Country Music Hall of Fame celebrates Sam Phillips

By Ken Paulson

A remarkable new exhibit opens today at the Country Music Hall of Fame honoring a singular figure in American music. The title says it all: “Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips.”

In fact, it was that audacious exhibit title that convinced the Phillips family that the Hall of Fame curators could be trusted with telling Sam’s story, his son Jerry said Thursday.

sam phillips posterPhillips, the founder of Sun Records played a pivotal role in the history of rock and roll, signing Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Rufus Thomas, Charlie Rich and many more groundbreaking and envelope-pushing talents.

His production and release of Elvis’ first single – “That’s All Right,” backed with a revved up “Blue Moon of Kentucky” – is the Big Bang of rock, and arguably of Americana music as well.

I had the opportunity to interview Phillips in 1999 at an event at the Peabody Hotel. I asked him my first question, and 11 minutes later he wrapped up his response. He was a colorful and confident character.

But he also had character. Sam was committed to finding and  recording fresh voices, breaking down barriers in the process.

Sam Phillips' console

Sam Phillips’ console

The exhibit features an impressive array of artifacts, most notably Elvis’ first recording – “My Happiness” – at the Memphis Recording Service. The disc, recorded for his mother, is on loan to the Hall of Fame by Jack White. Other items in the exhibit include:

– Phillips’ mixing console and tape recorder

  • – A union contract signed by Presley and Phillips
  • – An electric guitar used by Howlin’ Wolf
  • – A vintage Johnny Cash stage costume

The exhibit is scheduled to run through June 2016.

Americana Music Festival 2015: The line-up

We’re just about three weeks away from the Americana Music Festival and Conference Association Conference in Nashville,  and organizers have released a new list of performers, including these additions:  Glen Hansard, Jewel, Hot Rize featuring Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, Jay Farrar, Buddy Miller and Marc Ribot, JD McPherson, Parker Millsap, Joel Rafael, Nellie Clay, Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear and the Watkins Family Hour. 
The updated line-up:
Adam Faucett
American Aquarium

Anderson East

Andrew Combs

Andrew Leahey & The Homestead

Angaleena Presley 

Anthony D’Amato

Band of Heathens


Barna Howard

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn

Birds of Chicago

Brian Wright
The Bros. Landreth

Buddy Miller & Marc Ribot

Buick 6 


Caitlin Canty

Cale Tyson

Caleb Caudle

Caleb Klauder

CALICO the band 

Carly Ritter

The Carmonas

Caroline Spence 

Carsie Blanton


Christopher Paul Stelling

The Contenders

Corb Lund


Daniel Martin Moore 

Daniel Romano


Darrell Scott

David Wax Museum

Dead Winter Carpenters

Della Mae 

Dirty River Boys

Dom Flemons

Donnie Fritts and John Paul White

Doug Seegers

Dreaming Spires

Dustbowl Revival

Eddie Berman

Eilen Jewell

Emma Swift

Erin Rae & The Meanwhiles

The Fairfield Four

Fats Kaplin

Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen

The Freightshakers

Gill Landry

Glen Hansard

The Good Lovelies

The Grahams

Grant-Lee Phillips

Great Peacock

Gretchen Peters

Guthrie Brown & The Family Tree

Hackensaw Boys


The Hello Strangers

Henry Wagons

The Hillbenders

The Honeycutters


Horse Feathers

Hot Rize featuring Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers 

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Hugh Bob and the Hustle

Humming House

Jackie Greene

James McMurtry

Jay Farrar performs songs of Son Volt’s “Trace” 

JD & The Straight Shot

JD McPherson 
JD Souther

Jeffrey Foucault


Jim Lauderdale

Joe Pug

Joel Rafael 

John Moreland

John Paul Keith

Jonathan Tyler

Joseph LeMay

Josh Ritter 

Josh Rouse

JP Harris

Kacy & Clayton

Kai Welch 

Keenan O’Meara & M. Lui

Kelsey Waldon

Kingsley Flood

Kristin Andreassen

Kristin Diable

Laney Jones and the Spirits

Lee Ann Womack

Legendary Shack Shakers

Lera Lynn

Lewis and Leigh

Leyla McCalla

Lilly Hiatt

Lindi Ortega

Liz Longley

Los Colognes

Los Lobos

Low Cut Connie


Luther Dickinson

Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear 

Margo Price

Martin Harley

Mary Bragg

Mary Gauthier
The Mavericks

The McCrary Sisters

Michaela Anne & The Wild Hearts

Miss Tess & The Talkbacks

Nathaniel Rateliff  and The Night Sweats

Nellie Clay 

Nora Jane Struthers  and the Party Line


Oh Pep!

