Friday, October 14, 2011

COUNTRY SOUNDS OF THE '50s


COUNTRY SOUNDS OF THE '50s
Bear Family Releases CDs by Vin Bruce and Warner Mack


VIN BRUCE   Dans La Louisianne
Fille de la ville (Girl Of The Town); Dans la Louisianne (In Louisiana); Sweet Love; I Trusted You; Claire de la lune (Light Of The Moon); Je laissez mon coer (I Left My Heart); Are You Forgetting; Knockin' On The Door; Goodbye To A Sweetheart (Hello To A Friend); I'm Gonna Steal My Baby Back; My Mama Said; I'll Stay Single; La valse de St. Marie; Oh ma belle; Le délece; Si toi tu m'aime; Over An Ocean Of Golden Dreams; I Tried; Here Is The Bottle; Too Many Girls
(Bear Family BCD 16895 AH)

Vin Bruce might not be a familiar name but he played a major role in Cajun recording history and earned the name “King of Cajun Music”. He was the first Cajun to be marketed to a mass public having been signed to a major label, Columbia Records, and the first to record with Nashville session musicians.

On a geographical basis Vin Bruce was considered more a hillbilly artist rather than a Cajun as he hailed from Lafourche Parish, in south-east Louisiana, rather than the more recognised Cajun area that stretched from Lafayette to Lake Charles. Consequently he sang in Cajun and English, did not feature an accordion  and played dances and honky-tonks. His records, produced by Don Law, clearly mixed the two music’s, with pickers like Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley and Grady Martin providing accompaniment not associated with Cajun recordings. And, as a major label artist, recordings like Dans La Louisianne, Fille de la Ville, My Mama Said and Sweet Love were given major promotion, earning Bruce a spot on the Grand Ole Opry and attention from the likes of Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams. (Williams even invited Bruce to play at his public wedding ceremony to Billie Jean Jones in New Orleans). But his days with Columbia were short-lived due to the advent of rock ‘n’ roll which terminated, or slowed down, so many other country music careers.

This 20 track collection brings together all of Vin Bruce’s Columbia recordings, including a couple of unreleased items, and presents an entertaining variant of early ‘50s honky-tonk. Michael Hunt provides a detailed biography on an artist rarely found in the country music reference books and, completing the accompanying booklet’s 34 pages, there’s also rare photographs and a discography.


WARNER MACK   Baby Squeeze Me
Baby Let's Play House;Baby Squeeze Me; Falling In Love; Is It Wrong (For Loving You); Lonesome For You Now; Down By The Waterfalls; Say These Love Words; I've Found Love; Prison Of Love; Now I'm Living; Oh You Better Be Careful; I'll Run Back To You;  Roc-A-Chicka; Ubangi Stomp; Anything For You; Won't Do That No More; Suddenly; Since I Lost You;  Just Living My Life; Someone Somewhere; Too Bashful; Going Away To School; Baby Ain't Moving Me Anymore; I Heard You Crying In Your Sleep; That's My Heart's Desire; I Don't Know Why; Tell Me Darlin'; My Ann; What A Feelin'; My Love For You; First Chance I Get; Mary Carter Paint-1; Your Fool; Mary Carter Paint-2; Yes There's A Reason; I'm Just Older And Wiser; Mary Carter Paint-3; Honky Tonk Song.
(Bear Family BCD 16525 AH)

Warner MacPherson (later to be known as Warner Mack thanks to an  accidentally misspelling on a record label!) was one of those rare country artists to have been born in Nashville although he grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Although he’s best known for a couple of dozen country hits in the 1960s and ‘70s - headlined by such as The Bridge Washed Out and Sittin’ On A Rock (Crying In A Creek) – he began recording in the ‘50s with his aim set firmly towards rockabilly. Now that early stage of his career is brought together in this 38 track collection - the latest release in Bear Family's "Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight" series - comprising recordings made for Delta, Decca, Scarlet and Top Rank alongside a couple of other rarities.

His rockabilly intentions are made clear with the two items for Delta, covers of Baby Let’s Play House and Ubangi Stomp, both following closely the originals made by Elvis Presley and Warren Smith respectively. He began his first association (and the change of name) with Decca in 1957 where such originals as Is It Wrong (For Loving You), which enjoyed country and pop chart success, and Roc-A-Chicka established his reputation as a songwriter. But it was a short-lived association as Mack felt that Decca “weren’t pushing my records at the time and country was as dead as a doornail in 1959”. So one-off, more country orientated, releases followed on independents Scarlet (My Love For You c/w Someone, Somewhere) and Top Rank (Prison Of Love c/w I’ll Run Back To You) before returning to Decca and the beginning of his country chart run.

Also featured on this cd are advertising spots for the Mary Carter paint company and a live radio recording of Honky Tonk Song in which Warner Mack shares vocal credits with Dale Potter. This artist’s part in creating the Nashville Sound (and his subsequent career) is told in the cd’s accompanying 42 page booklet by Martin Hawkins, with his text accompanied by rare photographs and discography.

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