SONGS OF THE SOUTH…Felice & Boudleaux Bryant: The Hit Songs of Felice & Boudleaux Bryant 1949-62

No, the picture on the right is not of Baptist Missionaries.  Born and raised in Georgia and living in a mobile home during their early years, Felice and Boudleaux had a knack for composing some of the greatest songs that captured not only the sounds of Country and Western music, but of the south itself, and eventually working its way into pop music and swing, as artists ranging from Count Basie, Dean Martin, Simon & Garfunkel, Sarah Vaughan and Bob Dylan covered their material.

This two disc album will make you wonder why you’ve never heard of the classically trained violinist and his wife, as some of their songs such as “Wake Up, Little Susie,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream” and “Bye Bye Love” are part of the American lexicon. The attraction of this collection is that you have various artists interpreting the clever Cumberland Gap meeting Tin Pan Alley tunes.

Things get started with a swinging Little Jimmie Dickens on “Country Boy” while there are three richly variant reads of the fun filled “ Hey J oe!” by Kitty Wells, Frankie Lane and Carl Smith. An Elvis-inspired Jim Dale takes on Crazy Dream, and you get a feel that the husband and wife team were essential to the career of The EVerly Brothers with a slew of hits including not only “ Wake Up Little Susie” (interpreted by others elsewhere here) but “Bird Dog,” “Devoted To You” and “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” Some real interesting cameos are by Ricky Nelson with a 1960 “I’m Not Afraid,” Buddy Holly sounding marvelous on ”Raining In My Heart” and Jim Reeves sounding sincere on ”Blue Heart.” Since they lived south of the Mason Dixon line, there’s even a song about teen divorce on ”Teen Ex,” so there are few stones uncovered here. This anthology is a delight, and it reminds  you that there were other important composers before Leiber and Stoller.

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