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Lefty Frizzell

Songs of Jimmie Rodgers – 1999 (Koch)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Lefty Frizzell

Though Merle Haggard's 1969 2-record tribute to country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers is probably better known today, Haggard's idol, Lefty Frizzell, was there first. His 1951 8-song 10" Columbia LP was significant both as one of the very first long playing country records and as one of the earliest thematic releases in the then-new LP format.

Just as Haggard would do a generation later, Frizzell evened out some of Rodgers' quirky rhythms to make them easier to perform in a group setting, in the process moving steel guitarist Curly Chalker over to dobro. The resulting LP was both artistically and financially satisfying for Rodgers, with "Travelin' Blues" reaching number 6 in Billboard. In addition, 4 additional Rodgers numbers recorded in 1953 are also included; "California Blues," "Never No' Mo' Blues," "Sleep Baby Sleep," and "(I'm) Lonely and Blue," all featuring lead guitarist Roy Nichols, who would eventually appear on Haggard's own Rodgers tribute, bringing things full circle.

An excellent and welcome addition to the collection of any fan of Frizzell or Rodgers.