Hi, there! This page is part of an opinionated guide to what I call "hard country" music -- the real stuff -- with a bunch of record reviews and recommendations by me, Joe Sixpack. Naturally, it's a work in progress, and will hopefully be expanded on quite a bit, as time allows.


This is the first page covering the letter "V"




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Leroy Van Dyke - see artist discography


Mack Vickery "Live At The Alabama Women's Prison" (Bear Family, 1970/2008)
A gender-flipped send-up of the fabled Johnny Cash prison concert albums: the cover art shows Vickery striding in front of a cell full of love-starved female convicts. Pretty goofy, but there is some great music on here. Mack Vickery was a successful songwriter with a background in the same Sun Records scene that brought fame to Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, and went on to pen hits for '70s outlaws and '80s neo-trads alike. Vickery wasn't much of an album artist, though he did also release a string of singles, some of which charted, though obviously most of his success came through the versions cut by his better-known buddies.


Mack Vickery "Greatest Hits, Volume One" (Bear Family, 1970/2008)
Wondering which hits Mack Vickery wrote? This disc includes a few that might turn your head: "I'm The Only Hell My Momma Ever Raised," which was a big one for Tanya Tucker, the Jerry Lee Lewis anthem, "Rockin' My Life Away" (and his more notorious, less radio-friendly "Meat Man") and "Cedar Town Georgia," a murder ballad Vickery co-wrote with Sammi Smith which was a minor hit for Waylon Jennings. There are also songs like "Brass Buckles" and "A Cardboard Pillow," as well as "Honky Tonk Wine," which was one of Mickey Gilley's best songs of the '70s. Vickery may have only had middling success as a chart artist, but as a songwriter, he really kicked some butt.


Howard Vokes "Songs Of Tragedy And Disaster" (Starday, 2000)
A wide-ranging collection of classic weepers, many of them drawn from the back-catalogs of other, older artists. Train wrecks, dying children, doomed lovers, mining accidents, ship wrecks, and dogs like Old Shep who die saving their masters. This is not a dazzling set -- Vokes is a very limited singer, and the studio musicians give uniformly indifferent performances -- but for fans of the tragedy ballad genre, this is a pretty rich wellspring of material. This album draws on various Starday albums, and some tracks are earthier than others, including a few duets which have a little more texture and depth.


Howard Vokes "Sadness And Happiness In Country And Gospel Songs" (Vokes)





Real Hick Music -- The Letter "W"




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