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JIMMY MURPHY 'Sixteen Tons Rock'N' Roll' BCD-15451-CD

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One of the most intriguing and mysterious characters to make "Country & Western" records, the Alabama born Murphy had a short & erratic recording career that left us some fine music. His first recorded efforts were two 1951 sessions for RCA Victor (which included probably his best work) and another 8 sides for Columbia in 1955 and 1956 --it is these major label recordings that make up this neat CD that is well annotated by Colin Escott. (There were enough other odd ball and later recordings to make up a fine additional CD --ACE-714, $ 18.00 --as well as an excellent LP on Sugar Hill that was made in the late 1970s). Murphy had a really fine country voice, but it was his very distinctive guitar picking that he is best known for. The Bear Family label --which seems to have a near obsession with "rockabilly" music --would normally present the recordings in chronological order, but here they feature the Columbia cuts first: songs like BABOON BOOGIE, GRANDPA'S A CAT and the title song: obviously made to cash in on a then current craze, there's not much to these ditties, but Murphy makes the most of them, helped by his guitar work and some good Wayne Raney-style harmonica playing by Onie Wheeler. The RCA songs are where Murphy really shines --these include his classic ELECTRICITY and other fine cuts like MOTHER WHERE IS YOUR DAUGHTER TONIGHT, WE LIVE A LONG LONG TIME, and THAT FIRST GUITAR OF MINE. A good disc.