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American Music: The Hightone Records Story Box set

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, April 1, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hightone has been a force in roots music since '83, and this set celebrates their already-impressive legacy with 79 tracks and 16 videos! Videos by Dave Alvin, Joe Ely, Rosie Flores, Lonesome Strangers and more join Phone Booth Robert Cray; Tore Up Otis Rush; Going down South R.L. Burnside; California Sun Dick Dale; American Music Blasters; Ramblin' Fever Billy Joe Shaver; Dallas Jimmie Dale Gilmore; cuts by Ramblin' Jack Elliott with John Prine and Tom Waits an amazing (and nicely priced for all this) set!


With few exceptions, these are tough times for artists who perform American roots music. It was much the same in the early '80s, when the feisty, Oakland-based Hightone Records coalesced around pals Bruce Bromberg and Larry Sloven. Under their stewardship, Hightone championed blues, country, and folk musicians and singer-songwriters and aided in the birth of the Americana movement--which in turn yielded a radio format and magazines like No Depression. These 79 songs on four CDs and a DVD of music videos are a compendium of Hightone's accomplishments and, in many cases, the footprints of creative giants within those genres. Each disc is defined by style. The blues roster includes Robert Cray's breakthrough hit "Smokin' Gun," which helped launch the genre's '80s revival, as well as performances by Delta heroes Pinetop Perkins and Johnny Shines, Chicago legend Otis Rush, and such potent contemporary players as Kim Wilson, Joe Louis Walker, and R.L. Burnside. The country CD also gets high marks, with underground giants Gary Stewart, Buddy Miller, Big Sandy, and Dale Watson kicking up dust. With Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Tom Russell, Dave Alvin, Chris Smither, and Dylan influence Ramblin' Jack Elliott paired with Tom Waits on the folk/singer-songwriter disc, it also offers plenty of good listening. Hightone's rock history comes up short overall, with fairly pedantic playing and writing from most of its signings. The strongest exceptions are Joe Ely, the Blasters, and former Blasters songwriter-guitarist Alvin, who was Hightone's most diverse and wide-ranging talent before leaving recently for Yep Roc. The disc of videos is a blast. They're either live affairs by the likes of Alvin and Stewart or low-budget studio shoots from the days when the medium was innocent. There's also a lavish, colorful 123-page book featuring a well-written history of the label, a foreword by Alvin, and a story for every song in this often-delightful set. --Ted Drozdowski

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Phone Booth -- Robert Cray Band
  2. Stoned, Cold, & Blue -- Frankie Lee
  3. Tore Up -- Otis Rush
  4. Smoking Gun -- Robert Cray
  5. 747 -- Joe Louis Walker
  6. Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark -- Phillip Walker
  7. I Want To (Do Everything For You) -- King Cotton And The Swamp Coolers
  8. I'll Get To Heaven On My Own -- Joe Louis Walker
  9. Moaning And Groaning -- Johnny Shines
  10. They Call Me Sundown -- Lonesome Sundown
  11. Sugar Bee -- Chris Gaffney
  12. The Devil's Livin' There -- James Armstrong
  13. Going Down South -- R.L. Burnside
  14. It's A Minor Thing -- Redd Volkaert
  15. Fast Food Slow Death -- Clarence Brewer
  16. Eyesight To The Blind -- Kim Wilson
  17. Miss Ida B. -- Pinetop Perkins
  18. How Could You Do It -- Henry Gray
  19. September 11th Blues -- Louisiana Red

Disc: 2

  1. American Music -- The Blasters
  2. Lord Of The Highway -- Joe Ely
  3. Flattop Joint -- Sonny Burgess with Dave Alvin
  4. Blue Collar Blues -- Billy Lee Riley
  5. Lickin' Stick -- The Loved Ones
  6. California Sun -- Dick Dale
  7. Sparkling City -- Ted Roddy
  8. I Ain't Lyin' -- The Skeletons
  9. Lonely Guy -- Big Sandy
  10. Telewacker -- Redd Volkaert
  11. Bullet From A Gun -- Teddy Morgan & The Pistolas
  12. Open The Door To Your Heart -- Little Willie G
  13. The Honky Tonk Wine -- Carl Sonny Leyland
  14. Saturday Jump -- Kim Lenz
  15. Hot Rodder's Lament -- Deke Dickerson
  16. Rockabilly Funeral -- The TwangBangers feat. Bill Kirchen
  17. Fourth Of July -- Dave Alvin
  18. Hollywood Bed -- The Blasters
  19. Little Bitty Kiss -- Buddy Miller
  20. Jug Hustler Blues -- Seth Kauffman
  21. Eve Of Destruction -- PF Sloan w/ Frank Black and Buddy Miller

