The Statler Brothers left their indelible mark on country music after they transitioned from southern Gospel. Whether recorded music, public appearances or television, they are one of the top quartets in the history of the genre. Cousins Wilson (Wil) Reid (Harold Reid's son) and Langdon Reid (Don Reid's son) are Wilson Fairchild. Their songs have been recorded by Dailey & Vincent, the Statlers and others. Only one of the cuts from the new CD is from their pens. "The Statler Brothers Song" is a paean to the Statlers that they performed at the Statlers' induction ceremonies into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. It's traditional Statler music: upbeat with excellent harmony and a positive message.
The other nine tracks are just as described by the CD title: songs composed by Harold and Don Reid. Some may not be familiar, such as "Left Handed Woman," featuring a bluesy harmonica played by Buddy Greene, or "How Are Things In Clay, Kentucky," an easygoing song about love left behind and now missed. "Clay, Kentucky" has such a familiar feel to it that you'll have no trouble pegging it as a Statlers' song. "He Went To the Cross Loving You" is a rewrite of the famous "I'll Go To My Grave Loving You," with Gordon Kennedy singing the tenor part. It's appealing that these songs are not over-produced, loaded with instruments that sometimes obscure the singers. You hear Jerry Kennedy's Dobro sparingly (and no steel guitar). He adds flourish to "She's Too Good." This song includes some memorable lines: "Maybe she ain't good enough to go to heaven, but heaven knows she's too good to go to hell" and the opening line, "She was what the folks called a virgin." How many times have you heard that in a song?
Both play acoustic guitar and that's the primary instrumental support for these songs, though a fuller band sound is achieved with the use of a mellotron. You won't see that listed on any of your country records. The instruments provide the vehicle for the songs to ride, keeping the focus on the lyrics and vocals. While they are carving out their own careers, they'll never escape (nor do they give any indication of wanting to) their resemblances to their fathers' voices and appearances.
If you're a Statlers fan you'll certainly recognize "Guilty," played here with a more upbeat tempo but a familiar voice in the mix. Jimmy Fortune joined them on this track. Two other numbers that will take you back to years ago are "I'll Even Love You Better Than I Did Then" and "A Letter From Shirley Miller." If you still search through your collection of CDs and LPs to get your Statler Brothers fix, you'll surely enjoy hearing the second generation keeping their music alive.