My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Robby Turner

Album Review: Charley Pride – ‘Music In My Heart’

Music In My Heart is Charley’s first new album since Choices, which was issued in 2011. Charley is now 79 years old; however, his voice seems to have hardly aged at all. I suspect that he may have lost a little off the top of his range but the quality of what remains is outstanding.

Noted songwriter Billy Yates served as the producer of this album, as well as providing several of the songs and singing background on a few of the songs. Yates provides Charley with an updated version of the Nashville Sound minus the strings and soulless vocal choruses. Such stalwarts as Mike Johnson, Robby Turner and Scotty Sanders handle the steel guitar, while Stuart Duncan handles fiddle and mandolin.

The album opens up with the Tommy Collins classic “New Patches” that served up the last top ten single for Mel Tillis back in 1984.

Now and then an old friend tries to help me
By telling me there’s someone I should meet
But I don’t have the heart to start all over
‘Cause my heart is laying at another’s feet

[Chorus:]
You just don’t put new patches on old garments
I don’t want no one else on my mind
I just don’t need nobody new to cling to
I still love someone I’ve known a long long time

“Country” Johnny Mathis (1930-2011), so named so as to not be mistaken for the pop singer of the same name, is nearly forgotten today, but he was a fine songwriter and “Make Me One More Memory” is a fine mid-tempo song, handled with aplomb by Pride.

Take my heart, my soul, my heaven
Take my world away from me
All I ask is one last favor
Make me one more memory

Ben Peters provided Charley with many big hits so it is natural for Pride to raid the Ben Peters songbag for material. Co-written with son Justin Peters, “Natural Feeling For You” is the kind of ballad that could have been a hit during the 1970s or 1980s.

“All By My Lonesome” reminds me of the 1992 Radney Foster song “Just Call Me Lonesome”, although this song comes from Billy Yates and Terry Clayton. This is a mid-tempo ballad with a solid vocal by Pride.

All by my lonesome
Heart broke and then some
Watchin’ ol’ re-runs
On my TV

Drinkin’ and cryin’
So close to dyin’
I’m next to no one
All by my lonesome

Thanks for sendin’ someone by to see if I’m alright
I appreciate your concern tonight
But I don’t need no company
To offer up their sympathy
If it ain’t you then I would rather be

All by my lonesome
Heart broke and then some
Watchin’ ol’ re-runs
On my TV

“It Wasn’t That Funny” was written by Yates and Dobby Lowery. The song is a lovely ballad about an almost breakup, that a couple experienced and can laugh about now, but brought moments of anguish along the way.

Lee Bach penned “The Same Eyes That Always Drove Crazy”, a mid-tempo ballad of a chance meeting after years of separation. This song would have made a good single at any point before about 2005. The song features some really nice steel guitar by Mike Johnson and piano by Steve Nathan.

Billy Yates and Billy Lawson chipped in the introspective ballad “I Learned A Lot”, in which the narrator relives the lessons he’s learned from losing his previous love. The song first appeared on Billy’s album Only One George Jones.

“You’re Still In These Crazy Arms of Mine” was written by Lee Bach, Larry Mercey and Dave Lindsey. The title references what was on the jukebox the first time the narrator met his love. The song has a nice Texas shuffle arrangement (the song references the Ray Price classic “Crazy Arms” and mentions taking out Ray’s old records). Again, this is another song that would have made a good single in bygone years.

“The Way It Was in ‘51” was written by Merle Haggard and was the title track for one of the Hag’s great albums and was the B-side of Hag’s “The Roots of My Raising”.

Sixty-Six was still a narrow two-lane highway
Harry Truman was the man who ran the show
The bad Korean War was just beginning
And I was just three years too young to go

Country music hadn’t gone to New York City yet
And a service man was proud of what he’d done
Hank and Lefty crowded every jukebox
That’s the way it was in fifty one

“Lee Bach” wrote “I Just Can’t Stop Missing You”, a nice ballad that makes for a good album track but wouldn’t ever have been considered for a single. This song apparently has keyboards mimicking the sound of strings giving it more of a Nashville Sound production than the other tracks on the album.

“Whispering Bill” Anderson wrote “You Lied To Me” a song that I don’t think he ever recorded, but Tracy Byrd recorded it on his 1995 album Love Lessons. Charley does a bang up job with the song

You looked at me as only you can look at me
You touched my cheek and told me not to cry
But you said you’d found somebody you loved more than me
And you told me I’d forget you by and by

But you lied to me, yes you lied to me
You said time would close the wound that bled inside of me
But every breath I take brings back your memory
You said I’d forget you, but you lied to me

“Standing In My Way” comes from Billy Yates and Jim McCormick, an interesting ballad of self-recriminations.

