THE BEGINNING OF THE END: THE EXISTENTIAL PSYCHODRAMA IN COUNTRY MUSIC (1956-1972).

The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972)

Label: The Iron Mountain Analogue Research.

Across the world, staff at record label had been working hard for many months on nearly 500 reissues and lovingly curated compilations, which were due to be released on the ‘21st’ of April 2018 which was For Records Store Day. For many record buyers, this is one of the highlights of the year, and some are willing to camp outside their favourite record shop in the hope that they can secure their lengthy wish-list of reissues and compilations. This has become something of a tradition in recent years, and there’s a degree of community spirit as they queue during the wee small hours of the morning. However, as the time comes for record shops to open, suddenly, the atmosphere changes, and it’s a case of every man or woman for themselves. 

Suddenly, as the doors open, the once orderly queue lurches forward, and people try gain an advantage over the person next to them, as they attempt to find every reissue and compilation on their wish-list. For many this included the two compilations of country music released by the Australian label, The Iron Mountain Analogue Research Facility, including The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1974). It was billed as” “sixteen tales of existential angst wrought from backwoods outsiders and Nashville Misfits,” and was a compilation many people were keen to add to their collection. There was only one problem, finding a copy, as only 500 albums had been pressed. 

Sadly, many people struggled to find a copy of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1974) and were left disappointed. However, not any more with the recent release of an expanded  CD version of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972) which features thirty tracks. It seems that those that didn’t find a copy on Record Store Day are having the last laugh, and aren’t faced with buying the same album all over again to enjoy the fourteen extra tracks.

Having said that, it’s well worth buying the CD copy of  The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972) even if you’ve got one of the 500 copies of the vinyl version released for Record Store Day 2018. The newly expanded CD version features songs from the likes of Whitey Gallagher, Bobby Grove, Jimmy Griggs, Ed Bruce, Ray Sanders, Billy Rufus, George Kent, Johnny Dollar, Lonnie Holt, Tex Wayne and Bob Fry. There’s also tracks from David Price, Clay Hart, George Kent, Dave Dudley, Tony Gavin and Rube Gallagher on the CD version of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1974), which is a reminder of what was a golden age for country music.

Tennessee born Whitey Gallagher opens The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972) with Searching (I’m Always Looking, which was the B-Side of his 1967 single for Republic, Gotta Roam. Searching (I’m Always Looking) features a jaunty arrangement and a vocal that is a mixture of frustration, sadness and angst. So much so, it’s as if Whitey Gallagher has lived the lyrics he’s singing, during this powerful example of existential psychodrama in country music.

Another is Bobby Grove’s Whistle At The End Of The Gravy Train, which was the B-Side of his single To Protect The Innocent which was released on King in January 1957. Louise Webb penned which Whistle At The End Of The Gravy Train which features a soul-baring vocal that that bristles with emotion from the man from Worley, Kentucky.

When RCA Victor, which was home to many of the biggest names in country music, signed Jim Ed Brown in 1965, they had had high hopes for their newest signing. Three years later, Jim Ed Brown was paired with producer Felton Jarvis when he recorded The Enemy. It was released April 1968, and reached number thirteen in the US Billboard 100. That is no surprise given the quality of the single. It’s a mixture of drama and emotion as Jim Ed Brown paints pictures of The Enemy that taunts and haunts him.

Ed Bruce was born in Keiser, Arkansas, in 1929, and by the time  he released Song For Ginny as a single in December 1968, was signed to the Monument label. Tucked away on the B-Side was the Sandy Neese composition Puzzles, which was produced by Fred Foster. When Ed Bruce of his album Shades Of Ed Bruce in 1969, it also featured Puzzles which features an angst ridden vocal 

Eight years after releasing his debut single in 1958, Ray Sanders released My World Is Upside Down in May 1966. It was penned by Ron Mason and is a Bettye Jean Production that was released on Tower. It’s a poignant track that features a hurt filled vocal full where the heartbreak seems very real.

Billy Rufus’ 1967 single Low Down Blues which was produced by John Capps and released on K-Ark Records. It’s a hard luck story from the honky-tonk where everything that could go wrong for  Billy Rufus does.

