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Country Side of Bluegrass

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Audio CD, February 2, 2012
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Country Side of Bluegrass by Janie Fricke

This product is manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media.'s standard return policy will apply.


Janie Fricke has had a long, winding career. She started out as a singer of TV commercial jingles, warbling for Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Red Lobster, among other clients. She then moved on to singing back-up vocals for stars such as Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. Taking another tentative step toward the limelight, she began singing duets with established male stars, including Merle Haggard, Johnny Duncan and Charlie Rich. Finally, she recorded a solo hit, Down to My Last Broken Heart, in 1981. Now, decades after her last big hits, Fricke has moved into bluegrass territory, rearranging some of her best-known music on the album Country Side of Bluegrass. She's still singing hits like Down to My Last Broken Heart, but now there's fiddle and banjo behind it. At her 1980's peak, Fricke was very much a pop-country singer. She benefited from smooth, creamy production work by Billy Sherrill, and she always wanted to reach beyond the core country audience by putting bounce in her ballads. On Country Side of Bluegrass, however, she sounds as though she's riding a covered wagon singing one of her '80s No. 1 hits, Tell Me a Lie. Tell Me a Lie is interesting when you listen past Fricke's pretty vocal to focus on the lyric. She's picking up a guy she knows is married, but she's lonely; she just wants him to lie, to say he's single, and take her to her place for the night. It's a rather bold variation on country music's perennial theme of cheating with or without much guilt. The bluegrass versions of her greatest hits work best when she's working out a more prosaic theme falling for a more available guy who she knows is going to dump her, but she can't resist the temporary thrill, as she does in He's a Heartache. The weakest aspect of Country Side of Bluegrass resides in some of Fricke's vocals. All those years of singing commercial jingles and accommodating duets with other stars smoothed over the edges in her voice, and she can sometimes sound merely slick. This is a move to regain some attention at a time when middle-aged women have a difficult time competing in the current Taylor Swift/Carrie Underwood universe. Janie Fricke uses the urgency she feels to sustain her career to flood her bluegrass with compelling emotion. - Ken Tucker, NPR Music --NPR Music

Recent news of a release by Janie Fricke, titled Country Side of Bluegrass, intrigued me, as one of those who remember her star status as one of the premier female vocalists in country music in the early 1980's. Getting started doing vocals for national advertising jingle (Red Lobster, United Airlines, Coca-Cola), and providing background vocals for numerous country stars (Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Johnny Duncan, Ronnie Milsap, Mel Tillis), Janie Fricke later climbed to the top of country music as a solo artist, winning back-to-back CMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards in 1982 and 1983. Her new CD is actually a re-release of a 2004 recording originally issued under the title The Bluegrass Sessions. It received limited promotion and marketing support, and is being re-released with a new title and packaging, and a new marketing campaign. Also different this time is touring support for the project. She is out regularly with The Roys, who open the show with their music, and then serve as Fricke's backup band. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and under either title this is an interesting bluegrass adaptation of some of Fricke's greatest country hits (Please Help Me I'm Falling, Do Me With Love, She s Single Again, You Don't Know Love, It Ain't Easy Bein' Easy). Produced, recorded and mixed by Bil VornDick, the instrumental and vocal backup is outstanding, as you would expect with the following roster: Mark Fain (bass); David Talbot (banjo); Randy Kohrs (dobro); Bob Mater (drums); Luke Bulla, Glen Duncan, Andy Leftwich, and Jimmy Mattingly (all contributing both mandolin and fiddle); Johnny Hiland (guitar); and Margie Cates, Chip Davis, and Judy Rodman (background vocals). Asked in an interview for Bluegrass Today what lead to her interest in bluegrass, Janie said it started many years ago through her friendship with Jim Lauderdale, who would regularly pass bluegrass CDs on to her. While doing bluegrass versions of her country hits was a natural bridge to the bluegrass world, she hopes to do a future bluegrass project comprised of new, and original material. With a voice like Janie Fricke's, which sounds just like I remember it from the albums my wife bought and wore out thirty years ago, she could sing the phonebook and sound good. However, her voice is unlike the mountain twang found in other recent country female vocalists on bluegrass projects, such as Patty Loveless and Dolly Parton. If you're a fan of Fricke's country music, or you want to hear a great and unique voice singing with bluegrass accompaniment, check this project out. The Country Side of Bluegrass is set to release on January 24, 2012. - James Gabehart, Bluegrass Today --Bluegrass Today

