BEATin’ on Country Music Compilation

Bear Family Records has released a compilation featuring 1960s beat groups performing Country music-associated songs. Featuring bands from all over the world, is this 30-track CD worth picking up?

The liner notes here make reference to the idea of the Country music and Beat music world having little common ground. However, there are plenty of instances in which music that shares DNA with the Beat movement can trace a direct line back to more traditional sources. For example, a well-known song which has been taken forward itself into the rock world, The Wild Side of Life, owes its melody to a song made famous by The Carter Family, I Am Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes. The link between heavier and more frantic areas of music and its earlier, seemingly gentler roots, is a strong one.

Take a number like Mohair Sam, covered here by Lee Curtis and the All Stars: its originator was Charlie Rich, a performer who moved from the rock and roll field into country music as his career progressed. Similiarly there is Irish folk tune Danny Boy: popularised by Conway Twitty, who also successfully graduated to Country music royalty following his early Rock and Roll successes.

Therefore when this compilation opens with You Are My Sunshine, it immediately works. Beat music took elements from various genres, Country included: a fact which may have surprised visiting musicians from the Nashville scene. Various Country stars expressed incredulity over the enthusiasm shown by British and European audiences for their genre. This collection of tracks perhaps backs up how palatable the American amalgamation of folk music of various nations’ origins is to a European ear.

In this case, the musical progression makes complete sense. Perhaps as a collection of tracks then, the title link is somewhat tenuous. But in fairness, the tracks do have enough in common with each other musically to make sense. It is a track listing which is perfectly pleasant to listen to, with most numbers being very familiar to a listener of various genres.

Of course, there are numbers here which are already better known in their Beat/Rock and Roll style, such as The Nashville Teens’ Tobacco Road. Some other tracks feel like a sort of impersonation, such as Johnny Sandon performing Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons – although this is fun in its own way. So many familiar songs here also make this compilation very listenable.

A Little Something Extra…

Inside a nicely printed digipak is a 26-page booklet featuring liner notes by Roland Heinrich. It features information on the bands and songs, alongside rare photographs and illustrations. As usual, it all helps to add context to the recordings.


  1. Alex Harvey & His Soul Band – You Are My Sunshine
  2. The Downliners Sect – Above And Beyond
  3. The Searchers – Hey Joe
  4. King Size Taylor & The Dominoes – Ruby Ann
  5. Lee Curtis & The All Stars – Mohair Sam
  6. Jerry Williams & The Violents – Darling Nelly Grey
  7. The Poor Things – Danny Boy
  8. Sonny Webb & The Cascades – Who Shot Sam
  9. Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas – Tennessee Waltz
  10. The Spencer Davis Group – Georgia On My Mind
  11. Jimmy & The Rackets – Stick With Me Baby
  12. The Merseybeats – Fools Like Me
  13. The Nashville Teens – Tobacco Road
  14. Johnny Sandon – Sixteen Tons
  15. Mike Sheridan & The Nightriders – Lonely Weekends
  16. The Hollies – Candy Man
  17. Mike Warner & The New Stars – I Wonder If I Care As Much
  18. Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs – Devoted To You
  19. The Downliners Sect – Midnight Specials
  20. Tommy Quickly & The Remo Four – The Wild Side of Life
  21. Didi & His ABC Boys – Greenback Dollar
  22. The Incrowd – I’ll Make It All Up To You
  23. The Searchers – Sea of Heartbreak
  24. Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs – Half as Much
  25. Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers – Jambalaya
  26. Tony & The Initials – Knee Deep In The Blues
  27. The Lords – Tobacco Road (German)
  28. The Downliners Sect – Wreck of the Old ’97
  29. Mike Warner & The New Stars – I Walk The Line
  30. The Bobby Patrick Big Six – Your Cheatin’ Heart


If you are a devotee of Beat music, do not be put off by the idea of the groups here covering country music. This collection just serves to prove that the simpler forms of popular music owe much to their ancestors in folk, and therefore work equally well with emphasis on one set of musical elements and techniques as another.

The augmentation from Country into Beat simply displayed a kind of foundation for many successful musical transitions. A definite interchangeability can be heard here: the styles can morph back and forth into one another. When the lyrics, imagery and melody are as strong as so many Country and Folk standards are, these songs can float between genres seamlessly.

BEATin’ On Country Music is a respectable compilation of Beat groups, covering many well-known songs. As an avid classic Country enthusiast, I would not immediately recommend these covers to another Country fan. However, BEATin’ On Country Music should sit alongside Bear Family‘s other Beat content very nicely.

BEATin’ on Country Music is available from Bear Family Records and Amazon.

BEATin' On Country Music




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