THE NASHVILLE SOUND-COUNTRY MUSIC’S GOLDEN ERA.

THE NASHVILLE SOUND-COUNTRY MUSIC’S GOLDEN ERA.

By the mid-fifties, music was changing. Rock ’n’ roll had been born. This was a game-changer. Some genres, including blues and country, were no longer as popular. They were struggling to survive. It was a case of adapt or die. Country music realised this and changed.

Production values changed. The productions became much more polished. Immediately, the rough edges were smoothed away. Country music was transformed. Lush strings were added. Even the singing style change. Some singers adopted the crooning style that was popular amongst pop singers. All this helped transform the fortunes of country music. Not only was country music relevant, but the golden age of country music began.

The golden age of country music began in 1955. It lasted seven years, and finished in 1962. During that period, some of the greatest country music ever recorded was released. This came courtesy of country music legends like Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, George Jones, Charlie Rich, Marty Robbins, Skeeter Davis, Don Gibson, Brenda Lee, Burl Ives, Stonewall Jackson, Dolly Parton and Slim Whitman. Each of these artists feature on Proper Records recently released box set The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era.

The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era is no ordinary box set. It features ninety-nine tracks spread over four discs. There’s also extensive sleeve-notes and a detailed discography. It’s obvious that a lot of time and effort has gone into compiling The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era. 

Each of the four discs on The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era has a theme. Disc one is Four Walls, disc two I Fall To Pieces, disc three Lonesome Number One and disc four She Thinks I Still Care. On each disc, is a combination of classics and hidden gems. They all have one thing in common, their quality. That’s why, for a newcomer to country music, then The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era is the perfect introduction the country music’s golden era. You’ll realise that when I tell you about some of the highlights of The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era.

Disc One-Four Walls.

Opening disc one of The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era is Eddy Arnold’s Cattle Call. It was released in 1955 and epitomised the new country sound. With lush strings playing a part in a much more polished sound. This is very different from just a few years previously. Eddy’s other contribution is his 1959 single Tennessee Stud. It reinforces this much more polished and professional sound. So do a number of other tracks on The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era.

This includes two tracks from Don Gibson. There’s Oh Lonesome Me and his classic I Can’t Stop Loving You. The two tracks from Webb Pierce showcase this much more polished sound. They’re quite different and show two sides of his music. I Ain’t Never has a much more traditional country sound, while Webb croons his way through It’s My Way Of Loving You with weeping guitars for company. Those weeping guitars accompany Charlie Walker on Pick Me Up On Your Way Down and I’ll Catch You When You Fall, which incorporates country music’s past and present. That’s the case with Marvin Rainwater’s two contributions. Gonna Find Me A Bluebird fuses the traditional country sound with a much more polished arrangement. Then on Whole Lotta Woman, Marvin combines country and pop, to create an irresistibly catchy track.

Marty Robbins combines elements of pop and country on A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation). He returns to a more traditional country sound on Singing The Blues. 

Sonny James croons his way through Young Love, Talk Of The School and You’re The Reason I’m In Love. Accompanied by tender harmonies, Bobby Helms croons his way through My Special Angel. It’s a beautiful track, very different to his other contribution Fraulein. Jim Reeves is one of country music’s most famous crooners. His smooth, silky vocal  breathes life, meaning and emotion into Four Walls.

Disc Two-I Fall To Pieces.

Just like disc one, disc two is crammed full of quality country music. There’s no better track that Patsy Cline’s classic Patsy Cline. It’s not just a country classic, but one of the finest songs ever recorded. Another of country music’s best female singers is Brenda Lee. Two tracks from Brenda Lee, I’m Sorry and I Want To Be Wanted are included. I’m Sorry is akin to an outpouring of grief, while Brenda’s vocal on I Want To Be Wanted is best described as needy. Kitty Wells contributes Amigo’s Guitar and Heartbreak USA, which epitomises the golden age of country music. Skeeter Davis contributes two of the highlights of disc two, Am I That Easy To Forget? and (I Can’t Help You) I’m Falling Too. Her vocal is full of hurt and heartbreak. So much so, Skeeter sounds as if she’s lived and survived the lyrics. Marion Worth might not have as high a profile as Patsy, Brenda, Kitty or Skeeter, but she was a popular act at the Grand Ole Opre, during country music’s golden age. I Think I Know shows why. 

Some country artists careers lasted beyond the golden era. This includes Charlie Rich. He delivers an Elvis influenced vocal on Lonely Weekends. George Jones also enjoyed a long and successful career. No wonder. He was capable of consistently releasing quality country music. An example of this is The Window Up Above. Don Gibson’s career also spanned several decades. He contributes Just One Time which showcases one of country music’s finest vocals. The same can be said of Jim Reeves. A true legend of country music, He’ll Have To Go is a reminder of what Gentleman Jim was capable of.

Johnny Tillotson’s career spanned three decades. It began in the late-fifties and lasted right through to the fifties. He’s best known for Poetry In Motion, which was a hit in 1960. It’s a hook-laden fusion of pop and country. Johnny’s other contribution is Jimmy’s Girl, which was also released in 1960. 

Roy Drusky contributes Another (Just Like Me) and Three Hearts In A Tangle. Both songs are full of heartache and emotion. With understated arrangements, Roy’s wistful vocal takes centre-stage.