Disc: 3

  1. Let's Start A Rumor Today -- Bobby Durham
  2. Rainin' Rainin' Rainin' -- Gary Stewart
  3. Goodbye Lonesome, Hello Baby Doll -- Lonesome Strangers
  4. The Garage Sale -- Buddy Miller
  5. Stay Out Of My Arms -- Heather Myles
  6. Room 309 -- Reverend Billy C. Wirtz
  7. Honky Tonk Queen -- Big Sandy & his Fly-Rite Boys
  8. Ramblin' Fever -- Billy Joe Shaver
  9. I'm Pretending -- Buddy Miller
  10. Corpus Christi Bay -- Johnny Rodriguez
  11. Wine Don't Lie -- Dale Watson
  12. The Greatest Story Ever Told -- Big Sandy & his Fly-Rite Boys
  13. Comin' On Thru -- Johnny Dilks & His Vistacion Valley Boys
  14. Little Ole You -- The Hollisters
  15. Sting In This Ole Bee -- Hank Thompson
  16. Here I Am In Dallas -- Dallas Wayne
  17. Truck Drivin' Man -- The TwangBangers
  18. It Stops With Me -- The Hot Club Of Cowtown
  19. Dark End Of The Hallway -- Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
  20. Walk Away If You Want To -- The Domino Kings
  21. Birth Of The Blues -- Whit Smith's Hot Jazz Caravan

Disc: 4

  1. My Baby Thinks She's French -- Joe Ely
  2. Rainin' Rainin' Rainin -- Gary Stewart
  3. Just Can't Cry No More -- Lonesome Strangers
  4. Why Did She Stay With Him -- Dave Alvin
  5. Blue Highway -- Rosie Flores
  6. King Of California -- Dave Alvin
  7. Rum And Rodeo -- Heather Myles
  8. South Of Round Rock, Texas -- Dale Watson
  9. My Sinful Days Are Over -- Big Sandy & his Fly-Rite Boys
  10. The Rose Of The San Joaquin -- Tom Russell
  11. You Can't Wrap Your Arms Around A Memory -- Marty Brown
  12. You Can Say That Again -- Johnny Rodriguez
  13. Lovin' The Bottle -- Heather Myles
  14. An Empty Glass -- Gary Stewart
  15. Honky Tonk Moon -- Rosie Flores
  16. Barn Burning -- Dave Alvin
  17. En La Central De Colima -- Los Reales Del Rancho
  18. Tonight We Ride -- Tom Russell

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 1, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Shout Factory
  • ASIN: B000H8SFLQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,771 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas E. Davis VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
HighTone, a Bay Area company, produced American roots music from 1983 to 2008, when its catalog was sold to Shout Factory. It was home to such modern greats as Robert Cray, Dave Alvin and The Blasters, Otis Rush, Pinetop Perkins, Joe Ely, Buddy Miller, Joe Louis Walker, Rosie Flores, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Tom Russell, Heather Myles, and dozens of others. Revivalists will love the variety of tracks on the four CDs in this 2006 box set. While the rock CD is admittedly padded with some lesser lights, the blues, country, and singer/songwriter CDs more than make up for it. Throw in a DVD of live performances and music videos from 16 HighTone artists and a thick, colorfully-illustrated book, and you're in for a treat.
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If you like music that's fun, interesting , well played, a little silly, foot stomping you will love this set of 4 cd's. Most reviewers seem to not be too crazy about the ROCK cd set , I love it ! CAN'T GO WRONG !
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By SmokyLinks on February 13, 2009
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Lots of great tunes on this set, glad I got it for a good price, because there are a lot of throw aways too.
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