My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Razor X

In Memoriam: Country legends we’ve lost already in 2019

As our friend Razor X pointed out to me, January has been a cruel month for fans of historical country music. Before we flip the page into February, I wanted to note the legends who are, sadly, no longer amongst us. I’ve chosen to eulogize them in descending order.

Maxine Brown Russell (1931-2019)

Russell passed away January 21 at age 87 following complications from heart and kidney disease. Along with her siblings Bonnie Brown Ring and Jim Ed Brown, she was a member of the trio The Browns, who were active from 1954-1968. The trio scored their biggest hit “The Three Bells” 60 years ago, spending 10 consecutive weeks at #1 from August 7-November 2, 1959. The trio was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015. Jim Ed, who went on to have a successful solo career with hits such as “Pop a Top” and “I Don’t Want to Have To Marry You” with Helen Cornelius, died in 2015 following a battle with lung cancer. The disease claimed their sister Bonnie in 2016.

Reggie Young (1936-2019)

Young passed away January 17 from heart failure at age 82. A guitarist, Young’s signature sound graced hundreds of rock, pop, and country records. He most famously worked with Elvis Presley and Waylon Jennings.

Carol Channing (1921-2019)

Perhaps the most recognizable name in this group, Channing was a Broadway legend who made her mark playing Dolly Gallagher Levi in the musical Hello Dolly, which premiered in 1964. While not known for impacting country music in any significant way, she had a duet with Webb Pierce in 1976, entitled “Got You On My Mind.” Channing passed on January 15 of natural causes at age 97.

Bonnie Guitar (1923-2019)

Guitar, a country singer, guitarist, and business-woman, died January 12 at age 95. Please read our friend Paul W. Dennis’ Country Heritage Redux piece on her to learn more about her remarkable career. One of her biggest hits was “Dark Moon,” which was a #14 country single and peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart:

My Kind of Country turns 10

Do you remember where you were exactly ten years ago? Barack Obama has just defeated John McCain to win his first of two-terms as our 44th President. The United States was beginning to feel the effects of the Great Recession. On our radios, a hot new group out of Georgia was dominating the charts. This week in 2008, Zac Brown Band logged their first of two consecutive weeks at #1 with their debut single “Chicken Fried.” On the album’s chart, it was Taylor Swift’s just-released Fearless, logging its third consecutive week at #1, with no signs of slowing down.

In the country blogosphere, J.R. Journey launched My Kind of Country. Our little blog was born ten years ago tomorrow on Dec. 8, 2008. On that day, J.R. wrote:

Welcome to the My Kind Of Country blog.  Here, you will find reviews, editorials, and discussions about the country music we love – our kind of country.  The idea is simple:  rather than write lots of negative reviews about the new music that’s coming out – because let’s face it, much of what comes out of Nashville and your country radio dial is crap – we are going to write about the music we love.  The music that moves us, drives us, and makes us laugh and cry; the music that touches us.  Not that we will spend our time posting fangirl gushes about a select group of artists that are among our favorites.  To the contrary, we intend to post about the music we love and tell you why we love it, and of course, how we think it could be improved upon.

It’s been an ambitious mission from the start. Erik wrote our first album review, a glowing critique of LeAnn Rimes’ Family, on Dec. 10. Our first spotlight artist? Oh, that was Miss Leslie and her Juke-Jointers in January 2009. Through the years we’ve seen many writers retire their individual perspectives on country music, from our friends Erik, Rainbow, Chris Dean, Megan Morrow, and Razor X to our fearless leader himself, J.R.

I won’t begin to assert I’m an historian on all things MKoC. I joined the team in June 2011 after I had become enamored with their Spotlight Artist coverage of Emmylou Harris in April. After reading a few of their reviews, I digitally downloaded her solo albums from the 1970s and composed a post on my own blog, entitled “New Artist Obsession: Emmylou Harris.” I had included a link to their coverage, which garnered the attention of J.R. and Razor X. I had no idea how impressed J.R. would be with my work, nor was I gunning for anyone’s attention. Shortly thereafter he sent me an email and asked me to join the team, an honor I accepted happily and excitedly. My first post was a single review for Julie Roberts’ “NASCAR Party” that ruffled a few feathers with her publicity team. I then contributed two single reviews to their Randy Travis coverage that month, among other reviews, and was off to the races.

