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Old 07-21-2017, 01:49 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Janszoon View Post
Tell me more. I'm interested in older country but I don't own much from that era. I'd be curious to check out some recommendations.
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Originally Posted by rostasi View Post
It's a kind of what smooth jazz is to jazz.
Chet Atkins spearheaded a movement of
making country music more commercial by
getting rid of all of the hillbilly/honky-tonk
parts of it and concentrating on big productions
with a smoother sound. Think Jim Reeves,
Patsy Cline, Charlie Rich, Don Gibson, etc.
Later to be known as the Nashville Sound.
It's considered an attempt at getting country
back in the charts after the introduction of the
new music of rock 'n' roll.
Good analogy, actually, and it's part of my justification for choosing the 1948-56 era.

Chet Atkins is a superb guitarist. And I know some will argue that his "big productions and smoother sound" was necessary to rescue country music from the threat posed by rock 'n' roll.

But from my perspective, he had a large role in wrecking what I most love about country. It goes without saying that, in my view, the Anita Kerr singers have jack **** to do with genuine country music. But it's more than that; Atkins' productions from around 1956 onward have a thin, brittle sound that drives me nuts. The guitars become more trebly, the steel guitars more whiny (I'm actually more of a fan of lap steel than I am pedal steel...there's a purity about it).

Contrast this with the fat, warm, intimate sound of a typical Don Law production from the years prior to that. Think Ray Price, Lefty Frizzell, Carl Smith, early Marty Robbins, etc.

These guys, plus of course Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce, The Louvin Brothers, and selected others...that's the era I love most. I also love George Jones's Starday sides. They're not much for fidelity, it's true, but they're just so down and dirty and funky.

I just find the distinctiveness of these artists' vocals, plus the spare but beautifully played instrumental backing, speaks to me more profoundly than other eras. Not to say I don't like country music from most any decade...just that this is...well, my favorite.


P.S. to Janszoon: All of the artists I mentioned are a great place to start. Just make certain that you get the original recordings from the 50s. Some of these guys (e.g., Frizzell, Smith, Price, Pierce) rerecorded some of their original 50s hits with more "modern" production and instrumentation — and frankly, these remakes suck.

Last edited by Rick360; 07-21-2017 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 07-21-2017, 01:53 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MicShazam View Post
I really dislike the clearly limited recording equipment on records that old. Basically, I don't bother with anything recorded before the 60's. I can enjoy songs the origins of which are older than that. Even several hundred years older! ... but they have to have been recorded on gear that actually sounds nice.
As my post above states, in my view there's not a thing wrong with 50s country that was recorded well (the examples I gave). It's actually the Chet Atkins era forward where the production becomes a negative.

As a rule, I don't have any problem with recordings that reflect their era. In fact, I can't listen to modern blues and rockabilly because it sounds too pristine, and lacks the character the original studios (Chess and Sun, in particular) brought to the recordings.

Atkins may have had better equipment, but in my view he didn't put it to the best use.
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Old 07-21-2017, 02:01 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Narrowing it down to 48 to 56 seems like having a war on two fronts cause there is a lot of good music before and after that time frame to compete with. I don't know if you are going to get technical with Country music versus Western Swing, but the Tiffany Transcriptions were records before '48. And '57 had hits by Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, and "The Killer" - Jerry Lee Lewis. Even Marty Robins had a hit in 57 with "A White Sports Coat (and a Pink Carnation)" and if that single wasn't awesome enough he releases "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs" in '59. Sorry for the bad news, but that album shot your little theory right between the eyes.
I'm merely stating the era I like best. I'm not stating that I don't like anything outside of that era. Out of the '57 era you mention, only Johnny Cash was truly country, though the others dabbled in it and even had some hits on the country charts. And for all his great work over many decades, Sun-era Cash will always be my favorite. (And I think Marty's "White Sport Coat," while it made him a lot of money, I'm sure, is not one of his finest hours. "El Paso" is the prime example of valid country crossover.)

Because Robbins did a good album in 1959 does not in any way negate my "theory" (which isn't a theory anyway, just a personal preference). I'm only stating the era I return to the most. I'm not closed off to any other, and have enjoyed and also sung and played country music (not to mention a boatload of rock 'n' roll) up till at least the early 80s.

