic folk-pop number, Mike Williams' "Catch Another Butterfly," which is a nostalgic look back at childhood's simple pleasures, and works better than similar material on Side One. A mixed bag, but the good stuff is kinda fun... Worth a spin, for sure. Backing musicians include blugrasser Jesse McReynolds on mandolin, studio pro Weldon Myrick on dobro and steel, and even Irish folkie Triona ni Dhomhnaill pitching in on a tune or two(!)
Crossfyre "Crossfyre" (1985) (LP)
(Produced by Bobby Thomas & Crossfyre)
A country-rock band from Illinois, led by songwriter Wayne Douglas, with pedal steel by Rich Koc, banjo by Bobby Thomas and fiddlin' from John Frigo... These guys were pretty good, although the album skips around from style to style and while the old-school outlaw material and novelty twang are nice and straightforward, there are several would-be Top Forty country ballads that fall flat. The band seems to have wanted to break into the bigtime, it wasn't really gonna happen, and the more down-to-earth, low-rent material is a lot more fun. Songs like "Last Call" and "Jukebox Memories" are worth a spin, and though a little clunky in the delivery, there's a nice Moe & Joe-ish novelty number called "Husbands In Law," which is about two guys who were divorced by the same woman who now they both have to take care of the kids while she goes off with her new boyfriend. Kinda weird, but memorable. Anyway, these guys were okay... definitely worth checking out!.
Jill Croston "Jill Croston" (Harbor, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Nelson)
The independently-released debut of the artist who would become known as Lacy J Dalton. This album was a regional favorite in Santa Cruz, California, and shows Dalton's folkie/bluesy, Janis Joplinesque roots... The record has a comfy, informal, down-home vibe that reflects the hippie-billy vibe of the time... But her voice is so powerful -- a bluesy blast that pushes up against the sweet acoustic backing -- that in retrospect it's clear that she was destined for something bigger, bolder and more robust. And why begrudge her her successes? For every ten thousand earnest, striving, coffeehouse/open mic singers, there's one Lacy J. that'll make it to the top, and I'm sure the folks who remember her from 'way back when still have their copies of this disc tucked away somewhere and think fondly of her success. Anyway, here's where she started -- it was 0 to 60 after that.
R. W. Crouch & The Bum Steers "If You Divorce Me Baby, Who'll Get The Truck?" (D Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Schuler)
Alvin Crow -- see artist profile
J.D. Crowe And The New South "My Home Ain't In The Hall Of Fame" (Rounder, 1979)
An alumnus of one of the early '60s top bluegrass bands, Kentucky-born banjo player Crowe set out in the '70s as a newgrass traditionalist, skirting the border between bluegrass and country in much the same way as his mentor, Jimmy Martin. This is my favorite of the New South albums (though the rest are all good, too)... It features a gorgeous version of the title track, Jonathan Edward's classic alterna-country anthem, as well as upbeat versions of "Gone, Gone, Gone" and "My Window Faces The South." The band also included fiddler Bobby Sloane, bluegrass whizkid, Jimmy Gaudreau, and the late Keith Whitley (who went on to briefly become a Nashville Top 40 guy). Lots of fun, and highly recommended.
Rodney Crowell -- see artist profile
Ernie Cruz "Recorded Live On The Big Island" (Big Island Records) (LP)
(Produced by Chip Douglas Hateleid)
Hawaiian songwriter Ernie Cruz, Sr. was nicknamed "the Waimea Cowboy," and was the father of several notable musicians. This album features country-pop with a Hawaiian tinge, mostly cover tunes with songs by Kris Kristofferson, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, along with a couple of Hawaiian-language songs to round the album out. There are some originals including "Molokai Cowboys," "Green Rolling Hills Of California" (by Cruz) and Hawaiian-themed songs such as "Nanakuli" by Jesse Kalima and "Kamakani Ka Ila Aloha" by Matthew Kane... In the 1990s, Cruz's son -- Ernie Cruz, Jr -- formed a Hawaiian pop band called the Ka-au Crater Boys.
The Crystal River Band "Top Of The Mountain" (Jetisson Records) (LP)
(Produced by Fred Martin & Larry Prater)
This casually conceived, sometimes clumsy acoustic album was tailormade for folks who cherish weird old records for obscurity alone... Now, these guys weren't bad by any means, but they weren't really top-flight pickers or singers either. I suspect this disc was simply a souvenir of a summer that a few buddies spent smoking pot and picking out tunes by campfires in the Rocky Mountain nights, although it's possible they played at some Colorado coffeehouses or clubs. It's not really a hidden gem or anything, but it is an authentic record of their particular moment in time, kind of like one of those self-made home singles people recorded in the '40s and '50s, in the era before magnetic tape hit the market. There are a few cover songs -- "Ghost Riders In The Sky," Ian Tyson's "Summer Wages," Doc Watson's "Deep River Blues" -- and some bluegrass breakdowns (though their limitations really come out on these instrumental tunes) It's exactly the sort of stuff you'd expect mellow '70s dudes with guitars to strum along to at a barbeque party or whatever. There are also a fair number of original tunes by mandolin picker Russ Reuger, also in a raggedly folkie vein. Anyway, this is a real record made by real people... sort of a audio polaroid, if you catch my drift. My copy doesn't have real album art - the front and back are xeroxed sheets glued to a plain white cardboard jacket, which is in keeping with the music within.
