Me And Pepper
If you’ve heard of Mel Tillis, you’ve heard that he has a bad stutter, but when he sings it vanishes , revealing one of the great country voices of the ’60s and ’70s. Mel wrote prolifically, and there are three charted hits on Me and Pepper: “Blind in Love,” “Lying time Again,” and “Fooled Around and Fell in Love.” On a ten-song album, that’s batting 300. This is in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Mel Tillis did his best stuff in the transitional period between the old style scratchy country music and the modern not-quite rock and roll sound. His guitar is always present, but the lush strings of elevator music creep into cuts like “I’m Sorry.” “Let Me Be the Keeper” picks up a fuller, richer sound we now recognize as modern country, and “Black Jack Water Back” sounds like a positively bluesy rock and roll number. While he may not have realized it, Mr. Tillis led the process of packaging Honky Tonk music for mass consumption by people who wouldn’t walk into one on a bet.
Like all Collectors’ Choice releases, the liner notes are worth a read. This disc is one of three Mel Tillis releases, and the notes discuss his life from growing up in Tampa to his first taste of songwriting success. If you’re really interested in this guy, you’ll need to either buy the other discs or look him up on the Internet. This disc isn’t the rhinestone-studded version of Country and Western, but more like the polyester shirt and permed hair version. It’s surprisingly comforting.
Collectors’ Choice: www.collectorschoicemusic.com