Although country music changed in 1955, Webb Pierce didn’t. His music was stayed the same. He wasn’t going to forego his trademark hillbilly sound. It’s showcased on Is It Wrong (For Loving You). The quality remained the same. All that changed was the production. It was a bit slicker. 

Sadly, not all the artists enjoyed the longevity of Charlie Rich, George Jones and Brenda Lee. That’s true of The Browns. They were family trio made of Jim Ed Brown and his sisters Maxine and Bonnie. Their career began in the late-fifties and spanned the sixties. During that period, they released songs like Three Bells and the heartbreaking Send Me The Pillow That You Slept On. However, The Browns played their part in the changing face of country music.

Disc Three-Lonesome Number One.

Even someone with only a passing interest in country music will have heard of many of the names of disc three. The great and the good of country music are present. This includes Patsy Cline, with her timeless classic Crazy. That sets the bar high for the other twenty-four tracks. 

No worries though. The quality keeps on coming. Connie Hall, one of country music’s best female vocalists, contributes two tracks, Love’s Been Good To Me and the heartbreaking I’m As Lonely As Anyone Can Be. There’s even more heartbreak on Patti Page’s Go On Home. She delivers a spine-tingling vocal. It’s needy, hopeful and full of sadness and regret. That’s not the end of emotion.

It continues on Jim Reeves’ Losing Your Love, George Jones’ Tender Years, Burl Ives’ A Little Bitty Tear and Stonewall Jackson’s A Wound Time Can’t Erase. Stonewall makes the lyrics real. Later, we encounter  a rueful Billy Walker on Funny How Time Slips Away and Charlie’s Shoes. A heartbroken Hawkshaw Hawkins delivers I Can’t Seem To Say Goodbye. Emotive and heartfelt, it’s one of the best vocals on disc three. 

Some artists feature twice on disc three. This includes Don Gibson. Given he’s a legend of country music, this is fitting. He contributes Sea Of Heartbreak and Lonesome Number One. Sea Of Heartbreak is one of Don’s finest hours. Slim Whitman features twice. His contribution are The Old Spinning Wheel and Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain. Hank Locklin contributes You’re The Reason and Happy Journey. Things get even better though. Willie Nelson delivers Touch Me. He then duets with Shirley Collie on Willingly. Over fifty years later, Willie Nelson is still going strong and is the grand old man of country music.

Disc Four-She Thinks I Still Care.

The only way to describe disc two of The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era, is littered with legends of country music. Patsy Cline, the First Lady of country’s golden era. So, it’s fitting that she contributes She’s Got You and When I Get Thru With You (You’ll Love Me Too). They’re a tantalising taste of a true country legend. It’s as if she lived the songs she sung. Brenda Lee is another the best known female country singers. She delivers a soul-baring vocal on All Alone Am I. It’s a beautiful song full of heartbreak. One of the most beautiful and heartbreaking songs is Skeeter Davis’ version of The End Of The World. She returns to duet with Porter Wagoner on There’s Always One (Who Loves You A Lot) and My Greatest Weakness. Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee and Skeeter Davis’ career benefitted from the changes in country music. They became huge stars. Later, so did Dolly Parton.

There’s two tracks from a young Dolly Parton. She was just sixteen when she released The Love You Gave as a single. Her voice has yet to mature, as she sings call and response, fusing country and pop. Tucked away on the B-Side is It’s Sure Gonna Hurt, a full of heartache and hurt. Although Dolly’s career began as country’s golden era ended, she would go on to become a superstar. So did a number of other country singers.

This included Charlie Rich. He became one of the biggest names in country music. His contribution is the wonderfully maudlin Sittin And Thinkin’, which he recorded in 1962. Glen Campbell’s career was in its infancy as country’s golden era ended. Just like Charlie Rich, that didn’t stop him becoming one of country music’s biggest names. Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry and Long Black Limousine were a hint of what he was capable of. However, some artists career’s began during country music’s golden era and lasted several decades.

That’s the case with several artists on disc four. One of them is Marty Robbins, who contributes Devil Women. He enjoyed a longevity, many artists would be envious of. So did George Jones. His worldweary voice is perfect for She Thinks I Still Care and A Girl I Used To Know. Jimmy Dean, who contributes The Cajun Queen and Pt 109 enjoyed a career that spanned four decades. His two contributions are a fusion of country’s old and new sounds.

Whether you’re a veteran or newcomer to country music, there will be plenty to interest you on The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era. There’s contributions from some of the biggest names in country music. These tracks are taken from the golden age of country music. 

It began in 1955 and lasted until 1962. During that period, some of the greatest country music ever recorded was recorded by legends like Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, George Jones, Charlie Rich, Marty Robbins, Skeeter Davis, Don Gibson and Brenda Lee. There’s even contributions from a sixteen year old Dolly Parton and Glen Campbell, as his career got underway. Each of these artists feature on the four discs within The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era, which was recently released  by Proper Records.

The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era is no ordinary box set. Far from it. It features ninety-nine tracks spread over four discs. There’s also extensive sleeve-notes and a detailed discography. It’s obvious that a lot of time, effort and care has gone into compiling The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era. On each disc, is a combination of classics and hidden gems. They all have one thing in common, their quality. That’s why, whether you’re a veteran of country compilations or a newcomer to country music, then The Nashville Sound-Country Music’s Golden Era is the perfect reminder of country music’s golden era. 

THE NASHVILLE SOUND-COUNTRY MUSIC’S GOLDEN ERA.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks Derek. Pleased to have found you here and to read this review. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (see g jones obit).

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