The album closes with a spritely up-tempo number from “Country” Johnny Mathis, “Music In My Heart”.

I really liked this album. In fact I would regard this as Charley’s best album in over twenty years. I like the song selections, I like the arrangements and I like Charley’s vocals. Radio won’t play these songs but they should – it’s their loss! Maybe Willie’s Roadhouse will play it – after all octogenarian Willie believes in giving the youngsters a chance. This album doesn’t have a dud among its tracks – solid A.

Album Review: Waylon Jennings – ‘The Lost Nashville Sessions’

the-lost-nashville-sessionsDuring the 1960s and 1970s it was not uncommon for the various branches of the US Military to put together fifteen or thirty minute radio shows for use on country radio stations. Mostly these shows aired on smaller radio stations, usually in air slots where it was difficult for them to sell advertising. Some of these shows, such as Country Music Time (a recruiting tool for the US Air Force) and Country Cooking With Lee Arnold (a recruiting program for the Army Reserves) featured some chatter with the weeks’ musical guests followed by some recordings by the musical guest. Others, such as Navy Hoedown, featured chatter with the featured artist playing with the program’s band.

Waylon Jennings – The Lost Tapes comes from recordings made for an unspecified military recruiter program. The recordings were made at Scotty Moore’s Music City Recorders on July 13, 1970. They have not been commercially available before now.

The songs featured here are songs from the first half dozen years of Waylon’s career with RCA. In other words, these songs pre-date the “Outlaw” movement. The revelation here is that most of these songs were originally recorded with the heavily produced strings and chorus-laden production of the time, but here they are featured without those trappings. As such, this is a real treat for his fans.

Originally recorded, on a rush basis, with members of Waylon’s band, the tracks had problems with the bass and drums, so the tapes were turned over to Robby Turner, a former member of Waylon’s band for post-production work and overdubbing. Robby Turner overdubbed steel guitar, keyboards and dobro; Paul Martin played the bass parts and the drum kit; and Paul Martin, his wife Jamie, Robby Turner and Colene Walters adding vocal harmonies. Waylon plays guitar on the recordings.

The end result is early Waylon songs that sound almost as if they had been released during the ‘New Traditionalist’ era. The song list is as follows:

1. Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line (#2 hit from 1968 – #1 in Record World)
2. The Chokin’ Kind (#8 hit from 1967)
3. Stop The World And Let Me Off (#16 hit from 1965 – Waylon’s first top 20 record)
4. Anita You’re Dreaming (#17 hit from 1966)
5. Just To Satisfy You (he & Don Bowman wrote – minor hit for Bobby Bare, 1965 & Waylon & Willie, 1982)
6. Green River (#11 hit in 1967)
7. Singer of Sad Songs (#12 hit from 1970)
8. Love of The Common People (title track for one of Waylon’s albums)
9. MacArthur Park (#23 hit from 1969, cover of a pop hit by Richard Harris)
10. Brown Eyed Handsome Man (#3 hit from 1970 – #1 in Record World, written by Chuck Berry)
11. Mental Revenge (#12 hit from 1967)
12. Time To Bum Again (#17 hit from 1966)
13. Sunday Morning Coming Down (Kristofferson wrote it, Cash released single in September 1970)
14. Young Widow Brown (Waylon wrote it and released it as an album track)

I picked up my copy at Cracker Barrel. The songs were all familiar to me but I really enjoyed hearing the frequently less orchestrated versions on this disc. Bass and drums are a little loud so I give this a B+, but the concept is definitely worthwhile, and more modern listeners than I likely will give this an A.

Grade: B+

Album Review: Waylon Jennings – ‘Goin’ Down Rockin’ – The Last Recordings’

It’s been over a decade (February 2002) since we lost the great Waylon Jennings, and four years since the release of Waylon Forever, the collaboration released by his son Shooter Jennings. Since Waylon had been in poor health during the years immediately prior to his death, I had assumed (and feared) that we’d heard the last new recordings from Ol’ Waylon.

It turns out that I was wrong, and I’ve seldom been so pleased to be wrong about something. In September 2012, Goin’ Down Rockin’: The Last Recordings will be released. The album will include twelve songs, written and recorded by Jennings along with his bassist Robby Turner during the last years of his life.

