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KITTY WELLS —I HEARD THE JUKEBOX PLAYING (Jasmine Records) 2 CDs Mono

www.jasmine-records.co.uk

Made up of 1950s albums The Winner Of Your Heart, Lonely Street (released in 1956 and 1958, respectively) and After Dark (a collection of eight previously released 45s plus, four new ones) plus, you have Golden Favorites that has five duets with Red Foley, and four others plus as a bonus two duets with long time king of country music, Roy Acuff. If you like traditional country music then this is something you should seriously look at or if you simply have a curiosity for the origins of country music. You too should take a listen. Wells' singing voice was one of the sharpest and most distinctive ever, and when it came to duets she was one of the finest exponents. 

Her work with Foley was outstanding, and I am always up for an excuse to play some Roy Acuff (and though I rarely do these days), and with her plaintive tones and emotional strength as she sang songs about slipping around, barrooms and how true love isn’t always easy to hang onto. Such the temptations dangled in front of those of weak resolve. Wells’ handling of the likes of “I Heard The Jukebox Playing”, “After Dark”, “Lonely Side Of Town” and such classics as “Lonely Street”, “Honky Waltz” and “A Mansion On The Hill” coupled with such warning pieces as “(Don’t Hang Around) He’s Married To Me” is top class. 

Her prowess as a duet partner is heard in great splendour on “One By One”, “Long As I Live” and skip-along “No One But You” plus “Broken Marriage Vows”. On getting back to her solo recordings you are spoilt for choice what to look at first; with the likes of “Right Or Wrong” alongside tender tunes “Sweeter Than The Flowers” and “Waltz Of The Angels”; and with the songs loaded in pedal steel guitar, fiddle and harmony vocals the Kitty Wells sound is fully capture. Sometimes haunting and piercing, and always full of soul she set the benchmark / example for female country acts that followed. 

    Maurice Hope   

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