Olin & The Moon 

Packway Handle Band

Paper Bird

Parker Millsap 

Patty Griffin

Pine Hill Project (featuring Richard Shindell  and Lucy Kaplansky)

Pokey LaFarge

Pony Boy


Possessed By Paul James

Raised By Eagles

Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Richie Furay

River Whyless

Ron Pope & The Nighthawks

Ry Cooder/Sharon White/Ricky Skaggs

Ryan Culwell
Sam Outlaw

Sarah Borges

Sean McConnell

Session Americana

Shannon McNally 

Shemekia Copeland

The Show Ponies

Spirit Family Reunion

The Steel Wheels


Stephen Kellogg
The Stray Birds

The Suffers
T Sisters

T. Hardy Morris


Tall Heights

Those Pretty Wrongs

Town Mountain

Uncle Lucius

The Vespers

Water Liars

Watkins Family Hour 

Webb Wilder 

The Whistles and The Bells


Whitey Morgan

Whitney Rose

The Wild Reeds

William Elliott Whitmore

Willie Watson

The Wood Brothers

New Releases: Dustbowl Revival, Raging Fire, Auburn

DUSTBOWLA round-up of new releases:

Dustbowl Revival With a Lampshade OnDustbowl Revival draws on a folk tradition stretching back at least 85 years. With a Lampshade On is a genial album fueled by brass, fiddle and mandolin. This is energetic and engaging roots music.  Of course, most listeners are going to find Dustbowl Revival through their music video of “Never Had to Go,” featuring a joyous, dancing Dick Van Dyke. It’s buoyant, with or without Dick, and the album’s highlight.

Raging Fire Everything is Roses – Here’s an album we never expected to see. Raging Fire was a buzz band in the late ‘80s in Nashville, joining Jason and the Scorchers in a dynamic new rock scene in the city. Everything is Roses collects 24 tracks from their heyday. Cool and historic.

Jeb Barry Milltown – Jeb Barry is a prolific storyteller with a collection of stark songs, recorded in real time with the Pawn Shop Saints.

Auburn Mixed Feelings Bat Country Records/Scarlet Records The UK-based Auburn follow up their Nashville album, returning to Music City to work once again with accomplished producer Thomm Jutz. Set for release on Sept. 11.

Edward David Anderson Lower Alabama: The Loxley Sessions – Royal Potato Family Edward David Anderson’s new album, set for release on Oct. 16, was produced by Anthony Crawford and features guitar work from Will Kimbrough.

Adam Hill Old Paint– Adam Hill takes songs spanning centuries and gives them a more contemporary feel. Hill says he’s “recomposed” these old tunes, including the familiar “Cuckoo” and “A Soldier’s Joy.”


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Early Nashville rock: Ronnie and the Daytonas

By Ken Paulson

daytonasMuch is made these days of Kings of Leon and Jack White living in Nashville, but rock has long thrived in Music City.

The new Real Gone Music release of Ronny and the Daytonas’ The Complete Recordings reminds us of the Top 10 success of this Nashville band 51 years ago. Their debut single “GTO” echoed the Beach Boys’ car songs, but had a vitality all its own.

The hit was written by “Ronny” – John “Bucky” Wilkin – the son of legendary Nashville songwriter Marijohn Wilkin. She was a very big deal. She wrote country classics “Long Black Veil” and “Waterloo,” the inspirational “One Day at a Time” and even the Eddie Cochran (and Rod Stewart) track “Cut Across Shorty.” The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame calls her one of the three most successful female songwriters in country music history, along with Dolly Parton and Patsy Walker.

There must have been something in the DNA. While the younger Wilkin only had two Top 40 hits with the Daytonas, he wrote both, along with about half the band’s output.

The Complete Recordings is a fascinating two-CD set. Much of the first disc is formulaic car and surf music of widely varying quality, but just as Brian Wilson moved past those genres to a more sophisticated sound, so did Wilkin.

The turning point was “Sandy,” a 1965 hit single co-written with Buzz Cason, another young Nashville rocker who went on to write “Everlasting Love.” This was Wilkin’s “Please Let Me Wonder” and a huge leap beyond the early material.

