Almost Jack Daniels Drowned

26 Mar

john_anderson-2(2)JOHN ANDERSON – 2 LP (Warner Brothers, 1981)

A big name in 80’s Neo-Traditionalist Country John Anderson was, and maybe the best of the bunch. Along with George Strait and Dwight Yoakam, John was one of the first to carve out a career using songs & sounds identified with older, fading styles of country music at the beginning of the 80’s – when limp, crossover country-pop ala Kenny Rogers ruled the day. So not only does he ring in here with great, faithful covers of Lefty Frizzell’s “I Love You A Thousand Ways” and Norro Wilson’s “July 12, 1939”, but he’s found new songs like “I’ve Almost Jack Daniels Drowned” and written his own (“Mountain High, Valley Low”) that exude deep understanding of honky-tonk and bluegrass traditions.

John has a casual, off-hand vocal style with a blue streak particularly suited to ballads. It gives him real underdog character, the kind that trumps the overly-confident vocals of well-adjusted Strait every day of the week. And since John utilised no-nonsense production still common to country recs at the time (Nashville didn’t have to endure New Wave synths for another half decade) his band sounds more naturalistic than Yoakam’s, who occasionally tried too hard to re-create lost hillbilly aura.

Yes John ought to avoid rocking up his sound as he does on “Chicken Truck” – the band just ain’t made for that kinda action. But even if novelty numbers like “I’m Just An Old Chunk Of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be A Diamond Some Day)” are silly, they hit precisely because they meld the old – longtime sessioners Jerry Reed and Pete Drake sound like they’re having fun for the first time in years – and the new with seamless ease. This LP’s more consistent than either his first or third, but if like me you get addicted to John’s lugubrious vocal style, you’re gonna want to search out those too.

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One Response to “Almost Jack Daniels Drowned”

  1. Mark March 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    You’re goin’ DEEP! Love it!

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