Archive for the ‘Owen Bradley’ Category

Wilma Burgess

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Listen: When You’re Not Around / Wilma Burgess

I walked into the house after seeing Bassnectar earlier tonight at Terminal 5, and as much as I was wired beyond nuts from the relentless low, low, low end of the show’s live mix, my mood went unexpectedly gentle. Usually I’ll sleep a great show off, but tonight I just felt like a peaceful nightcap, and switched on the Seeburg, selecting one single blindly. The result couldn’t have been more perfect.

Enter Wilma Burgess. Producer Owen Bradley signed her as the potential successor to Patsy Cline back in ’64. As a result, we got some great singles from the two all through the decade.

Preceding k.d. Lang by a solid twenty years in battling her sexual preferences with a not so tolerant Country music business meant most of her records got very little airplay.

‘When You’re Not Around’ kept in character with her neutral genre lyrical song choices and was not a chart hit. In fact, it was the third of three flops, and almost ended her time with Decca until the fourth single, ‘Baby’ reached #7 in September ’65.

Patsy Cline

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Listen: Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray / Patsy Cline

Usually accurate, Wikipedia’s Patsy Cline singles discography is very incomplete. US Decca had more than one number series during the 50′s and 60′s, making them an impossible tool when attempting to organize their releases chronologically. Through the years, I’ve stumbled upon so many promo copies of her singles, and squirm a bit at the thought of them being out of order in my library, therefore deciding to sort these out once and for all, hitting Wikipedia as a reference. To be fair, it did help a bit, listing a few relevant titles through the years, thereby identifying some numerical logic, but overall it was glaringly patchy.

Meanwhile, the organizing turned into an extended Patsy Cline singles session. Scary how some of the earliest titles, from say ’55, sound so dated, way more hillbilly than country. All very primitive but still recorded meticulously, generally by Owen Bradley. Shocking too how many records she released without any success on either the Pop or Country charts. Other than one title in ’57, ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’(#2 Country, #12 Pop), it would be six years of chart failures until ‘I Fall To Pieces’(#1 Country, #12 Pop) began her string of hits.

‘Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray’, time frozen by both title and lyric, has weathered the years to become a classic, covered often and always included in various compilations and anthologies. Apparently a rather haunted person in real life, one of the few items recovered from the plane crash site was her “beloved Confederate Flag cigarette lighter which played ‘Dixie’”, making the song even more cryptic.


Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Listen: Just The Same Way / Journey
Just The Same Way / Journey

Yesterday’s post about historic, often unsung producer Owen Bradley had me locked into a historic, often unsung producer funk. Somewhere in my Top 5, Roy Thomas Baker sits.

Well I suppose he’s had various moments in the sun, but not lately. If the great minds decide to ponder the character responsible for inventing corporate rock, then by all means, RTB should get the crown. Seriously, who can touch a production like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?

Weened at the Decca Studios in London as an engineer (check your record sleeves from the 60′s) meant learning how to mic and record accurately was his required foundation. So for RTB to build a skyscraper – piece of cake.

When he ran the west coast office of Elektra in ’85, he’d welcome us junior New York A&R guys every time we made our way to Los Angeles. And the action never, not ever, slowed. Honestly, there was no stopping and certainly no sleeping. It was that simple.

When I pull out Journey singles, there are four or five that eat up the next half hour or so of my life, each getting a couple of spins minimum. Tonight, ‘Just The Same Way’ won hands down. Is there anything that isn’t absolutely perfect about this single?

Steve Perry’s call and answer bits push the bar, one classic inflection after the other. Then there’s the guitar solo, and the tones. It’s an AOR radio masterpiece.

The Paradise Island Trio / Owen Bradley

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Listen: Adventures In Paradise / The Paradise Island Trio & Owen Bradley
The Paradise Island Trio / Owen Bradley

Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, k. d. lang. Now that’s some serious lineage. Well Owen Bradley produced them all. Why is he not recognized more often? I guess the ghetto of country music creates a constant oversight.

Although the handful of recordings he made as steel guitar player with The Paradise Island Trio don’t on the surface appear to have historical value, in actuality, their ambience in sound and tonality very much do. Completely typical of the clean, electric hollow body picking prevalent during ’62, ‘Adventures In Paradise’ most likely benefited from Owen Bradley’s producing and/or engineering skills. His mic technique alone is difficult to mistake.

I believe the island of paradise in question here is Nashville by the way, where combining stereophonic sound with Hawaiian tropics was a license to print money. The Three Suns were a must for every Noguchi knock off coffee table and Don Ho was right around the corner.