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Swing West!, Vol. 1: Bakersfield
Various Artists
Swing West!, Vol. 1: Bakersfield
Genres: Country, Pop
  •  Track Listings (20) - Disc #1

Though it includes no Merle Haggard hits and no Buck Owens at all, this compilation documents Bakersfield's bare-bones, honky-tonk sound--crackling guitars and steels, busy fiddles, high harmonies--that thrived for roughly...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Various Artists
Title: Swing West!, Vol. 1: Bakersfield
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Razor & Tie
Original Release Date: 5/18/1999
Release Date: 5/18/1999
Genres: Country, Pop
Styles: Roadhouse Country, Classic Country
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 793018219723

Though it includes no Merle Haggard hits and no Buck Owens at all, this compilation documents Bakersfield's bare-bones, honky-tonk sound--crackling guitars and steels, busy fiddles, high harmonies--that thrived for roughly two decades beginning in the early '50s, and was eventually considered a serious threat to Nashville. Artists range from the off-the-wall Tommy Collins to the deeply soulful Rose Maddox. Other highlights include the bluegrass-inflected "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)" from Joe Maphis and Rose Lee; the lovely, devotional "Waltz of the Angels" by Wynn Stewart; the hillbilly boogie of the Farmer Boys' "Humdinger"; and the hard truckin' of Red Simpson's "Highway Patrol." Nearly everything has a little swing and a lot of drive. Dwight Yoakam helped refocus attention on this renegade brand of country, but there's no better introduction than this compilation. --John Morthland

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CD Reviews

The roots of the Bakersfield Sound sound great!
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 08/10/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"While Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam have the most famous names, California's been the adopted home of innovative country artists since the dustbowl drove Okies west. From the honky-tonks of Bakersfield, to the guitar pyrotechnics of Speedy West and Joe Maphis, to the vibrant swing scene of 1940s Los Angeles, California often led Nashville with new instrumentation, musical composites and lyrical ideas. Though far from definitive - it's only 3 CDs, after all - this set provides a superb introduction to the many facets of West Coast country.Volume 1 tracks the Oklahoma and Texas transplants of Bakersfield as they energize crying steel and fiddles with the twang of a Fender Telecaster, rejecting Nashville's pop conventions in the process. Ken Nelson's Capitol productions include brilliant vocals from Ferlin Husky, Jean Shepard, and Rose Maddox. The lack of Buck Owens recordings (explained as "readily available" elsewhere) leaves the culmination of Bakersfield's story untold."
A fine sampling of the essense of "Bakersfield Sound."
hyperbolium | 07/03/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If, as a teen in the 1950's, you ever walked passed a bar on a hot afternoon and smelled beer and stale smoke wafting from the darkness and heard songs like the ones on "Swing West! Volume 1. Bakersfield," and thought, "By gosh, I can't wait 'til I grow up so I can go in there, buy a beer and listen to that music," then here's the CD that'll take you there. Any reference to, or talk of, the "Bakersfield Sound" is so dominated by the two giants of that sound, Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, that most listeners can't get a sense of what Haggard and Owens leaned on musically from the area, what was around them and influenced them. It was this; what's in this CD. A few cuts are almost too familiar, played to death at the time. Songs like "It's Such a Pretty World, " and "Gone." Merle's first, best, and great shot at stardom, "Sing a Sad Song," is here. In his autobiography Haggard said he knew if given the opportunity to record this song, it would be a hit; when you hear the range, power and nuance in his delivery you know it too. One of the top 5 classic country songs of all time is included, "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)." Heartfelt harmonies, simple, direct and unencumbered, a beautiful and effective song through and through. Wynn Stewarts' magnificent vocals are displayed in, "The Waltz of the Angels." There's a couple of Tommy Collins songs that might give you the willies. Or maybe just one of them will. Rose Maddox delivers two great Bakersfield-style songs, and one clunker, "Sing a Little Song of Heartache," that should have been left off this CD. Merle Haggard sings the dead-on, "Please Mr DJ" that will make you want to pop a cool one the second he kicks it off. The perpetually silly, "I'm a Truck" by Red Simpson is on this set but then so is "The Highway Patrol," and comparing it to Junior Brown's cover is deja vu all over again. Finally, the true essense of the CD comes through in the steel guitar intro of "Apartment #9" and so do visions of poor Tammy Wynette, bless her. She certainly didn't have to go much further to find the soul of this song since author Bobby Austin's version has it blatantly bared throughout the tune. It must have been things like the unabashed, heart-busting steel guitar style of the Bakersfield sound that so intimidated the Nashville establishment at the time. It's no secret that the Bakersfield sound was looked down upon and dismissed by Nashville in those days. Although it did fade away or was assimilated, it's mark and influence are still definitely present. Even if used in the context, as this reviewer does, in comparing the low quality and triteness of today's country music to that of classic Bakersfield."
A Little Fun
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 07/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Swingwest! Volume 1 Bakersfield" is an excellent collection covering a 20-year period from 1951-1971 with emphasis on the 50s and early 60s. There are so many gems. Tommy Collins who has a new compilation released this year has two gems. "You Better Not Do That" from 1953 is a delightful flirtatious nugget with Collins' aw-shucks talk-sing, "When I was a little older I went to the country dance, I went to have a little fun; I wasn't thinkin' about romance; but the dim lights just lured them on & they snuggled up to me; I knew I couldn't last too long 'cause I'm human, you see." Collins is also represented by "What'cha Gonna Do Now?" another lesson in romance. The classic "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)" by Joe Maphis & Rose Lee is another classic country track lamenting the honky-tonk life. Bobby Austin's "Apartment #9" is a classic weeper that Tammy Wynette also recorded, "Loneliness surrounds me without your arms around me; And the sun will never shine in Apartment #9." Merle Haggard & Buck Owens are the two most famous artists associated with the Bakersfield sound. Merle & the Strangers have two tracks in this set. "Sing A Sad Song" from 1963 is a classic pedal steel drenched weeper. "Please Mr. D.J." is a midtempo weeper recorded a year later with Merle's tear-in-your beer vocals in full sob mode, "You won't have to call her name, she'll know it's meant for her, Play me that song of sadness & I'll be grateful to you sir." Rose Maddox is a powerful country queen with 3 tracks represented including "Kissing My Pillow" which is a classic heartbreak love song. On "Sing A Little Song of Heartache," Rose's most successful single, the music sounds happy while the lyric is blue. "SwingWest!" is an excellent volume for those of us who love classic country. Most of the tracks were recorded for Capital or Tally labels and shows that good music never goes out of fashion. Enjoy!"