My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: ‘Here’s Loretta Lynn’

lorettaHere’s Loretta Lynn appeared in April 1968 on the Vocalion label, one of two budget labels Decca used at the time for either reissuing older material or releasing recordings acquired from buying out another label’s inventory of recordings for artists currently recording for Decca. In this case, the recordings came from the small Zero label. The songs were recorded in 1959 or 1960. It appears that Loretta recorded a dozen songs for Zero, but this album gathers up only ten of the songs, conspicuously omitting both sides of her one charting single for Zero, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” backed with “Whispering Sea”.

None of the songs on this album charted although Zero released both “New Rainbow” and “Darkest Day” as singles. Interestingly enough, rather than hedge their bets with covers, Zero allowed Loretta to record strictly her own compositions.

The album opens with “Blue Steel”, a ballad about being as blue as the sound that a steel guitar makes. This song shows an unmistakable Kitty Wells influence as do most of her vocals on the album.

The album is mostly slow and mid-tempo ballads the exceptions being track 5 & 9 (“Stop” and “My Life Story”) , which pick up the tempo, and track 6 (“Heartaches Meet Mr. Blues”) which has much more of an R&B feel to it with some B.B. King-like guitar licks.

The backing could be described as standard non-Nashville Sound country, meaning fiddle, steel guitar and lead guitar being the dominant sounds – no strings or vocal choruses, but also no real interplay between the instruments. The album was recorded in Los Angeles and at times the steel has a real Speedy West sound to it, although I doubt that Speedy was actually playing on this album.

My copy of the album is Vocalion VL-73853, supposedly a stereo recording but I did not notice much channel separation. The album has been reissued on several occasions, on other MCA labels. I think a monaural version of the Vocalion album also may exist but I doubt that it sounds much different than the stereo version.

    Track List

Blue Steel
My Love
Whispering Sea
New Rainbow
Stop
Heartaches Meet Mr. Blues
Darkest Day
My Angel Mother
My Life Story
Gonna Pack My Troubles

For first recordings this was an impressive effort by Loretta. I would like to have heard Loretta revisit some of these songs after her own style became more fully developed.

Grade: B to B+

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2 responses to “Album Review: ‘Here’s Loretta Lynn’

  1. Razor X April 22, 2016 at 8:59 am

    I think Speedy West did play on this album. Listen to some of the studio banter on the intro to Full Circle. Loretta specifically mentions him.

  2. Ken April 22, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Speedy West played steel guitar on the 1960 Zero sessions which he also produced although he did not receive official credit. Zero Records owner Norm Burley provided enough budget to rent the Western Recorders studio on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood and to have West hire top notch studio musicians including veteran fiddler Harold Hensley, lead guitarist Roy Lanham, bassist Al Williams and drummer Milton “Muddy” Berry. A total of 12 songs were recorded for Zero but only ten were issued on the “Here’s Loretta Lynn” album. Vocalion chose not to include Loretta’s hit “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl” and one unreleased track “Darlin’ Don’t.”

    Zero issued three Loretta Lynn singles:
    Zero 107 I’m A Honky Tonk Girl / Whispering Sea (1960)
    Zero 110 New Rainbow / Heartaches Meet Mr. Blues (1960)
    Zero 112 The Darkest Day / Gonna Pack My Troubles (1961)

    Recording songs only written by Loretta was likely a wise cost-saving move as Zero did not have to pay publishing royalties to anyone but Loretta. If the songs proved unsuccessful there was no money lost. Considering that she had no experience Loretta came up with some very solid material.

    The Vocalion album [VL 73853] was issued only in reprocessed stereo. By 1968 most major record labels had ceased issuing albums in both stereo & mono formats. The same album master was used for the 1973 reissue of this LP on the Coral label [CB-20064] The original Zero session tapes were most likely mixed for mono release only.

    Despite the limitations of being a novice Loretta showed great promise on her first studio efforts. Backing by top notch musicians added a lot of polish to Loretta’s early compositions. Unlike many small record label recordings of that era these are very well arranged & produced.

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