Tony Wilkinson Reviews

'The Master Of Melancholy'
Total Playing Time 71.23 minutes         No. of Tracks: 26         Booklet Pages: 8
My San Antonio Mama/Bluer Than Blue/We'll Never Say Goodbye/Only A Rose From My Mother's Grave/Marriage Vow/I'm Moving On/The Golden Rocket/Down The Trail Of Achin' Hearts/Married By The Bible, Divorced By The Law/There's A Fool Such As I/. Don't Hurt Anymore/Let Me Go Lover/Yellow Roses/That Pioneer Mother Of Mine/I'm Glad To See You Once Again/These Hands/Conscience, I'm Guilty/Tangled Mind/Letter Edged In Black/Put My Little Shoes Away/Big Wheels/The Last Ride/Miller's Cave/Somewhere Along Life's Highway/I Cried But My Tears Were Too Late/I'm Gonna Bid My Blues Goodbye.

'The Hillbilly Party Band'
Total Playing Time 66.51 minutes         No. of Tracks: 27         Booklet Pages: 8
Midnight Train/Milk Cow Blues/Move It On Over/New Mule Skinner Blues/Honky Tonkin'/Sally Let Your Bangs Hang Down/You've Been Talking In Your Sleep/Dark As The Dungeon/New Step It Up And Go/Rock All Our Babies To Sleep/I'll Fly Away/Shimmy Shakin' Daddy/I Wish Was A Single Girl Again/Hangover Blues/Farther Along/Kiss Me Quick And Go/Wild Wild Young Men/False Hearted/Hey Little Dreamboat/The Death Of Rock 'n' Roll/Ugly And Slouchy/Love Is Strange/Gotta Travel On/Tramp On The Street/Dust On The Bible/Kissing My Pillow/Down Down Down

'Lonesome Singer Songwriter With Rockabilly Flair'
Total Playing Time 64.44 minutes         No. of Tracks: 27         Booklet Pages: 8
Red Lips, White Lies And Blue Hours/A Blue Million Tears/Sample Kisses/You Cast Me Out/Run Boy/Sweet Dreams/I Believed In You/Sittin' Here Cryin'/Oh Lonesome Me/Heartbreak Avenue/Too Soon To Know/Blues IN My Heart/I Can't Stop Loving You/Blue, Blue Day/Give Myself A Party/Look Who's Blue/My Hands Are Tied/The Streets Of Laredo/Don't Tell Me Your Troubles/I'm Movin' On/Big Hearted me/Just One Time/A Legend In My Time/Far, Far Away

Here are three releases on the complete Country label, a division of Snapper Music. I believe that they are all mid-priced and each has over an hour's playing time. These three acts can all fall under the category of prototype rockabilly, perhaps The Maddox Brothers & Rose plus Don Gibson more so than Hank Snow. But Hank recorded some classic numbers such as 'I'm Moving On' (listed as being track six but on my copy this was in fact an up-tempo fiddle lead instrumental) which has graced us with many fine rockabilly versions. Other examples of primal rockabilly included on this set are 'The Golden Rocket' and 'Tangled Mind'. It is also fascinating to hear the country raw treatments of 'It Don't Hurt Anymore' and 'A Fool Such As I', the last mentioned song is that which Elvis subsequently turned into a massive hit, albeit somewhat more rocked up. In keeping with 'The Master Of Melancholy' title of this compilation, there are plenty of excellently performed country weepers included.

The Maddox Brothers and Rose were one of the leading Hillbilly show bands complete with flashy outfits and not afraid to take risks. Many of the songs included on this particular CD are up-tempo hillbilly numbers which are clearly signposting the road to rockabilly. Indeed, some loose all vestige of the hillbilly roots and are splendid examples of full in your face rock 'n' roll. The marvelous 'Hey Little Dreamboat' and Wild Wild Young Men' easily fall into this category and are worth getting the CD for but we also have a tasty takes on Mickey & Sylvia's 'Love Is Strange' and Billy Grammer's 'Gotta Travel On'. I never have been able to understand why 'The Death Of Rock 'n' Roll' is so titled as it bops away like crazy and in fact id the oft recorded 'I Got A Woman'.

Saving the best for last, Don Gibson can do little wrong in my estimation. Whether it is a, excellent mournful treatment of the cowboy song 'Streets Of Laredo' or the country tinged rock 'n' roll of 'My Hands Are Tied' (one of the more obscure Gibson recordings but unjustifiably so), this guy is the real deal and has talent by the bucket load. He also recorded the originals of some classic ballads such as 'Sweet Dreams' turned into a hit by Tommy McLain and also Patsy Cline, 'I Can't Stop Loving You - a monster record by Ray Charles and 'Too Soon To Know' which became famous in the version by Roy Orbison. This compilation has many superb Gibson recordings like the rockin' 'Blue Blue Day', 'Don't Tell Me Your Troubles' and 'Just One Time'. This release is for all who have a liking for rockin' music with a country tinge.

Tony Wilkinson
November 2011