Music Reviews

Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time

Murder on Music Row

Shell Point

Kentucky native Larry Cordle may be better known for his songs than for his band. Cordle has penned a number of big country and bluegrass hits, including the Ricky Scaggs hit “Highway 40 Blues.” The title cut of this album, as it was covered by Alan Jackson and George Strait in the past year, has been the source of much controversy in Nashville. It’s really a rather simple song, but it challenges the Nashville music business and the direction it has gone off in. Nashville music nowadays is not the Nashville music of our father’s time. Many very fine traditional country musicians have a hard time getting label deals and support in the town these days. Even some of the true living legends of country music find that they can do better and get more support in LA, or New York, or under the Americana umbrella.

The song “Murder on Music Row,” as performed by Jackson and Strait, has been nominated for “Single of the Year” by the Country Music Association. I have to take this as a statement of some sort. There must be some pretty strong undercurrent rising up among the Nashville establishment for them to nominate this song as a single. Why? Because it was never released as a single. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out at awards time.

As for this album, I was quite surprised. All bluegrass musicianship is generally at a very high level. The competition is fierce in this genre and a mediocre player generally wouldn’t be even be accepted in this family. Also, sometimes the playing overshadows the songs and then sometimes the songs tend to be a little too much religion for most people – myself included. That is not the case with this album. Cordle and company find a good balance of themes and a good collection of songs. About half of the songs are originals, with the other half drawing from some of the giants and lesser-knowns. Among the covers are compositions by Carter Stanley, Johnny Bond, J.D. Crowe, and Buck White. There’s even a cover of “Deep Mine Blues,” that was penned with Lionel Delmore by a couple of the musicians from the Metro Blues Band. This recording feels more like the Kentucky music that I grew up with than anything I’ve heard in a long time. It’s country and it’s bluegrass, and it’s done the way it should be. There’s no homicide going on here.

Shell Point Records, 816 18th Ave S., Nashville, TN 37203;

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