But this isn’t solely about me. My Kind of Country has and always will be about a passionate group of fans sharing their thoughts and perspectives on country music with a critical ear. Two of our longest contributing writers, Razor X, and Occasional Hope, became members of the team in Feb. 2009. Razor’s first post, “Rediscovering Forgotten Gems” found him taking a look back at albums, with a focus on Randy Travis, he had the urge to revisit. Occasional Hope introduced herself to readers through “Finding Country,” in which she shared how she came to love country music. Paul W. Dennis joined just before I did in 2011. The 9513 had just shuttered and J.R. asked him to continue his Country Heritage series with us. His first post was “Country Heritage: Gary Stewart – A Short Life Of Trouble (1944-2003).”

A while back, a friend had asked me if they could take a look at work on MKoC and even proceeded to print it out in order to read it (yes, I also thought that was strange). In doing so, he made a comment I’ve never forgotten. He said the blog had a really great title and I instantly knew what he meant. He didn’t say it, but he was referring to the idea that as a group of writers we’re each sharing the country music we love individually, writing pieces that reflect our love of the genre, not just getting assigned albums and singles we may or may not care enough about to compose a thoughtful post. I hadn’t looked at it that way, but he was correct in every sense of the word.

I also often think about how hard it is to keep a blog going and just how many have come and gone in the ten years we’ve been alive. It’s easy for readers to overlook the fact that our positions as staff writers aren’t our full or even part-time jobs. MKoC is a labor of love we create out of passion for country music. It takes a village to keep a blog vital, which is why The 9513 and Country California have ceased publication. Engine 145 only ended once Juli Thanki received a prestigious position with The Tennessan, which has led to exciting opportunities for her in 2019. Ken Morton, Jr’s That Nashville Sound is still going strong and  Country Universe is still around, after 14 years, albeit in an abbreviated form.

Little did J.R. realize in his inaugural post when he wrote: “much of what comes out of Nashville and your country radio dial is crap.” He never could’ve known the assault on the very ideals of commercial country music that was coming down the line with bro-country and whatever the heck you call what’s followed in its wake. It’s ironic, at least to me, that the peak years for country blogging have coincided with the continued release of literally the worst music our beloved genre has ever produced. At least we’ve learned there are alternatives and still some pretty awesome music being made if you know where to look.

I know this post is long, but heck, you only celebrate your tenth anniversary once. We would not be here if it wasn’t for our continued passion for country music, but even more importantly, our readers. Thank you for continuing to make us and our writing a part of your lives. Please continue to comment and engage with us on our posts. We always love reading and responding to whatever you have to say.

Onward.

Album Review: Johnny Paycheck – ‘Shakin’ The Blues’

Bear Family Records issued Shakin’ The Blues in May 2006 as a collection comprised of recordings Johnny Paycheck made for Decca, Mercury, and Todd between 1958-1964. Much like the previous sets, the album leans heavily on hardcore honky-tonk and finds Paycheck echoing the styles of both Ray Price and Faron Young.

None of these recordings were ever issued as singles or reissued on LP or CD. What sets this compilation apart is the last nine songs, which are carbon copies of hits from the day meant to sound interchangeable with the hit recording. The chosen songs, which include “Hello Walls” and “Above and Beyond” are good, but they’re nothing special or essential.

The rest of these recordings, of which there are 20, are fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the jaunty “The Old Man and the River” and “Story Behind The Photograph,” which clearly demonstrates the influence of Young on his vocal style.

There are simply too many tracks to highlight them all, but Paycheck shines brightest on the honky-tonk numbers, which I found to be the most inviting of the bunch. There are a number of Nashville Sound era songs and while they’re good, there’s really nothing about that style that has held up to modern ears.

When I went back and read Razor X’s review from earlier this week, I took particular note of his comment regarding the sound quality of these Bear Family reissue recordings. It’s the latter part of this project, tracks 17-19, that stand out the most in this regard. That, unfortunately, contains the cover tunes, which truly sound awful. I, too, wish some delicate remastering had taken place, at least to aid in one’s enjoyment and appreciation of what Paycheck had recorded during this era.

