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Blue Sky Boys, Very Best of Classic Country Remastered

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 5:33 pm
by Gordon Neill
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Until a few days ago, I hadn’t even heard of the Blue Sky Boys, never mind heard anything by them. But, prompted by some superlatives in the recent obituary thread for Bill Bolick, I took a chance on this bulk purchase. 5 CDs was more than I wanted, but it was cheap (though not cheerful).

Charlie described the music of the Blue Sky Boys as the ‘motherlode’ and there’s certainly a load of mother songs here. ‘Angel Mother’, ‘Little Mother of the Hills’, ‘A Mother’s Smile’, ‘Shake Hands With Your Mother Today’, ‘I love Her More Now Mother’s Old’. My hopes were raised briefly by ‘We Buried Her’, but she’s a tough old cookie and continues to feature in ‘Hymns My Mother Sang’, ‘Mother Went Her Holiness Way’, and ‘Since the Angels Took My Mother’. When it comes to mother, mum isn’t the word. For variety, we get ‘I’m Going To Write To Heaven (For I Know My Daddy’s There)’.

The song titles tell you that we’re not dealing with the raucous side of country here. There’s no boozing or loose women here (probably scared off by mother). So far, I haven’t come across any intentional jokes. This is dead straight, down beat country and god-fearing gospel, mostly from the 30s and 40s. Instrumentation is guitar and mandolin, with an added fiddle on the later recordings. And the sound is dominated by the glorious harmony singing. But there isn’t a great deal of variety here, with the mood running the full gamut of emotions from M to M (maudlin to mournful). Listen and weep. Just don’t stick it on your party mix.

But there is actually a lot to enjoy here. This is subtle and intense music and it takes a while to acclimatise to the jolly glum lyrics Yes, it is musical melancholy, but that rather appeals to me. And there’s a great deal of finesse and beauty about the harmony singing. I don’t know anything about the origins of these 121 songs, but I’m very confident that there’s some Scottish DNA behind all this dismal doom and gloom. Based on a fairly quick run through this massive set (it would take weeks to absorb the full range of depression), ‘Turn Your Radio On’ is the most immediately attractive track. But there are plenty of other treasures. I was also struck with ‘Down On the Banks of the Ohio’, a song I’ve only heard before from the fragrant Olivia Newton John. The Blue Sky Boy’s take is genuinely chilling, with its matter of fact delivery.

I would still have preferred to have found a more concise single CD set. But, at around £15, I’m not complaining. Mother probably wouldn't approve of folks that complain.

Re: Blue Sky Boys, Very Best of Classic Country Remastered

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:56 am
by Charlie
Gordon Neill wrote:So far, I haven’t come across any intentional jokes. .

'S-A-V-E-D' is funny in a deadpan, Buster Keaton sort of way, Gordon, a precursor of 'D-I-V-O-R-C-E'.

I think that 'Are You From Dixie?' was my favourite back in the 70s, and it might still be. There are some lovely lists of American States, to which I have always been helpless vulnerable.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:27 pm
by uiwangmike
Disc 2, Track 23 is Rex Griffin's The Last Letter. a song that Norman expressed some curiosity about a few months ago.