A collection of some of the earliest recorded work by the late Waylon Jennings leads new country album releases this week. Also out are a live album by bluegrass group Hot Rize, a bluegrass anthology, an all-star tribute to Cajun music and two reissues by country legends.
Phase One: The Early Years(Hip-O Records) collects 20 of Jennings’ early recordings, some of them from his days on A&M Records in the early 1960s. It includes his one single for A&M, “Sing the Girls a Song, Bill,” which was a flop. Also included are Jennings’ version of Bob Dylan’ s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and his first single, “Jole Blon” which was released on Brunswick in 1958 and which was produced by Buddy Holly. It also has Jennings’ versions of the Holly hits “It’s So Easy” and “Rave On.”
Hot Rize was indeed one very hot bluegrass band, made up of Tim O’Brien (mandolin, fiddle and lead vocals), Nick Forster (bass, vocals), Charles Sawtelle (guitar, vocals) and Pete Wernick (banjo, vocals). Sawtelle played his last show in 1998 before his untimely death from leukemia in 1999. So Long of a Journey (Sugar Hill) was recorded live by the group in 1996 at the Boulder Theatre in Boulder, Colo. The 20 cuts include “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and “Radio Boogie.”
Evangeline Made: A Tribute to Cajun Music (Vanguard) features a number of artists ranging from Linda Ronstadt to John Fogerty to former Lone Justice lead singer Maria McKee to Rodney Crowell performing Cajun songs from southwest Louisiana.
A number of contemporary bluegrass figures contribute to the anthology Cool, Blue and Lonesome: Bluegrass (Sugar Hill). Artists include Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Don Rigsby, the Osborne Brothers, Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, the Nashville Bluegrass Band, Larry Cordle and Glen Duncan of Lonesome Standard Time, Tim O’Brien and the Seldom Scene.
The RCA Country Legends series has releases by the late Keith Whitley and Porter Wagoner. Whitley’s CD includes duets with Earl Thomas Conley and with Whitley’s wife, Lorrie Morgan. The Wagoner release includes familiar numbers such as “The Carroll County Accident,” “The Rubber Room” and “Green, Green Grass of Home.”