Thursday, August 24, 2006

emphatically fanatical-Lee country

The Shacklefords
Until you've heard the Shacklefords, you ain't heard nothin' yet

Produced by Lee Hazlewood & Marty Cooper, and named after Naomi Shackleford - Lee Hazlewood's first wife and high school sweetheart. Lee wrote much of the material on this record, the first of two Shacklefords albums and his sonorous voice can be heard singing backup vocals on most tracks and in the foreground on a couple. The band also released a number of singles, their first being A stranger In Your Town (track 6).
If the liner notes are to be trusted, Lee Hazlewood was breaking new ground here in defining the crossover genre of Country Folk:

"The Shacklefords have come up with just about the doggonedest sound you've ever heard. And I'm surprised that no one thought of it before, because the idea of combining two of America's distinct native musical heritages—folk music and country music—is a natural.
After all, the roots are basically the same—southern and southwest in origin— and the blend of the two is like putting together steak and potatoes."
— Jack Tracy, Mercury Recording Director

Richie Unterberger from All Music Guide, is not so kind:
"An interesting combination of folk and country music presented in an honest, warm and appealing manner" boasts the banner on the back sleeve... To "honest, warm and appealing" they could have added "bland." That's even though most of the songs were written, together or separately, by Lee Hazlewood and his sometime cohort Marty Cooper. And, yes, even though ace session men like James Burton, Hal Blaine, Billy Strange, and Al Casey play on the album. It's wholesome, pretty sterile whitebread folk-country, in the manner of many early-1960s folk LPs that were trying to be variety-show entertainment more than they were a vehicle for personal expression, or steeped in authentic folk music. Just one song, "Our Little Boy Blue," has the sort of eccentricity typical of much of Hazlewood's stranger work, with his dust-dry narration of a lyric impossible to pigeonhole as either cornball or put-on satire. Hazlewood's unmistakably deep, debauched-Johnny Cash-style vocals are heard from time to time (usually in the background), but only Hazlewood fanatics will want this in their collection."

Well, Ritchie, I must be one of those fanatics!
After repeated listenings in the process of cleaning up this rip I'm hooked on this sound - there's an optimism and vitality there that keeps me humming... clearly it never claimed to be "authentic" but if you like the sound of Country before it disappeared up it's own fundamental orifice in the latter decades of the twentieth century, give it a listen... To me this is catchy country pop at it's simplistic and sentimental best!

01 Mama Was a Cotton Picker
02 (There Goes) The Big Boss Man
03 Sweet Mollye (Life can be so Cruel)
04 Golden Bells
05 If The World Don't End Tomorrow (I'm Coming After You)
06 A Stranger In Your Town
07 Our little Boy Blue
08 Caro-Lyn
09 Big River
10 After That
11 Stand Up
12 You'll Never Have My Love So True

Come 'n' get it! [160kbps mono Mercury LP MG 20806/1963]
scans & full album text included in archive

Sunday, August 13, 2006

now for some Light relief:

Project 3 presents The Enoch Light Singers:
Dream A Little Dream of Me

from the back cover:
Exciting new winds are blowing through popular music these days. The musical revolution set off by the success of such singing groups as the Beatles, Herman's Hermits and other rock groups has spread out and left its touch on every aspect of contemporary music.

The style and approach originally formulated by small singing groups has been picked up by instrumentalists so that a completely new view of instrumental music has appeared. Musicians playing in dance bands and orchestras, whose concepts had stayed more or less the same since the great days of the big bands, have found a wonderfully freshening excitement in the musical ideas that they hear the small singing groups putting out.

Listening to this development — the progression of influences from the small singing groups to the instrumentalists — Enoch Light perceived at least one direction in which it was leading: The next step, the next progression of influence, would be a large group of singers whose attack and phrasing picked up the drive and intensity of a big band even while it reflected the basic singing styles of the small groups.

That was why he organised and trained the Enoch Light Singers — sixteen superb, well drilled voices, eight girls, eight boys, who phrase and sing in the same way as today's most advanced musicians.

What he undertook was a kind of choral work that had never been attempted before. To get his new group to sing just the way today's musicians play, Light first had them study the musicians' attack on a song very closely. Then he drilled them to phrase in the same way the musicians did, using a fall-off or whatever stylistic devices might occur.

The arrangements of the twelve big hits with which Enoch Light introduces his Singers start from the original small group treatment and are developed through the use of all the elements that have given contemporary music its great popularity. The instrumentation, the styling in both playing and singing, the use of dynamics — all are part of Light's broadened concept.

For Enoch Light, this is one more step in the extraordinarily exploratory direction in which he has always moved. It was Enoch Light who first gave stereo a musical meaning. His records have consistently pointed the way that others have followed, whether he was reaching back into the fun and music of the 20's, popularising the big band cha cha or the bossa nova or the big band discotheque.

With the creation of the Enoch Light Singers, he's still moving with the times - and, as usual, he's out front, pointing the way.

This one's on the Australian Universal Summit Records label.

01 I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight
02 I Say A Little Prayer
03 Green Tambourine
04 It Must Be Him
05 Love Is Blue
06 Ode To Billy Joe
07 People Got to Be Free
08 Whoever You Are, I Love You
09 Hello I Love You
10 Dream a Little Dream of Me
11 Harper Valley PTA
12 Lady Willpower

dream on [192kps Undated-196? SRA250 031]