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JIMMIE SKINNER 'Too Hot To Handle' BACM-184-CD

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He sometimes had problems keeping on pitch, and often had trouble keeping in time, and no one would say he had a good voice, yet Cincinnati based Jimmie Skinner was the subject of a fine recent Bear Family 6-CD Boxed set, and deservedly so: he was the quintessential down-home country singer, and a really good songwriter to boot. If you already have the boxed set (BCD-16613, $ 135.00), which is pretty much a complete Skinner collection, then you won't need this new British import. But for those who'd like to know what Jimmie was all about, this is a good sampler that draws from his Capitol, Decca and Mercury cuts as well as 6 of his early RADIO ARTIST sides, usually considered his best work. With a voice similar to Ernest Tubb's, and a unique backup sound that usually included the funky, very distinctive electric mandolin playing of Ray Lunsford, Skinner trots through the 25 songs here --most are his own compositions, but he tackles a couple of covers nicely, including, amazingly, Duke Ellington's DON'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE. Among his other songs, Skinner wrote DOIN' MY TIME, DON'T GIVE YOUR HEART TO A RAMBLER (neither on this disc) and YOU DON'T KNOW MY MIND (this is here), which have become Bluegrass standards. Also present here is the fine WHAT A PLEASURE and my favorite THE RAMBLER'S CALL, a performance that can put chills down your spine, (despite the inclusion of the most primitive banjo break you will ever hear on record.) At its best Skinner's music was among the best expressions of a rural honky tonk culture that will never --and can never --be seen again.