Carol Cuff "Time" (Accent Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Scott Seely & Nick Mandola)
I think songwriter Carol Cuff was from the Pacific Northwest, although this early '80s album was recorded in California and gives no information on her whereabouts at the time. At any rate, back in the 1970s, a few of Cuff's songs turned up on albums by artists in Washington state, which is why I think she was from around there. And they are well-crafted songs... The trouble with this album, though, is that while she was a good tunesmith, Ms. Cuff was not the world's greatest singer -- indeed, she had trouble keeping in tune most of the time, which may be one reason that she didn't make a record of her own until she'd been on the scene for over a decade. It's a pity, too, because there really are some good songs on here, notably the country weeper "It Really Doesn't Matter," though sometimes it's hard to tell because the musical flubs can be distracting. The liner notes are entirely devoted to her lyrics, with no info about who was in the studio band... And their performences are a mixed bag as well -- sometimes they're pretty solid (particularly the pedal steel) though much of the time they seem to be just going through the motions, if not playing fairly broadly in a half-joking manner. On the whole, though, this is a credible and heartfelt effort by a true amateur -- Ms. Cuff was definitely dedicated to her music and had a feel for old-fashioned country heartsongs. I'd be hard pressed to really recommend this record, but I still admire the spirit in which it was made.
Cullowhee "One More Song" (Cullowhee Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Cullowhee)
A rootsy rock band from Blowing Rock, North Carolina, with songs that include "Bayou Woman," "Ganga" and "When You're Happy," which sort of gives you an idea of where these guys were coming from.
Rick Cunha "Cunha: Songs" (GRC, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Ken Mansfield)
The solo debut of country-rock guitarist-songwriter Rick Cunha, who moved from the psychedelic folk-rock band Hearts & Flowers into a career as a session picker in the LA music scene. Although he grew up in Southern California, Cunha also had family roots in Hawaii and in Hawaiian music, being the grandson of Sonny Cunha, a popular composer known for penning several classic hapa haole pop songs in the early 1900s. Cunha lived in Hawaii at various times in his life, and the mellow, relaxed vibe of island music and slack key guitar is hinted at in some of these songs, particularly the loftier, spacier rock ballads; there are also some plunky twang tunes, including a fine cover of the old Hank Thompson hit, "Wild Side Of Life," as well as the more novelty-oriented "Jesse James (Is An Outlaw Honey)" and the more conventional "Mr. Lonesome (Party Of One)," a Cunha original which could easily have been a '60s country hit. Waylon Jennings, who Cunha backed on a few sessions, sings harmony on "Chain Of Lonely People," a windswept, eleven-minute cosmic folk epic that closes the record... Gary and Randy Scruggs, Weldon Myrick, the Cates Sisters and a slew of LA and Nashville musicians are also in the studio crew. A nice, mellow album that doesn't have a lot of "catchy" tunes, but holds up well to attentive listening.
Rick Cunha "Moving Pictures" (CBS-Sierra Briar, 1980) (LP)
Jim Cunningham "Songs For Lovin' Cheatin' And Truckin' On" (Ripcord Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden & Blaine Allen)
Truitt Cunningham "To Each His Own" (Thanks Records, 1970-?) (LP)
A country stalwart from Northern California, Truitt Cunningham (1930-2014) was a western swing bandleader and TV show host who performed throughout the Central Valley and Northern California. As a teenager he was recruited by Bob Wills in the early 1950s to play in the California edition of the Texas Playboys, and later worked with Billy Jack Wills band before starting his own group, the San Antone Rose Band. Born in Texas but raised in Modesto, California, Cunningham hosted a local TV in Sacramento where he fostered the career of Lynn Anderson in the mid-1960s. Cunningham's day job was as a land surveyor, but he led his band for years, recording several albums and taking part in various western swing revival shows. This album is packed with original material, with about half the songs written by Cunningham, and covers of oldies like Hoagy Carmichael's "Up A Lazy River" and Floyd Tillman's "Slippin' Around." A nice slice of old-school California country!
Truitt Cunningham "...Sings With The Red Garter Trio" (Thanks Records) (LP)
This disc was a souvenir of Cunningham's stint working as the house band for the Red Garter Club in Folsom, California. The trio was rounded out by steel player Jody McCauley and rhythm guitarist Duke Brown... The trio also had a regular show on radio station KRAK, and performed live on KXTV, Sacramento. The liner notes are provided by country deejay Walter Shaw (aka Cousin Walt) who was also the emcee of their KRAK radio program.