Country also had a good spell in the late 80s/early 90s where it melded country influences with other more adventurous genres without losing its basic heart and soul. But that pretty much went south with the advent of the "hat acts" in the 90s.
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Old 07-23-2017, 08:59 PM   #24 (permalink)
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This song is such a conundrum. On one hand Rick 360 should like this song cause falls in his 1948-56 era, but on the other-hand he really shouldn't cause it has Grady Martin. He was part of the Nashville A Team, the top-notch session musicians who, along with Chet Atkins, were culpable for destroying Country music.

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Old 07-24-2017, 10:12 AM   #25 (permalink)
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This song is such a conundrum. On one hand Rick 360 should like this song cause falls in his 1948-56 era, but on the other-hand he really shouldn't cause it has Grady Martin. He was part of the Nashville A Team, the top-notch session musicians who, along with Chet Atkins, were culpable for destroying Country music.

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I have no idea where you think you're going with this.

Please quote a passage from any of my posts in which I said I like EVERYTHING from the 1948-1956 era. Then, when you've failed at that, quote a passage from one of my posts where I said I hate EVERYTHING from any era that followed. And finally, quote a passage from my posts in which I expressed any animus toward Nashville session musicians (other than the Anita Kerr SINGERS) of any era.

In fact, I revere Grady Martin for his lead guitar work on the Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio sessions, which constitute the finest rockabilly ever produced by anyone, anywhere. Not to mention his work on "El Paso" and so many others.

My criticism was of Chet Atkins's production choices and the way his productions *sounded* as opposed to how country music sounded before he made the effort to turn country music into something more "sophisticated."

You'll have to explain to me how posting a song that:

1) did nothing on the country charts

2) was put out on a label other than RCA

3) was produced by someone other than Chet Atkins

4) is not an example of an attempt to "sophisticate" country music

somehow negates my point of view.
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Old 11-25-2017, 05:40 PM   #26 (permalink)
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I like a lot of older country music that I've heard, but for a lot of it I'm not 100% on dates. This period takes place during the heyday of honky tonk music and Hank Williams. I've always liked Bob Wills, Delmore Brothers (though their music is incredibly hard to find), Ernest Tubb, and Lefty Frizzell (sp?) who I believe all played during at least part of that span, but I still don't know much about it.
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Old 11-25-2017, 05:44 PM   #27 (permalink)
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2013-present is the best. Sturgill Simpson era.
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Old 12-06-2017, 02:09 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I like a lot of older country music that I've heard, but for a lot of it I'm not 100% on dates. This period takes place during the heyday of honky tonk music and Hank Williams. I've always liked Bob Wills, Delmore Brothers (though their music is incredibly hard to find), Ernest Tubb, and Lefty Frizzell (sp?) who I believe all played during at least part of that span, but I still don't know much about it.
Yes, most of those you cite were indeed active during my favorite period.

Bob Wills started in the mid-1930s but remained active through the 1960s at least. His prime is generally considered to be late 1930s till the post-World War II era, after which he had to downsize his band. But great stuff for sure.

Ernest Tubb started recording, er, in earnest in 1940. His earliest tracks are mostly just him on acoustic and one electric guitar, but as time went on he added lap steel, and by the late-40s he was definitely in a honky-tonk mode. He is also about the only country artist whose remakes of his earlier songs are as good as, if not better, than the originals. He always recorded with his road band, The Texas Troubadours, and some great musicians passed through their ranks. The remakes were done ca. 1958, and feature crisp drumming that gives those early songs an extra kick.

The Delmore Brothers were pioneers. The began recording in the early 1930s and became starts of the Grand Ole Opry in the years that followed, but achieved their greatest recording success post-World War II with "Freight Train Boogie" and "Blues Stay Away from Me," which has been covered by many.

Lefty Frizzell was huge in the early- to -mid 1950s — actually bigger than Hank Williams was for a time. He sputtered, though, by mid-decade — but did have at least two more big hits in 1959 and 1964. His singing style was absolutely unique, and a huge influence on many — particularly Merle Haggard and John Anderson. A great songwriter as well as a singer — as late as 1973 he notched a big composer credit with "That's the Way Love Goes," a hit then for Johnny Rodriguez and later for Haggard.

You've definitely got the idea with the artists you mentioned! Be sure to check out Ray Price during his honky-tonk era (but avoid him once he put on a tuxedo!). Carl Smith and Webb Pierce are also worth looking into. And if you want to get really funky, look for George Jones' earliest recordings on the Starday label — still my favorite Jones era of all.
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