CHARLIE GILLETT’S RADIO PICKS-HONKY TONK VOLUME 2.

CHARLIE GILLETT’S RADIO PICKS-HONKY TONK VOLUME 2.

Music was Charlie Gillett’s life. He literally lived for music. It was his passion. As a result, Charlie had an encyclopaedic and eclectic knowledge of music. That was apparent to listeners to his radio show Honky Tonk, which first hit Radio London’s airwaves in 1972. 

Soon, Charlie was educating his listeners musically. He introduced them to an eclectic selection of music. Each night, listeners to Honky Tonk had no idea what musical delights Charlie had in store for them. What they did know, was that by the end of the show, Charlie would’ve introduced them to something new. That was the case each each week. Week in, week out, Charlie Gillett introduced his listeners to new music. Eventually, Charlie became a musical institution. So, it’s no surprise that Charlie was asked to compile a compilation.

The only surprise was, that it took until 2009. On the 2nd November 2009, Ace Records released Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks From Honky Tonk. It was an intriguing and eclectic selection of music. Joe South, J.J. Cale, Bobby Charles, Dale Hawkins, Bruce Channel, Eddy Raven, Dire Straits and Tabou Combo sat side-by-side on Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks From Honky Tonk. It proved a successful compilation. Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks From Honky Tonk sold well. So in early 2010, Ace Records announced there would be a followup.

So Charlie began work on the followup, which would become Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2, which was recently released by Ace Records. Charlie through himself into the project. This wasn’t work. No. It was a labor of love for Charlie. After all, Charlie was passionate about music. However, out of nowhere, tragedy struck.

By early 2010, Charlie became unwell. The prognosis wasn’t good. He didn’t have long to live. For Charlie and his family, this was a huge blow. Despite the tragedy of the situation, Charlie was determined to finish what became Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2. There was a problem though.

Charlie hadn’t decided on a final track listing. He had a list of 106 songs. This isn’t unusual. A compiler always starts with a long list, and will whittle the list down to a short list. The short list will always include a few extra tracks, because often, clearance won’t be given for tracks. Sadly, Charlie didn’t get as far as compiling a short list. Charlie Gillett died on 17th March 2010. The death of Charlie Gillett looked like the end of Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Roger Armstrong, who Charlie Gillett worked with on Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks From Honky Tonk decided to finish the project they’d started would be Roger Armstrong’s tribute to the late, great, Charlie Gillett.

Roger began with Charlie’s list of 106 songs, and gradually, whittled them down to twenty-five tracks. There’s contributions from Tom T. Hall, Archie Bleyer, Roy Buchanan, Marty Robbins, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, Ricky Nelson, Betty Wright, Professor Longhair and The Blue Scholars and Rico. The format is the same as Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks From Honky Tonk. This means a song that was current when Charlie was presenting Honky Tonk, is followed by an oldie. Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2, which I’ll pick the highlights of, is a truly eclectic compilation. Everything from blues, country, folk, funk, rock and soul features on Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2.

Opening Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2 is a track from country singer, Tom T. Hall. Tulsa Telephone Book is a track from Tom’s fifth album In Search Of A Song. It was released on Mercury in 1971.  Tom wrote Tulsa Telephone Book, a tale of hurt and heartbreak, that’s straight out of Nashville.

Travis Wammack is another country singer. Born in Memphis, he’s a guitarist, singer and songwriter, who recorded his debut aged twelve. By the time he released his sophomore album, Not For Sale in 1975, Travis was almost a veteran. Not For Sale was released on Capricorn Records and featured (Shu-Do-Pa-Poo-Poop) Love Being Your Fool, a hook-laden slice of country music. This is the perfect showcase for the multitalented Travis Wammack. 

Billy Swan’s I Can Help doesn’t sound like a single released in 1974. Instead, it sounds as if it should’ve been release ten or fifteen years earlier. In many ways, it was an unlikely hit single in 1974. However, it was a huge hit single, one that Charlie Gillett championed. It was released on Monument, and reached number one in the US Billboard 100 and US Country charts. That’s not all. It also gave Billy a top hit throughout Europe. I  Can Help also became the title of Billy’s debut album. Released in 1974, this was the first of six albums Billy Swan released. However, Billy never again, reached the heights of I Can Help.

Roy Buchanan was, without doubt, one of the greatest blues guitarists of his generation. Born in 1939, he died tragically in 1988. He left behind a rich musical legacy. This includes  his eponymous debut album Roy Buchanan,which was released  in 1972, on Polydor. It features Sweet Dreams, which features a beautiful blues’ masterclass from Roy Buchanan.

