Songwriter and recording act ‘Whispering Bill’ Anderson may not have been lauded with the praise handed to many of his peers, but boy hasn’t he written some fantastic country songs and he still is churning them out like crazy!
An amazing man, Anderson not only has he charted (on numerous occasions) and topped the country music chart seven times, five as a solo act and twice by way of duets with Mary Lou Turner and Jan Howard. For too many years I discarded him as a slick and gentle, less than convincing vocalist. Remember he was up against Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Bobby Bare, Vern Gosdin, Tompall Glaser, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Tom T Hall and Gene Watson etc. Now, through listening to this his early work of 1965 – 1967 I have a more positive approach and find his tones, soothing. As he puts his own spin on songs made famous by Connie Smith, Lefty Frizzell, Jan Howard, Faron Young, Ray Price and that is just what is featured here (plus the likes of ‘The Tip Of My Fingers’ that was later to be a hit for Roy Clark and Jean Shepard), ‘Po’ Folks’, ‘Mama Sang A Song’, ‘City Lights’ and the closing track on ‘From This Pen’ one of his biggest hits ‘Still’.
Of the first album — that has like the second The Jordanaires lend vocal support I was knocked sideways by the fiddle and steel guitar on the powerful ‘That’s What It’s like To Be Lonesome’, ‘Riverboat’ that takes the listener on a Mark Twain-like journey. A wonderful song it is well worthy of a place alongside the likes of ‘Saginaw, Michigan’ and ‘Once A Day’ and his own, plaintive country as they come ‘Po’ Folks’. His humour is sharp, too. As in the title ‘I’ve Enjoyed As Much Of This As I Can Stand’ plus, there is also the small matter of his autobiography now enjoying its fourth print I Hope You’re Living As High On The Hog As The Pig You Turned Out To Be.
Starting off with the splendid title-track of ‘Get While The Gettin’s Good’ the second of this wonderful 2-on-one set is solid enough without it claiming to be of the same consistency of the former, yet in ‘Bad Seed’, ‘Something To Believe In’ and jaunty, infectious ode ‘Ride Ride Ride’ (Liz Anderson) and cover of Buck Owens’ ‘Open Up Your Heart’ and his own ‘Born’ there is plenty to savour. From an artist who, like noted above is still (helped through him writing with the likes of Vince Gill and Jon Randall) enjoying covers by Brad Paisley - Alison Krauss, Kenny Chesney, Lorrie Morgan and George Strait among others.
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