LONESOME HIGHWAY-AN ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN SONGS OF THE ROAD.

LONESOME HIGHWAY-AN ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN SONGS OF THE ROAD.

The automobile is one of the most celebrated of American institutions. That’s been the case for nearly 100 years. Right back to the days of the blues, the automobile and the highways they travel down, have been celebrated by musicians.

That’s the case on Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road. It’s a four disc celebration of the automobile and highway from Proper Box. They released Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road on 25th May 2015. A total of 100 songs feature on Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road. There’s everything from bluegrass, blues, country, folk, gospel, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll on Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road. It’s a celebration of American music. This celebration begins back in the days of the delta bluesmen.

Disc One.

Just like each of the four discs on Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road, there’ a total of twenty-five tracks. This includes some of the biggest names in blues music. 

From the days of the delta blues, bluesmen like Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Memphis Minnie and Sleepy John Estes celebrated and romanticised both the automobile and the highway. It spawned a wealth of material. Some of it features on disc one of Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road.

Lemon Jefferson’s Booger Rooger Blues opens disc one. His other contribution is D B Blues. He’s the first giant of the blues. Others include Ramblin’ Thomas,  Robert Johnson,  Sleepy John Estes and Charley Patton,

Many people won’t have heard of Ramblin’ Thomas, who was born Willard Thomas, in Logansport, Louisiana. He wasn’t a prolific musician. Far from it. However, tracks like   Hard To Rule Woman Blues showcase a talented, and underrated musician. While many people won’t have heard of  Ramblin’ Thomas, they’ll have heard of  Robert Johnson.  

Two of Robert Johnson’s classic tracks feature on disc one. Terraplane Blues and Cross Road Blues show why Robert Johnson is regarded as King Of The Delta Blues. Sleepy John Estes by comparison, sometimes, doesn’t receive the recognition he deserves. He also features twice. Poor Man’s Friend (T-Model) and Brownsville Blues show why blues connoisseurs hold Sleepy John Estes in such high regard. The same goes for Charley Patton. His only contribution  is Down The Dirt Road Blues. It’s the perfect introduction to The Masked Marvel. However, there’s more to disc one that blues music. 

There’s also country and folk music on disc one. When it comes to country music, three tracks stand out. This includes Roy Acuff’s Automobile Of Life, W.Lee O’Daniel and His Hillbilly Boys’ Lonesome Road Blues and Cliff Bruner and His Boys’ Truck Driver’s Blues. These tracks are an essential soundtrack to any road trip. So is a track by a legend of American music.

Legend is an oft-overused track. Not in the case of Woody Guthrie. He was born in 1912, and was a prolific songwriter and political activist. When he died in 1967, Woody Guthrie left behind a rich musical legacy, including Blowin’ Down This Road. It’s a fitting addition to disc one of Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road, and like other twenty-four tracks, whets your appetite for disc two.

Disc Two.

Some of the artists that feature on disc one, feature on disc two of Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road. This includes Roy Acuff  and Woody Guthrie. Roy Acuff contributes Wreck On The Highway and There’s A Big Rock In The Road, while Woody Guthrie’s contributions are This Land Is Your Land and Car Song. Given how important their contribution to music was, and the quality of the tracks, this can be forgiven. However, they’re not the only big names on disc two.

Nat King Cole makes an appearance, contributing (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66. Hank Williams, one of the legends of country music features twice. Lost Highway and I’ve Been Down That Road Before are a reminder of a giant of country music, who tragically died aged just twenty-nine. By then, Hank had more than made his mark on country music. The same can be said of Hank Snow.

Canadian country singer Hank Snow enjoyed a lengthy career,  living until he was eighty-five. He released  over sixty singles and 100 albums. In 1950, Hank released The Golden Rocket. On the flip side was Paving The Highway With Tears, a true hidden gem, that’s a reminder of the man they called The Country Ranger. Similarly, Travelin’ This Lonesome Road shows bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe at his groundbreaking best. Away from bluegrass and country, there’s much more to discover on disc two.

This includes a healthy serving of the blues. What better way to start is with two tracks from one of the biggest names in blues, John Lee Hooker. He contributes Highway Blues and Road Trouble. Lightnin’Hopkins contributes his single for Prestige, Automobile Blues, the B-Side of Lightnin’Hopkins. Apart from blues, there’s a myriad of musical delights on disc two.

There’s the R&B courtesy of Roy Brown’s Cadillac Baby is. Then’s there’s two gospel cuts. This includes The Pilgrim Travellers’ I’m Standing On The Highway and The Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi contribute Jesus Traveled This Road Before. However, one of my favourite tracks from disc two is Dick Reinhart’s 1948 single Hot Rod Baby. This was one of just two singles Dick Reinhart released on Columbia. Just like the rest of disc two, it’s the reminder of another age, and the perfect soundtrack to a musical road trip.

Disc Three.

It’s not just blues and country on disc three of Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road. Far from it. There’s R&B and rockabilly. This makes disc three just as eclectic as the first two. 