From “Sandy” on, the songs became more adventurous and the arrangements more ambitious. But there were no more big hits.

By 1968, Wilkin was a solo artist with RCA and released a single about the day in the life of a solder in Vietnam, co-written with his mom and Kris Kristofferson. (Yes, you read that right.) It failed, despite the intervention and support of Chet Atkins. Yet it’s somehow the perfect bookend to a recording career that began four years earlier with “G.T.O. “ The sixties moved just that quickly.

The Complete Recordings include four unreleased songs, for an astounding total of 48 tracks from a band whose work went largely unacknowledged for decades. The new collection is an important historical document – and a lot of fun.

Review: Jason Isbell’s “Something More than Free”

By Paul T. Mueller

isbellJason Isbell had quite a challenge in following up his excellent 2013 album, Southeastern, which was a thing of rare power and beauty. Fortunately, he was up to the task. His latest, Something More Than Free, is an excellent collection in its own right. Isbell has a good eye for revealing details, and a gift for weaving them into songs that touch on themes both personal and universal.

It would have been tough to match the visceral impact of Southeastern’s “Cover Me Up” or “Elephant,” but there’s still plenty here that’s strong enough to impress on first listen and nuanced enough to reward further examination.

Things get off to a bouncy start with “If It Takes a Lifetime,” featuring an infectious violin riff courtesy of Amanda Shires, Isbell’s wife and collaborator. Isbell’s songwriting skill is much in evidence in the narrative of a man who’s learned from his mistakes, and has come to understand that happiness is a journey, not a destination. He pursues that theme further in “24 Frames,” which considers the idea that everything good can disappear in a second – the time it takes a movie camera to shoot 24 frames.

So it goes for the album’s other nine songs. More highlights:

  • “Flagship,” a sweet love song in which the narrator sees a couple “sitting there a thousand miles apart” and pleads, “Baby, let’s not ever get that way.”
  • “The Life You Chose,” which asks a tough question: “Are you living the life you chose? Are you living the life that chose you?”
  • The title track, a meditation on the value of work in which the narrator concludes, “I’m doing what I’m on this earth to do.” Clearly the same can be said of Isbell himself.
  • “Speed Trap Town,” a rueful observation of small-town life in the vein of Steve Earle or James McMurtry.
  • “Palmetto Rose,” a guitar-fueled look at the good and bad of life in a South Carolina city, from the point of view of a cab driver who’s familiar with both.

Isbell is backed by the members of his fine band, The 400 Unit: Sadler Vaden on guitars, Jimbo Hart on bass, Chad Gamble on drums, Derry Deborja on keyboards, and Shires. Producer Dave Cobb also helps out on percussion and acoustic guitar.

Something More Than Free is holding down the No. 1 spot on three Billboard album charts – country, rock and folk. That’s quite an achievement, and a testament to Jason Isbell’s ability to translate human experience into appealing music.

New releases: Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams

A round-up of new and recent Americana music releases:

larry-campbell_teresa-williamsLarry Campbell and Teresa Williams – Red House Records – One of our favorite albums of the summer, the debut duo album from Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams has soared up the Americana music airplay chart since its release five weeks ago, and has just entered the top 10. Rightly so. Best known for their affiliations with Levon Helm and Bob Dylan, the couple has delivered a self-assured collection of soulful and compelling songs, with immaculate playing throughout, and guest turns from Amy Helm and Bill Payne.

Jason JamesNew West Records –  Jason James taps into classic country on his debut solo album, recording new songs with a decidedly familiar feel.  It’s all honky tonk and heartbreak, just like they made them 50 years ago.  Set for release on August 21.

The Howl and the GrowlThe Surreal McCoys –  Produced by Eric Ambel, The Howl and the Growl offers up straight-ahead, high energy rock and country. The Surreal McCoys will be featured at a showcase at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville on Sept. 17.

Back on the Old Stuff– The Tallent Brothers – Rocky and Brandon Tallent left David Allen Coe’s band to record their own album, including a co-write with Pat McLaughlin on “There’s  a Spirit.” Release date: August 10.

Sure to OffendJim Pharis – Second album from Jim Pharis, who cites Leo Kottke,  Rev. Gary Davis, Merlre Travis and Bo Carter as his influences.