To my ears, Shakin’ The Blues is a very uneven set of songs, diminished primarily in terms of sound quality and then Nashville Sound era trappings. The honky-tonk numbers, of which there are many, are fantastic and well-worth seeking out. They shine the brightest amongst the muck that surrounds them. This is still a worthy set, essential in the sense that it captures an icon in his formative years. These are important recordings, regardless of the quality.

Grade: B

A thank you note to The 9513

Sometime in the first half of 2008, I was browsing the web for country music news, and stumbled upon The 9513’s daily news roundups.  That first article I read wasn’t easy to track down, but I found it, remembering it having to do with CMT Can You Duet winners Caitlin & Will, because at the same time I was led to Country California and C.M. Wilcox’s (then using the pen name John Maglite) musings about the duo’s future at country radio with their similarities to Lady Antebellum. Right then, Country Universe was in the midst of their 100 Greatest Women countdown, so I had the good fortune of discovering 3 excellent country music-related sites in quick succession, all thanks to The 9513.

From the comments on articles and the forum discussions (remember the comment corral?), I got to know many great people, and after seeing the common ground some of us had, I had the brainstorm to create this humble blogsite, with contributors pulled directly from The 9513’s readership. We launched here in December 2008, with 3 writers. (Chris Dean has since departed to attend college, and is now a missionary in Italy. We wish him luck, and await his return.) From the same pool I plucked my first 2 fellow contributors later came this site’s greatest assets: Razor X and Occasional Hope.

So, thanks to The 9513, we were off and running. But their contributions to our success were far from finished. Brady and Brody Vercher’s daily news roundups sent many new readers our way, and I can’t thank them enough for loaning us an audience. It’s hard to put into words the feeling a green blogger like myself got when I saw my name and my words linked from their news roundups, the column that started it all for me. That first mention must be how country singers feel when they debut on the Grand Ole Opry. More than allowing us to spin-off and sending us readers, the excellent crop of talent at The 9513 influenced me to start on the path to the job I have today as a columnist for American Noise. With the likes of Jim Malec, Blake Boldt, Juli Thanki, Chris Neal, and so many others, setting a standard I could never reach. They continue to up the bar, and I keep trying to catch up.  I’m saddened to see the site retired, and the three of us here at My Kind of Country want to thank the Verchers for creating and maintaining the standard for country music websites, for countless hours of entertaining reads, and for being the stalk from which we sprouted.

– J.R. Journey

Like all its readers, I’ll miss reading The 9513 as part of my daily routine. The breadth of its coverage, from mainstream to bluegrass to Americana/alt-country, means it really did cover the whole of country music in a way no other site could really equal. More than that, though, I feel I can say it changed my life. I would never had begun blogging myself if I hadn’t found the 9513 in, I think, the spring or early summer of 2008. Before that, I felt pretty isolated as a country fan, because I knew hardly anyone in real life who shared my tastes in music at all. The 9513, and the associated forum that started in the summer of 2008, made me feel like part of a community, and that gave me the confidence to write about the music I love. And when I accepted J.R.’s invitation to join the team here, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of their links to many of our posts.

– Occasional Hope

I originally found The 9513 via a Google search, and it quickly became my favorite country music website. The quality of the writing was always superb, and I admired the fearless honesty that characterized their music reviews. More importantly, I forged a lot of new friendships with the people who frequented the site. I never imagined that it would lead to the opportunity to write for this blog. I greatly improved my knowledge of country music thanks to The 9513 and will miss it terribly. Its absence will create a void that will be impossible to fill, despite our best efforts to do so. So to Brady and Brody I offer a heartfelt thanks and my best wishes for your future endeavors.

– Razor X

Interviews and humor: Your favorite country blogs posts of 2009

The rise in popularity of country blogging and its growing readership has allowed so many of to co-exist, but also to begin doing things that were traditionally only done by print publications, or major media networks like CMT or GAC, who just happened to have an online outlet for their various coverage of country music. But more and more throughout the past months, artists have been turning to the websites and blogs when lining up their press tours, making time to speak to the blogs to get the word out about their latest release, or to just allow the fans to catch up with what they’ve been up to.