Thirty years ago, Janie Fricke would have been a household name in country radio. Now she is singing an excellent bluegrass style produced by Bill Vorndick, popular Nashville bluegrass producer, has produced a lot of Rhonda Vincent CDs. This set is a mix of some of her old hits and some other popular tunes. This mix has a real refreshing sound. Johnny Hiland sounds great playing acoustic guitar, he's a legend of a Nashville picker. His acoustic playing is so fluid, reminds me a bit of Tony Rice. He has some excellent company with David Talbot on banjo, Randy Kohrs on dobro, Andy Leftwich on fiddle, Glen Duncan and Jimmmy Mattingly on mandolin and fiddle. Then, we have Chip Davis, Margie Cates and Judy Rodman on background vocals. Mark Fain on bass and Bob Mater on drums keep the bottom line. Interesting, but, back in the day, Hiland was playing on her records. The Roys are now touring with Janie. My Favorite song on the disc is "Faithless Love" (J.D. Souther), which is a standard made popular by Linda Ronstadt in the Seventies. The Roys back her up on it on the show. It is a very beautiful version. This is sort of a sad heartbreak song. He's A Heartache (J.Silbar/L. Henley) - This was Fricke's third number one hit. It is a real upbeat toe tapper. It has more of Hiland's smooth guitar pickin'. I really like this version. Please Help Me, I'm Falling (In Love With You) (Blair/Robertson) - This is an old time country song that Janie did on the Opry many times, nice country tune. Down To My Last Broken Heart (C. Rains) - I like this popular song done in a bluegrass style. Ricky Skaggs sang harmony on the original version. I'll need Someone to Hold me (When I Cry) (Holyfield/Mcdill) - is a great song with a great message, the writer ,Bob Mcdill was popular in 1980 when this was released. She has always liked to do this song live. Ring Of Fire (June Carter Cash) - This is an iconic country song, Fricke really does it justice, In case you are not familiar with it, it was made popular by Johnny Cash and The Carter Family. Really nice guitar riffs by Hiland, just a splendid version. This is definitely a CD to buy, if you are a fan of country and bluegrass, Splendid! - Jim Moulton, No Depression --No Depression (blog)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. You Don't Know Love 3:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Goodbye Broken Heart 2:27$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Do Me With Love 3:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Faithless Love 3:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. He's A Heartache 2:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Please Help Me, I'm Falling (In Love With You) 2:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. She's Single Again 2:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. I'll Need Someone To Hold Me (When I Cry) 2:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Down To My Last Broken Heart 2:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Tell Me A Lie 2:50$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. It Ain't Easy Bein' Easy 3:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Don't Worry 'bout Me Baby 2:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. Ring Of Fire [Bonus Track] 2:41$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 2, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New Music Deals
  • Run Time: 37 minutes
  • ASIN: B006YH1UAC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,427 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter Durward Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 12, 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album was originally released as Bluegrass Sessions, but this re-issue does not credit the musicians or even the label that released it.

The album features thirteen tracks, all of them re-recordings of songs that Janie had previously recorded, then of which were big country hits for her. The other three include two songs that I'm familiar with by other artists (Faithless love, Ring of fire) and one (Goodbye broken heart) that I don't think I've heard before.

Some people won't accept re-recordings under any circumstances. I've always thought that to be a ridiculous attitude and this album shows why. I enjoy Janie's earlier hit versions (at least three of which were covers, these being I'll need someone to hold me when I cry (first recorded by Don Williams), Tell me a lie (first recorded by Lynn Anderson) and Please help me I'm falling, (the Hank Locklin classic) so they weren't original versions either), but as the album title implies, these recordings have a bluegrass feel to them.