Old NewsDave Desmelik –  Dave Desmelik’s 10th album revisits a dozen songs he’s recorded over the past 16 years.

Long Gone Song Nocona  – Long Gone Song is the second studio album from Nocona. The band’s lyrics have a dark bent (see “Toothless Junkie”), but their sound is often spirited and adventurous.

bill lloyd epYesterday/Miracle Mile
Bill Lloyd – We generally don’t review EPs, but we do want to alert you to a new release by Bill Lloyd, one-half of Foster and Lloyd and an inventive solo artist with a passion for all things power pop. “Yesterday/Miracle Mile” is the “single” that anchors this new collection of five songs. Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick co-wrote “Yesterday” and plays bass on the track, and Pat Buchanan co-wrote the Who-inspired “Miracle Mile.” Three bonus tracks from Lloyd’s archives round out this energetic, engaging and hook-laden set, available on iTunes on August 18.

Salvatella Breadfoot – Jeezie Peezie Records – The fourth album from Breadfoot, whose music has been featured on Roadtrip Nation. Out this month.

Country/FolkWell Worn Soles – – Debut album from Emerson Wells-Barrett and Chelsea Dix-Kessler features low-key country and folk, just as described in the title. Buddy and Julie Miller offer up a supportive promotional quote, calling the duo “some comfortable listening.”





Rosanne Cash among four Songwriters Hall inductees

It’s my privilege to be a member of the board  of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in Nashville. It’s a remarkable organization that recognizes top songwriters who have either worked in Nashville, or whose careers have significantly intersected with Music City. You’ll find an interactive directory chronicling the inductees on the Hall’s website.

The Hall has just announced four new inductees, including Rosanne Cash, Mark James, Even Stevens and Craig Wiseman.  – Ken Paulson

The details from the Hall of Fame:

Rosanne Cash, Mark James, Craig Wiseman, Even Stevens

Rosanne Cash, Mark James, Craig Wiseman, Even Stevens

The four new inductees will join the 196 existing members of the elite organization when they are officially inducted during the 45th Anniversary Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala on Sunday, October 11, at the Music City Center. 

“Nashville remains the primary destination for anyone with an appreciation of songwriters and the art of songwriting,” said Alger.  “Since 1970, the legacy of those great songwriters has been celebrated and preserved by the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.  Each year only a few are elected to this high honor, and this year we are proud to welcome the class of 2015:  Mark James and Craig Wiseman in the songwriter category; Even Stevens in the veteran songwriter category and Rosanne Cash as our songwriter/artist.”

Mark James’ songwriter credits include “Hooked On A Feeling” (B.J. Thomas, Blue Swede), “Suspicious Minds” (Elvis Presley) and “Always On My Mind” (Willie Nelson).  Craig Wiseman’s resume is known for “Live Like You Were Dying” (Tim McGraw), “Believe” (Brooks & Dunn) and “The Good Stuff” (Kenny Chesney).  Even Stevens is the tunesmith behind “Suspicions” and “Drivin’ My Life Away” (Eddie Rabbitt) and “Crazy In Love” (Conway Twitty).  Rosanne Cash popularized many of her own compositions, including “Seven Year Ache,” “Blue Moon With Heartache” and “Hold On.” 

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala is one of the music industry’s premier events of the year.  The evening features tributes and performances of the inductees’ songs by special guest artists.  In recent years artists such as Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton, Marty Stuart, Taylor Swift, Josh Turner and Trisha Yearwood have performed at or participated in the event.  Fellow songwriters’ organization the Nashville Songwriters Association International also participates in the evening by presenting its annual awards for the year’s Best Song, Songwriter and Songwriter/Artist, as well as the Top 10 “Songs I Wish I Had Written” as determined by their professional songwriters division. 

Tickets for the Hall of Fame Gala are $250 each.  Select seating is available to the public and may be purchased as available by contacting Executive Director Mark Ford at or 615-460-6556.