Sammi Smith from Oklahoma City, opens side two with the ballad Saunders Ferry Lane, which produced by Jim Malloy and was released as a single on Mega Records in August 1971. Sadly, Saunders Ferry Lane which was taken from Sammi Smith’s 1971 album Help Me Make It Through The Night failed to trouble the charts. Saunders Ferry Lane which is a beautiful poignant ballad was the one that got away for Sammi Smith.

In 1969, Johnny Dollar released a cover Liz Anderson’s Meeting Of The Bored as a single on Chart Records. This was a song from his album Big Rig Rollin’ Man which was also released in 1969. During Johnny Dollar’s almost raucous version of Meeting Of The Bored, it sounds as if he’s enjoyed a drop of something golden to wash away the angst and heartbreak.

Singer-songwriter Curly Putman was born in Princeton, Alabama, and by 1969 was signed to ABC Record and released his sophomore album World Of Country Music. It featured Talking To The Grass where angst is omnipresent as he delivers a vocal that is akin to a confessional.

Lonnie Holt released a cover of Paul Bowman’s Water Under The Bridge as a single on the Tennessee-based Breeze Records in 1970. Sadly, this rueful sounding single was one of a trio of singles Lonnie Holt released. 

Tex Wayne was born Guy Costello in Duncan, Oklahoma, 1933, and in February 1960, released I’d Climb The Highest Mountain as a single. Tucked away on the B-Side was Deep Deep Blue, which is a hidden gem that features a ruminative sounding vocal.

When Bob Fry released What A Pity on the Maryland based Rebel label in 1965, I’m Gonna Be Gone was on the B-Side. He’s accompanied by a fiddle and steel guitar, as he warns his partner: “you can’t have your cake and eat it.”Having fired this warning shot, he tells her: “I’m Gonna Be Gone” during what’s one of the highlights of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972).

Clay Hart contributes two tracks including the angst ridden version of Wine, The River And You which was released was released as a single on the Hickory label in November 1967. Two years later, Clay Hart released the album Spring on Metromedia Records, which featured an almost hopeful version of Free. These two tracks are a reminder of a vastly underrated country singer and guitarist.

Gene Savage released I Started At The Bottom And Worked My Way On Down as a single on the Vance label in 1965. It features a vocal that is full of despair as he lays bare his soul for all to hear.

When Jimmy Griggs released The Beginning Of The End as a single on the Boot Heel label in 1971, it featured Footprints In The Sands Of Time on the B-Side. It’s a Jerry McBee composition that was produced by Moe Lytle. He’s responsible for a carefully crafted production that is the perfect accompaniment to Jimmy Griggs’ rueful vocal as he reflects on what he once had.

In January 1972,  George Kent released It Takes A Drinking Man (To Sing A Drinking Song) as a single. Tucked away on the B-Side was Running With The Wind which was written by Roy Bayum. It features an understated arrangement with a contemporary country sound, where a  weeping guitar provides the backdrop for George Kent’s vocal which is akin to a confessional.

Rube Gallagher’s Searching closes the CD version of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972). It was written by Marylon Thidor and released on the Ohio-based One-Way label in 1967. The way Rube Gallagher delivers the lyrics to Searching, it’s as if he’s experienced the hurt and heartbreak on this existential psychodrama from Nashville USA. 

These eighteen tracks are just part of the story of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972), which has just been released on CD by The Iron Mountain Analogue Research, and features thirty tracks. This is fourteen more the limited edition vinyl release of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1974) that was released for Record Store Day 2018.

Only 500 copies of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1974) were released by The Iron Mountain Analogue Research and finding a copy of  won’t be easy. It was a hugely popular release, with supply exceeding demand. Fortunately, the new CD version is the other way to discover one of the country music compilations released in the last few years. Sadly, though, there’s a but.

The CD version of  The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972) is currently only available as an import and copies are difficult to find. However, if a compilation is worth searching for it’s the new CD version of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-19722) which features thirty tracks. This is fourteen more than on the LP released for Record Store Day 2018, and even those that bought a copy on vinyl will want to add copy of the CD version of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972) to their collection.

The fourteen tracks that have been added to the CD version of The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1974) improve what was already one of the best compilations of 2018. The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972) is a lovingly curated compilation that features a mixture of singles, B-Sides and hidden gems that were recorded by: “backwoods outsiders and Nashville Misfits,” and are a glorious reminder of the golden era of country music.

The Beginning Of The End: The Existential Psychodrama In Country Music (1956-1972).

 

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