Truitt Cunningham "...And His Western Swing Hall Of Fame -- Live" (CD)
A later recording, made with some former members of the Texas Playboys...
Clint Curtiss & The Clintsmen "Nobody's Foolin' Me" (Dominion Records) (LP)
(Produced by Jury Krytiuk)
A singer from Toronto, Canada... This is mostly cover tunes, with a perceptible Bakersfield bent -- stuff by Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and Tommy Collins -- as well as some Canadian regional pride from songwriter Roy Payne. There are also two originals by Clint Curtiss: the title track, "Nobody's Foolin' Me" and "Stand By Me Your Man," a rather awkwardly phrased answer to the Tammy Wynette hit, "Stand By Your Man." The band included lead guitar and steel player Peter James, Bruce Easter on bass, and Mike Shane playing drums.
Dick Curtis "Well, Now..." (Dick Curtis Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Gilmore & Randy Sharp)
A country comedy album featuring "Trooper" Dick Curtis, an actor who became a regional celebrity up in Oregon when he starred in a series of TV ads sponsored by Blitz Weinhard beer, in which Curtis the state trooper stops a big truck full of out-of-state Schludwiller booze and tells them to turn them wheels around, we don't need any of that foreign stuff here... The ads played on the cheerful proto-isolationism of Oregonians in the '70s and '80s, which was particularly aimed at Californiacators coming up from the South. This is an odd album. Spinning the momentum of his celebrity into a music/comedy career, Curtis enlisted the aid of country-AOR writer/composer Randy Sharp, who wrote over half the songs on this album and presumably plays on it, too, as well as producing the sessions. Curtis is, in all honesty, a pretty awkward, ungainly vocalist, but he reminds me of other humorous singers with iffy voices, such as Don Bowman and Dick Feller, and the songs are generally fairly funny, certainly better than most of Bowman's stuff, which can be pretty blunt at times. Curtis mines similar territory, though, with songs complaining about automated vending machines, deadbeat ex-husbands and the like, but Randy Sharp and Doug Gilmore provide lively arrangements, and Curtis really gets into his performances, recitations and all. I wouldn't recommend this album for everybody, but folks who get into this style of cornpone humor -- as well as pro-Oregonian, regional pride webfoot types -- might get a real kick out of it.
Gary Curtis "Mackinaw Valley Boy" (GDS, 1979) (LP)
C. W. & Company "Saturday Night Live At The Wickenburg Inn" (The Wickenburg Inn, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Tim Ramsey)
I'm not very into making fun of bad records, but I gotta be honest about this one... This is not a very good record. A souvenir of the Wickenburg Inn, a now-defunct dude ranch in Arizona, this features a quartet of two gals and two guys, singing a potpourri of novelty songs, country hits and oldies. The first thing you'll notice, pretty much the moment the needle hits the vinyl, is that there's only one of these four people who can stay in tune. So, their vocal harmonies leave something to be desired. Overall, the feel of this album is pretty low-energy, as in, "why bother trying hard?" and it feels like it has more in common with talent show albums than with most dude ranch records. But if you're into so-bad-it's-good kitsch, this record might offer a few giggles, notably their versions of "Okie From Muskogee," "Me And Bobby McGee" and "Redneck Mother." Also, I like the back cover photo of one of the gals goosing C.W. while they stand up on stage. Hee hee hee.
The C-Weed Band "The Finest You Can Buy" (Hawk Records, 1980) (LP)
This country-oriented Canadian jam-band from Winnipeg was led by singer Errol Ranville, who played in garage bands since the early 1960s, and finally struck gold with his chart-topping 1980 hit version of Robbie Robertson's "Evangeline," which established him as a bona fide country star. A Native American, Ranville also became a prominent first nations activist. In 2010, after decades of touring and recording, Ranville survived a horrific car crash which killed his wife... He recuperated and returned to the studio -- Ranville and The C-Weed Band have made about twenty albums, racking up numerous hits in Canada's Aboriginal and Country music charts.
The C-Weed Band "High & Dry" (Hawk Records, 1982) (LP)
The C-Weed Band "Going The Distance" (Hawk Records, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Craig Fotheringham & Errol Ranville)
Frank Cain Czaki "Frank Cain Czaki" (C & G Productions, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Kearney & Frank A. Czaki)
Not sure how country this is, overall... There are some country covers, such as Hank Williams' "Jambalaya," but also pop covers like "Under The Boardwalk," as well as several Czaki originals. This album was recorded in New Orleans, though Czaki seems to have been from St. Petersburg Beach, Florida... Unfortunately none of the musicians are listed on the album art, so I don't know who was backing him.
Hick Music Index