Inductee Biographical Information

ROSANNE CASH has released 15 albums of extraordinary songs that have earned four Grammy Awards and nominations for 11 more, as well as 21 Top-40 hits, including 11 #1 singles.  Born in Memphis to legendary Country artist Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto, Rosanne’s second album was the landmark Seven Year Ache in 1981.  The self-penned song, “Seven Year Ache,” became a #1 record (her first), as did her “Blue Moon With Heartache.”  Co-writer Vince Gill also hit with two of their songs during the ’80s:  “If It Weren’t For Him” and “Never Alone.”  From that point, Rosanne’s albums would prove worthy vehicles for her considerable songwriting talent, as evidenced by “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me,” “Second To No One,” “Hold On” (the 1987 BMI Country Song of the Year), “If You Change Your Mind,” “What We Really Want” and “The Wheel.”  Her latest release, 2014’s The River and the Thread, received three Grammy Awards earlier this year. Additionally Rosanne has been selected as the 2015 artist in residence for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where she will perform three concerts in September.

EVEN STEVENS is a noted record maker, producer and graphic artist.  The Ohio native served in the U.S. Coast Guard, then settled in San Francisco to perform in the city’s nightspots as a folkie.  Back in Ohio, he was working as a graphic artist when an uncle persuaded him to come to Nashville to pitch the songs he’d been writing.  Hooking up with the then-unknown Eddie Rabbitt, Even began collaborating on songs that would soon make his friend a superstar: “Drivin’ My Life Away,” “I Love A Rainy Night,” “Step By Step” and “Suspicions” (BMI’s 1980 Country Song of the Year).  Even’s collaborations with others resulted in hits for artists like Dr. Hook (“When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman”), Conway Twitty (“Crazy In Love”), Ricky Skaggs (“Lovin’ Only Me”), Lacy J. Dalton (“Black Coffee”) and the Oak Ridge Boys (“No Matter How High”).  “Love Will Turn You Around” by Kenny Rogers was named ASCAP Country Song of the Year in 1982.


MARK JAMES grew up in Houston, Texas, along with B.J. Thomas, who was the first to make his songs hits.  By the late 1960s, Mark was signed as a staff songwriter to Memphis producer Chips Moman’s publishing company.  Moman produced Thomas’ versions of “The Eyes Of A New York Woman” and “Hooked On A Feeling” in 1968-69, and these became Mark’s debut songwriting successes.  He issued his own version of “Suspicious Minds” (also produced by Moman) on Scepter Records in 1968 before Elvis Presley made it a smash the following year using the same arrangement.  These songs, as well as hits such as “Sunday Sunrise” (Brenda Lee) and “Moody Blue” (Elvis Presley) were all created by Mark as a solo writer.  Mark also co-wrote the hits “It’s Only Love” (B.J. Thomas) and “One Hell Of A Woman” (Mac Davis).  One of Mark’s biggest hits came via Willie Nelson’s 1982 recording of “Always On My Mind.” A collaboration with fellow Memphians Johnny Christopher and Wayne Carson, that song – named 1982 Song of the Year for NSAI, the ACM and the CMA – earned the writers a pair of Grammys for Best Country Song and for Best Song.


CRAIG WISEMAN moved to Nashville in 1985 to pursue a songwriting career and by age 24 received his first cut by the legendary Roy Orbison.  Since then, the Hattiesburg, Miss., native has become one of Nashville’s most celebrated songwriters.  He was ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year in 2003, 2005 & 2007 and in 2014 earned the organization’s Heritage Award as its most-performed Country music songwriter of the past century.  In 2005, he received a Best Country Song Grammy for “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw.  That song also earned both ACM and CMA Song of the Year honors, as did his “Believe” by  Brooks & Dunn the following year.   Other hits from Craig’s catalog include “Summertime” and “The Good Stuff” by Kenny Chesney (2003 ASCAP Country Song of the Year), “Where The Green Grass Grows” by Tim McGraw, “Love Me If You Can” by Toby Keith, the AC hit “A Baby Changes Everything” by Faith Hill, “Hillbilly Bone” by Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins, “Boys ’Round Here” by Blake Shelton & The Pistol Annies and the Rock hit “Chalk Outline” by Three Days Grace.  To date, Craig has had well over 300 cuts, 100 singles and 21 #1s.

“Drifted”: Celebrating the Continental Drifters

By Ken Paulson

driftersI last saw the Continental Drifters in a club in Columbia, Missouri more than a decade ago. The show wasn’t widely publicized and the turnout was disappointing, with the band barely outnumbering the fans.

But that didn’t matter to the Drifters, who played a great set, punctuated with one-on-one banter with audience members. Good people. Great band.