Almost every means of public consumption becomes obsolete with time, and that becomes evident when the new medium begins to show signs of catching up, and soon eclipsing, that of the old. I think we’re seeing that every day as we read and comment and interact with each other. Maybe I’m just being too optimistic, and being centered in this field as I am, it would certainly be easy for me to be seeing this through tunnel vision. But it seems to me that the last year has been very prosperous for nearly every country music-related site on the net. That makes me happy.

A few weeks ago, I sent out an email to a small group of my colleagues in the community of country music blog-people. I only had so many addresses, so not everybody got the message. So, with the help of The 9513, Country California, and Facebook, I got the word out that I wanted to compile a list of our favorite posts from the past year on the numerous quality websites. I originally hoped for 50 to make a list out of, but the way the results came in, they demanded a written summary.  Hopefully I’ve put them in a easy to read and access format.

Read more of this post

Talking to the stars: Best country blog posts of the year?

In July of 2007, a wonderful thing happened to me.  I was already a hard-core country music fan by then.  I was a steadfast reader of the CMT blog and their news section.  I also tried to keep up with country music through various google alerts – and still do.  But one day while searching for some particular tidbit of information, I stumbled upon the Granddaddy of Country Blogs, The 9513.  I found an early mailbag, and after reading, I decided to poke around the site.  I found intelligent reviews and well-thought editorials, all crawling with comments from just the kind of country fans I had been looking to interact with.  (I still love the CMT blog, but the regulars there are a bit untamed.)  From my new discovery, and mostly thanks to the daily news roundups, I began exploring the wealth of country music journalism all over the web, all suited to my own tastes, and even beyond that.  I was soon reading Country Universe, the Photocrap blog (now Farce the Music), and even found the Country California site before John Maglite sold it to C.M. Wilcox, who took the humor to another level.  There was also many more, and you can find them on this site’s blogroll.

There was something for everybody already by then, but I still jumped right in with my own comments.  It wasn’t long until I was bitten by the blogging bug, and the idea struck me for this site.  Knowing I couldn’t do it on my own, I set out to scoop up as many of the great writers as I could, and get them on my side, before the other blogs wanted them.  We started in December of 2008, with a simple idea: to write about the music we loved.  It became evident that mainstream country wasn’t going to accomodate us on a daily basis, so we sat out to write about the rich history of country music, alongside the latest releases.  And by March of this year, My Kind of Country was a genuine country music blog property, thanks in no small part to the big blogs lending us their readers.  Thanks again, you guys.  But enough about us.

We’ve all been very fortunate this year to be able to read a rich tapestry of entries from countless writers in the country blogosphere.  We’ve read scathing reviews and glowing ones, we’ve listened to candid and revealing interviews, and of course the oft-needed bitching and moaning to get things back the way we want them.  Country blogging has run the gamut this year and I’m so very proud to have been a small part of it.  I also look forward to what the new year will bring, as online literature continues to grow, and we drag country music, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.  Here’s to you, the pioneers of country blogging.  You are my heroes.

When I started thinking about reviving this post – an idea from the mind of C.M. Wilcox – I knew, like everything else in life, that I’d need the help of my friends to compile a truly worthy list.  So I sent out an email to every country blogger in my address book asking them their favorite blog posts of the year.  The consensus seemed to run towards interviews as personal favorites, with country blogging heavyweights Brady Vercher, Leeann Ward, and Blake Boldt all citing various interviews as the best articles of the year.  Here’s a few of the choice picks for best country blog posts of the year.  These are just what we came up with as a preliminary list.  With your help, we’d like to create a complete list of the 50 greatest posts from the past 12 months.  So be sure to jump in the comments section and tell us your picks so we can add them to the final ballot.

Charlie Louvin: Exclusive Pre-Grammy Interview – The 9513 – by Juli Thanki

A Conversation with Kathy Mattea – Country Universe – by Kevin Coyne

Heart, soul, and talent: Connie Smith’s recipe for great country music – My Kind of Country – by Razor X

Does Swift Have Tubb Appeal? – Country California – by C.M. Wilcox

Giving The People What They Want: Nashville’s Changing Music Business – The 9513 – by Chris Neal

John Rich: The Interview – The 9513 – by Jim Malec

‘All White’ Darius Rucker Parody – Farce The Music – by Trailer

What would you add to the list?  What writers and blogs have you discovered this year and made part of your daily reading?