Jennings recorded the songs only playing his guitar and singing while accompanied by Turner on the bass. Further instrumentation was planned, but it was stopped due to Jennings’ death in 2002. Turner completed the recordings ten years later with the help of members of Jennings’ band The Waylors.

“Goin’ Down Rockin’” is the leadoff track for the album. It is probably my least favorite track in the album, mostly because I don’t like the guitar work on the cut, but even so I like the song. Swamp legend Tony Joe White assists with vocals. Waylon doesn’t appear to be in particularly good voice on this track so I assume it’s one of the last tracks recorded. In a way the song’s chorus perfectly reflects Waylon’s outlook on life:

Spent a little time in the congregation, that’s how I was raised
Spent a little time in trouble, but I do have my ways
If I can’t go down rockin’, I ain’t gonna go down at all

“Belle Of The Ball” has more of a contemporary country sound, with nice steel guitar work. The song is a gentle and reflective ballad about one of the things that did go right. I don’t know if the song is specifically about his wife Jessi Colter but it would certainly fit

A vagabond dreamer, a rhymer and singer of songs
Singing to no one and nowhere to really belong
I met a beautiful lady, a pure Southern belle of the ball
Like Scarlett O’Hara, loved no one and wanted them all

There is a nice you tube video of Shooter Jennings that you can watch until the album becomes available on September 11, 2012.

“If My Harley Was Runnin'” is the lament many of us have felt – nothing in life is working (including personal relationships) and there is no way to run – but watch out because if ever he gets his Harley working as he’ll be long gone. I wasn’t that impressed with the song the first time I heard it, but it certainly has grown on me with repeated playing.

“I Do Believe” is a very reflective song taken at a slow tempo, not overtly religious but very spiritual just the same. Another song that has grown on me with repetition:

In my own way I’m a believer
But not in voices I can’t hear
I believe in a loving father
One I never have to fear
That I should live life at its fullest
Just as long as I am here

“Friends In California” and “The Ways of The World” are just decent country songs, performed well . The latter has the same tempo and pattern as one of Waylon’s biggest hits “Amanda”, a song I think you could easily sing to this melody. “Shakin’ The Blues” is a slow song. Again a decent lyric improved by the fact that Waylon is the artist singing it.

Waylon was always a master at medium fast tempo blues-rockers and “Never Say Die” is no exception. The song is on a par with any similar such songs Waylon recorded in his long and distinguished career

Well, there’s snow on the mountain, a fire down below
No place to hide, but there’s no place to go
Seems like I’m surrounded by the trouble in the air
If there’s any way out I can’t find it anywhere

Chorus: But I’ll never say die
Never say die
I ain’t givin’ in or givin’ up without a try
No, I’ll never say die

I love “Wastin’ Time”, the most solidly country song of the bunch. The best county songs are about troubles, sorrows and laments and no one did them better than Ol’ Waylon

I’ve made up my mind to make my move
It’s just a waste of time to wait on you
I’m set to leave and you’re set in your ways
You can’t change and if you can’t I can’t stay

I’ve been wasting time that I can’t spare
Wastin’ love when you don’t care
And the one conclusion I’ve come to
I’ve been wasting time and a lot of good love on you

“Sad Songs And Waltzes” is an older song that I first heard on a Keith Whitley album some years ago. I very much liked Keith’s version but Waylon has more resignation in his vocals which gives the song a different flavor, so I wouldn’t want to choose between the two versions.

I’ve been married a long time so I don’t have any recent experience with barroom angels. Even so, I don’t suspect that things have changed much. Forty years ago “She Was No Good For Me” might have become a radio classic. Even if radio won’t play it today, it’s a fine song:

She was wonderfully wicked and wild
With the looks of a woman
And the ways of a child
She could twist me or turn me
With a look or a smile
And she was just no good for me

Don’t be taken by the look in her eyes
If she looks like an angel
It’s a perfect disguise
And for somebody else she may be
But she was just no good for me

The album ends with “Wrong Road To Nashville” , a song which has a strong Cajun flavoring with Cajun fiddles and rhythm, and a few vocal scats lifted from “Jolie Blon”. Lyrically this song is not that strong, but it is a pleasant aural experience.

Apparently there wasn’t a great backlog of unreleased Waylon Jennings material at the time of his death, so this may be the last Waylon Jennings album of new material. If so, Waylon has exited on a very high note. Kudos to Robby Turner for the exemplary job he did in finishing off the masters in a manner befitting a legend. Kudos also to Waylon Jennings for being that legend.

Grade: A-