There’s not as much blues on disc three. What blues there is, is electric blues. It comes courtesy of some blues’ legends. Howlin’ Wolf contributes Mr. Highwayman, Johnny Guitar Watson Motor Head Baby and Lowell Fulson  Let Me Ride In Your Little Automobile. These three tracks show how blues music was evolving. It was a very different genre from the days of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson. Just as the blues was changing, so was country music.

Country duo, Flatt and Scruggs recording career began in 1950, and lasted right through to the early seventies. During that period, they were prolific recording artists, releasing over thirty-studio albums and thirty singles. Despite this, many people are unfamiliar with their music. So it’s fitting that I’m Working On A Road (To Glory Land) and Don’t This Road Look Rough And Rocky feature on disc three. They’re not the only country cuts on disc three.

Another of country music’s biggest names of the forties and fifties features on disc two, Bob Willis. Two of the singles with His Texas Playboys are included. This includes 1953s single Hubbin’ It and 1954s Cadillac In Model “A”. Other country cuts include Shorty Rogers’ A Mile Down The Highway (There’s A Toll Bridge), Ray Smith’s Lonesome Truck Driver’s Blues and Tillman Franks and His Rainbow Boys’ Hot Rod Shotgun Boogie #2. While country music was popular during the fifties, a change was gonna come.

A new breed of musicians were about to make their presence felt. This include R&B and rock ’n’ rollers like Little Richard, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. They would all go on to play in important part in the birth of rock ’n’ roll.

So it’s fitting that Little Richard’s 1951 debut single Taxi Blues features on disc three. So does Bo Diddley’s 1960 classic Roadrunner. It’s one of two tracks from Bo Diddley. The other is Cadillac. Then there’s two tracks from Chuck Berry. This includes his 1955 classic Maybellene and No Money Down. Each of these tracks show just how music was changing.  Rock ’n’ roll has just been born as as we approach disc four of Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road.

Disc Four.

By disc four of  Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road, the musical landscape has changed. The birth of rock ’n’ roll was a game-changer. So much so, that the delta blues on disc one seems a reminder of forgone musical age.

Good as the three previous discs are, disc four literally oozes quality. That’s the case from Gene Vincent’s Race With The Devil and Pink Thunderbird. The future member of the rock ’n’ roll hall of fame, starts disc one with a bang. From there, Jerry Lee Lewis contributes End Of The Road and Bobby “Blue” Bland Further Up The Road. Even after four songs, eclectic is the best way to describe the music.

That continues to be the case. There’s some rockabilly courtesy of Vince Taylor’s Brand New Cadillac. This was the B-Side to his 1959 single Pledging My Love. Another flip side is Howard W. Brady’s Hot Rod Boogie. This was the B-Side to Weary Walkin’ Blues. While neither of these tracks will be familiar to most people, they’re worthy additions. So are other tracks on disc four.

This includes The King Of Rockabilly, Carl Perkins. His contribution is a Pop, Let Me Have The Car. It was the B-Side to Carl’s 1958 single Levi Jacket (And A Long Tail Shirt). Pop, Let Me Have The Car is another hidden gem, and shows just why, Carl Perkins was crowned The King Of Rockabilly. That’s despite the competition being fierce.

There were many contenders to Carl Perkins’ crown. Some singers enjoyed a degree of longevity, releasing a string of singles. Not Bobby Johnston. His single Flat Tire passed most people by. Since then, it’s become a firm favourite among the rockabilly and hot rod community. The same can be said of Ray Burden’s 1960 single Hot Rodder’s Dream. It was released on the Adonis label and has become something of a collector’s item. The same can be said of a number of tracks on disc four.

Among them are the 1959 single from Duane Eddy and His “Twangy” Guitar And The Rebels’ Forty Miles Of Bad Road. It showcases Duane’s distinctive guitar sound. Similarly distinctive is the piano playing on Chuck Berry’s Jaguar And The Thunderbird. It features one of the original rockers, as Chuck Berry delivers a strutting vocal. A very different style of vocal closes disc four of Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road.

It comes courtesy of Glen Campbell’s slow, country-tinged vocal on his 1962 single Long Black Limousine. Glen’s vocal is full of sadness and emotion, as he brings the lyrics to life. Even then, it was obvious he was destined for greatness.

That was the case with many of the artists on Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road. They would go on to reach even greater heights, and become some of the most influential musicians in the history of American music. That’s the case from Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, through to Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent and Glen Campbell. Still their music continues to influence  generation of musicians. That’s not all. Their music is being enjoyed by another generation of music lover. They’ve the opportunity to discover music by each and every one of these artists on Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road.

Proper Box released Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road on 25th May 2015. It’s a musical celebration of an American institution, the automobile, and the highways they travel down. This is fitting, given the role the highway has played in music’s history.

From the days of the delta bluesmen, musicians have travelled the highways of America. Even today, bands traverse the highways and byways of America in everything from beaten up vans, to luxurious coaches. It’s almost a rite of passage for bands. Each band has their own musical soundtrack. What would be fitting was, if it was Lonesome Highway-An Anthology Of American Songs Of The Road, which celebrates several generations of musicians, who took the same journey.

LONESOME HIGHWAY-AN ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN SONGS OF THE ROAD.

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