Canadian singer-songwriters Kate and Anna McGarrigle were folk royalty. The Quebec born duo spent thirty-five years making music. This came to an end in 2010, with Kate’s death. However, back in 1975, Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s recording career was just just about to begin. They released their eponymous debut album, Kate and Anna McGarrigle on Warner Bros. Records. This was just the start of a long and successful career, which saw Kate and Anna become Canada’s most successful folk group.

In New New Orleans, Irma Thomas is known as the Soul Queen Of New Orleans. No wonder. She’s been making music since 1959. In 1963, Irma Thomas was signed to Minit Records, and recorded Ruler Of My Heart. This was a song written by Allen Toussaint, using his Naomi Neville alias. Ruler Of My Heart is the perfect showcase for Irma. She delivers a vocal that veers between heartfelt and tender to powerful and sultry. Given the quality of this single, it’s no surprise Irma was crowned the Soul Queen Of New Orleans.

My favourite track from Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2 is, without doubt, Dr. John’s Such A Night. It’s is a track from Dr. John’s 1973 album In The Right Place. It was released on Atco, during a period where the charismatic, Night Tripper at the peak of his powers. The time Dr. John spent at Atco was his most productive. That’s where he released the best music of his career. This includes In The Right Place, Dr. John’s biggest selling album, which reached number twenty-four in the US Billboard 200 and number twenty-eight in the US R&B charts. For newcomers to Dr. John’s music, Such A Night is bound to make you delve deeper into the Night Tripper’s back-catalogue.

Dennis Turner released Lover Please back in 1962. This was cover of a track penned by Billy Swan. It was originally recorded by The Rhythm Steppers and then covered by Dennis Turner. Sadly, Dennis’ version wasn’t a commercial success, sinking without trace. Another ten years passed, before Charlie Gillett picked up on Dennis Turner’s cover of Lover Please. He played it on Honky Tonky. Belatedly, Lover Please was heard by the wider audience that it deserved.

Clean Up Woman is one of the finest moments of Betty Wright’s career. Released in 1971, Betty was just eighteen when Clean Up Woman was released on Alston Records. It reached number six in the US Billboard 100 and number two in the US Billboard R&B charts. Since then, Clean Up Woman has become a soul classic. A year later, Clean Up Woman featured on Betty’s sophomore album I Love The Way You Love. Forty-two years later, and Betty Wright is still making music. However, she never again reached the heights of Clean Up Woman.

Professor Longhair is a legend of New Orleans music. He’s influenced several generation of New Orleans’ musicians. This includes Dr. John, who also recorded Tipitina. However,  Professor Longhair and The Blue Scholars recorded Tipitina first, back in 1954. It’s a tantalising taste of what Professor Longhair is capable.

Rico’s Ramble closes Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2. For those unfamiliar with Rico, back in the sixties, he was the finest trombonist in Jamaica. His recording career began in 1961. By 1977, Rico had released his third album Wareika Dub. One of its highlights is the laid-back Ramble, which proves the perfect way to close Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2.

For anyone looking to buy just one compilation this week, then Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2 is the one to choose. It’s a truly eclectic compilation, where everything from blues, country, folk, funk, reggae, rock and soul sits side-by-side. There’s contributions from Tom T. Hall, Archie Bleyer, Roy Buchanan, Marty Robbins, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, Ricky Nelson, Betty Wright, Professor Longhair and The Blue Scholars and Rico. The format is the same as Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks From Honky Tonk. This means a song that was current when Charlie was presenting Honky Tonk, is followed by an oldie. That’s the same format as Honky Tonk, Charlie Gillett’s much missed musical institution.

Honky Tonk, on Radio London, was where people went to complete their musical education. Charlie Gillett introduced them to an eclectic selection of musical delights. It was a case of anything goes. Album tracks, classics and hidden gems featured on Honky Tonk. They were introduced by the man with an encyclopaedic, and eclectic, knowledge of music, Charlie Gillett. He loved, and lived for, music. It was his passion. That was apparent to listeners to his radio show, Honky Tonk, which first hit Radio London’s airwaves in 1972. A reminder of that much missed musical institution Honky Tonk, is Charlie Gillett’s Radio Picks-Honky Tonk Volume 2, which was recently released by Ace Records.

CHARLIE GILLETT’S RADIO PICKS-HONKY TONK VOLUME 2.

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