Drifted: In the Beginning and Beyond, set for release this Friday,  is a testament to the Continental Drifters’ range and talent. Like the Band, the group tapped multiple lead vocalists, songwriters and players to creative a compelling collective.

The two-disc set showcases some rare and early Drifters recordings, reminding us that this was an Americana band well before the genre had a name.

Over time, the band expanded to include Susan Cowsill, the dBs’ Peter Holsapple, and the Bangles’ Vicki Peterson, and their recordings grew more melodic and pop-oriented.

As serious about their music as the Continental Drifters were, they were also playful. That’s captured on multiple covers on the new collection, including Mike Nesmith’s “Some of Shelley’s Blues,” Neil Young’s “When You Dance I Can Really Love” and “I Can’t Let Go,” recorded by the Hollies and written by Chip Taylor. They nail every song.

Most remarkable is their live rendition of the early Beach Boys track “Famer’s Daughter.” It opens with the James Bond Theme, shifts into tight harmonies from Cowsill and Peterson, and absolutely soars.

The album also includes tracks from the band’s 2001 EP Listen, Listen, a celebration of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention.

Drifted is a fascinating overview of an underappreciated band and is an extraordinary gift to longtime fans.

Review: John Moreland’s “High on Tulsa Heat”


By Paul T. Mueller

moreland_cover_150High on Tulsa Heat, the latest from Oklahoma singer-songwriter John Moreland, is not quite as much a one-man-band effort as his breakout 2013 album In the Throes, but it’s still a very personal statement. Like Throes, it’s not always easy to listen to. Moreland says in the liner notes, “This is a record about home. Whatever that is.”

Apparently it’s a place of loneliness, alienation and romantic difficulty. Consider some of the song titles: “Heart’s Too Heavy,” “Sad Baptist Rain,” “Losing Sleep Tonight.” Not a lot of fun there. But it’s a rewarding listen despite the darkness, owing to Moreland’s perceptive lyrics and catchy melodies, supported by his strong singing and playing. This is one former metalhead who knows his way around a nicely picked acoustic guitar and a quiet but heartfelt vocal. “Well, I’m the kind of love it hurts to look at,” he sings in “You Don’t Care for Me Enough to Cry.” “Maybe we should take it as a sign/When I’m strung out on leaving/Exalting all my demons/And you don’t care for me enough to cry.”

As on Throes, Moreland does most of the playing and singing here (and engineering, mixing and producing). But he makes a little more use of collaborators this time out. John Calvin Abney III (guitars and keyboards) and Jared Tyler (Dobro) help out on several tracks, as well as sharing engineering duties. Other contributors include Chris Foster on upright bass, Jesse Aycock on pedal steel, and Kierston White and Camille Harp on vocals.

As to the title, Moreland has said it derives from a song called “High on East Texas Heat” that he wrote years ago about his delirious state of mind after several sleepless nights in the un-air-conditioned home of a friend in East Texas. He dumped the song but kept the title, changing the name of the city to something more appropriate to his native Oklahoma.


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Reissue: Paul Williams’ “A Little on the Windy Side”

By Ken Paulson

windyThe 2011 documentary “Still Alive” purported to “find” the lost Paul Williams, the highly successful composer who was also a mainstay on talk shows of the ‘70s. It’s an odd premise.

Paul Williams lost? The same Paul Williams who in 2009 was elected president and chairman of ASCAP? The same Paul Williams who was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001?

No, the man who wrote “Rainy Days and Mondays,””We’ve Only Just Begun” and many more pop classics wasn’t missing, but some of his music was. His ninth album – A Little on The Windy Side – was so scarce that the asking price on Amazon was in excess of $100.

That’s been remedied with the release of the 1979 recording by Real Gone Music and Second Disc. The album, produced in Nashville with Williams’ brother Mentor, featured some of the era’s finest session players including guitarists Reggie Young and Troy Seals and keyboardist David Briggs. Despite the Music City origin, it’s not a country album. Instead, it has some very gentle funk underpinnings to make it sound contemporary in the late disco era.

The material here is solid and showcases Williams’ strengths, most notably on  “A Brand New Song” and “Here’s Another Fine Mess.”

The real treats are two songs that Williams wrote for the film “One on One” in 1977.

“My Fair Share” and bonus cut “Love Conquers All” were performed by Seals and Crofts on the soundtrack, and propelled the film in joyous fashion. It’s great to have the songwriter’s renditions on this long-overlooked collection.

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