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VARIOUS ARTISTS 'Country Music On The Mercury Label' BACM-187-CD

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The British Archive of Country Music has been putting out some excellent re-issues from the golden years of country music, making available a lot of obscure sounds that otherwise would not see the light of day. This album is not one of their better efforts. The idea is not a bad one, as the Mercury label had its share of fine country groups, but whoever chose the songs and artists for this 25-track compilation was way off the mark --unless he/she was determined to put together a full album of mostly average, unmemorable mediocrities. There are less than a handful of noteworthy cuts, one each by Carl Story, Mac Odell, Tommy Jackson and the Masters Family (inexcusably their nice version of THAT LITTLE OLD COUNTRY CHURCH HOUSE is once again mis-attributed to Flatt & Scruggs, perpetuating an old error from the early days of LPs --Lester & Earl are definitely not on this CD, despite the claim & the reference in the notes). A few other good artists (Lew Childre, Cliff Bruner, Lonnie Glosson and the early Bluegrass band Paul & Roy) appear here, but their selections are certainly not representative of their better work. The BACM label could have done a super anthology by spotlighting such artists as Bonnie Lou & Buster, Pete Cassell, Daisy Mae & Old Brother Charlie, Buck Ryan, The Stanley Brothers, Bill Clifton, The Carlisles, the Herrington Sisters, and Sunshine Slim Sweet -as well as a real Flatt & Scruggs cut. Although Mercury was not on a level with Columbia or RCA Victor, it did have quite a bit to offer, and as far as Bluegrass goes it was a major force, with much of the best work of Flatt & Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers and Carl Story. While this disc is representative of much of what Mercury put out in the 1940s and early 50s, it certainly does not show the label at its best. Some of the artists here include Toby Dowdy, Louie Innis, Tiny Hill, Art Gibson, Sheriff Tom Owens, Sue Thompson, Ken Marvin, etc.