Continuing their Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight series, Bear Family Records brings a collection from two well-known record labels. From the Vaults of Decca & Coral shines a light on the tradition of lightly contemporary, western swing and hillbilly music; loosely referred to as Country Boogie. Does this collection deserve a place among the previous releases in the same series?
The opening track, “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy”, sets the mood brilliantly. Immediately we get a feel which is a mixture falling somewhere between light jazz and hillbilly music. The vocal performances, shuffling drums and “honky-tonk” pianos give us a contemporary feel for the time, while the fiddles and guitars put us with a toe or two in western swing and country territory. One look at the track listing makes it a whole foot, as artist names such as Tex Williams, Grandpa Jones and Jimmy Atkins & His Pinetoppers evoke the rural side. Having said that, most of these tracks still have a very contemporary shine.
As we come to the middle of this compilation, the upbeat still prevails. From The Vaults of Decca & Coral could not be said to be straight country or hillbilly in essence. There are none of the customary plaintive ballads which are so synonymous with country music, here: they would be out of place. Instead, every track completely fits the mood set out by the front cover art. Also, many of these tracks come from an era when the country music industry was beginning its self-conscious journey towards the more fashionable.
By the time track 15 of 30 comes around, things are getting a little samey in mood, though not in style. As the vocal tends to be at the front of the mix in this genre, we are able to discern each individual artist very clearly. Although some are represented by more than one song, each brings their own freshness, character and charm so that nothing outstays its welcome.
There are so many familiar names here, including the likes of Grandpa Jones, who are well known in their own right, and those more famous for backing up others, such as Grady Martin and Hank Garland. It is no wonder then that the standard is so high.
Though it might not be expected by the unfamiliar, much country music of yesteryear was actually recorded in amazing quality, with first-rate musicians, technicians, equipment and producers as well as performers. These reproductions are no exception. They must have come from the very best of sources. There is so much clarity and vibrancy in every example.
A Little Something Extra…
Once again Bear Family Records do not disappoint: a booklet full of detailed information on artist and song, track by track, accompanies this album. Attached to the inside of the digipak packaging, it adds to the listening experience. The images on the glossy pages evoke even more of the mood of this collection; it all adds to the value of From The Vaults of Decca & Coral.
- Jimmy Atkins & His Pinetoppers – I’m A Ding Dong Daddy (From Dumas)
- T. Texas Tyler – Hot Rod Rag
- Tabby West – Chat Chat Chattanooga
- Lonnie Glosson – Pan American Boogie
- Tex Williams – Big Bear Boogie
- Autry Inman – Happy Go Lucky
- Grandpa Jones – Eight More Miles To Louisville
- Roy Duke – I Mean I’m Mean
- Hank Penny – Bloodshot Eyes
- Tabby West – Texas Millionaire
- Hardrock Gunter
- Texas Bill Strength – Paper Boy Boogie
- Gene Stewart – Empty Seat In The Bar Room Booth
- Rusty Keefer – I’m Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail
- Tex Williams – Rancho Boogie
- Jimmie Davis – Cherokee Boogie (Eh-Oh-Aleena)
- Tommy Sosebee – All Night Boogie
- Kenny Roberts – I’m Looking For The Bully Of The Town
- Hardrock Gunter – Honky Tonk Baby
- Chuck Murphy – Blue Ribbon Boogie
- Hank Garland – Guitar Shuffle
- Tabby West – Inchin’ Up
- Grady Martin – Long John Boogie
- Tommy Sosebee – The Barber Shop Boogie
- Hardrock Gunter – You Played On My Piano
- Jimmy Atkins & His Pinetoppers – Juke Joint Johnny
- Tabby West – Pretty Little Dedon
- Arlie Duff – Courtin’ In The Rain
- Wayne Raney – 40th And Plum
- Roberta Lee & Hardrock Gunter – Sixty Minute Man
Overall, this compilation does exactly what the title and cover art suggest. It makes you want to move. The quality, in terms of source sound as well as content and the calibre of the performers, is very high. This collection of largely country flavoured numbers is light, lively and fun.
Mostly suited to the existing fan of this area of music, the mood of the collection as a whole is best described as feel-good and mood-lifting. From The Vaults of Decca & Coral is very well worth picking up.
Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight – From The Vaults of Decca & Coral Is Available From Bear Family Records.