From a bluegrass perspective, I find the music a little restrained, but perhaps that's how Janie wanted it. Certainly, these recordings showcase Janie's outstanding voice, whereas a high-energy bluegrass backing might have been a distraction.

Those who think that some of Janie's hits leaned too much towards pop-country should give this a listen - if only they can overcome any prejudice they might have against re-recordings.

I became a Janie Fricke fan at the beginning, when she burst I=on the scene with her debut album, Singer of songs. I remain a fan, but why is so little of her music available on CD? The singer who was twice CMA female vocalist of the year deserves better. Enjoy this album and whatever else is available while waiting for re-issue labels to show some interest in her music.
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Format: Audio CD
In the world of "country music", bluegrass is where it's happening now and some of the older, established hit makers of the early 1980s are trying new things to introduce themselves to new audiences and reconnect with their old fans. Indiana native Janie Fricke is the latest - with this new album..

In Fricke's definition of "bluegrass" you find some of the top fiddlers and banjo pickers in Nashville, add then to your core band of guitar, bass and drums and sing your heart out. That's exactly what Fricke does on this 13 track, 37-minute album.

Her big #1 hit " Don't Worry `Bout Me Baby", is here along with 13 others, all with the standard country lyrics about relationships. But, by adding the eight additional musicians (who take turns depending on the song) Fricke adds a new twist to her sound. Fricke fans will enjoy the exposure and maybe bluegrass fans - like those of Rhonda Vincent - will discover her for the first time.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Don Richards on March 18, 2012
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I recall Janie Fricke's country-radio days, and while I appreciated her talent, the songs had that 1970s production "quality". The "Country Side if Bluegrass" is how these songs should have been performed and produced. Fricke's voice is even stronger here, and the production is spot-on. Like Patty Loveless and Kathy Mattea, who have forsaken the country-pop radio realm for richer, more authentic country/folk/bluegrass, I think Janie Fricke has found her real niche. I sincerely hope she makes more of this music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Rion on January 14, 2013
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I have always liked Janie Fricke as a artist and although her name is not a household name as other female artist in the 80's she still had some big name hits also during this decade. In this album she records her past hits and some new singles with bluegrass music in the background. Her voice is still amazing and you can also hear the talent from the session players. I highly recommend this album.
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Format: Audio CD
Prime Cuts: She's Single Again, You Don't Know Love, Tell Me a Lie

"Country Side of Bluegrass" is a parsimonious gathering of a few acoustic playing musicians with Fricke performing thirteen of her hits and album cuts culled from Fricke's albums from her 80s heydays right up till "Tribute to Our Heroes." Despite being recorded over an amazing three day period (from 4/26/04 - 4/28/04), this album is by no means a slip slop, half-baked endeavor. With producer Bil VornDick-who mined similar territory for Ralph Stanley-providing the album's musical muscle, the album is understated, heartfelt and frankly, impressive. With the uncluttered sounding instrumentation, Fricke's voice is at the front and center of the mix. And Fricke sure has some affective pipes-she sings with an aching acquiescence common to some of her country music peers such as Tanya Tucker and Loretta Lynn. Such a vocal texture certainly served the former CMA Female Vocalist of the Year well on lachrymose ballads such as "Tell Me a Lie" and "It Ain't Easy Being Easy." Not since the late Tammy Wynette has anyone been able to so deftly expound on the loneliness as Fricke. Her performance here is par excellence-emotionally affecting, rich in intonations and nuanced with depth and dimension.

"You Don't Know Love," a Reba McEntire-ish ballad is the current single as well as a re-cut of her number 4 1984 hit. Revolving around the theme of kissing off an uncommitted lover, "You Don't Know Love" belies the bitter after taste of a love gone wrong. A nifty choice for the first single and to date the video has done very well on some country channels.
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