Progressive guitar slinger Bob Regan and Lucille Starr began their legendary musical partnership by recording incendiary rockabilly sides for smaller regional imprints in Canada and America, originally performing as "Bob and Lucille." Fully thirty of their smokin' hot hillbilly sides are included on Hydra's indispensable anthology CANADIAN SWEETHEARTS: EENY MEENY MINEY MOE. Their annus mirabilis was 1964, when they signed with A&M in Hollywood and, produced by Herb Alpert and Dorsey Burnette, laid down a self-titled honkytonk duets album as well as Lucille's classic solo album titled after her bilingual global hit (on which rests only a small portion of her enduring fame, as in the Netherlands where she is rightly venerated as a rockabilly/country/Acadian fusion goddess).
The wedded boppers had received needed gloss in L.A., laid on even more thickly by Billy Sherrill in Nashville in 1967-68 (and somewhat diluting their northerly uniqueness). These albums and forgotten followup singles are especially polished, in Sherrill's proprietary Tammy Wynette style, but the material is not always an ideal fit for either the close-harmony duo or the soulful North Country soloist. These are Bob and Lucille's last duets, and the novelty songs haven't worn well. The slower songs are, however, achingly beautiful in their exquisitely meshed harmonies, with Bob singing smooth parallel thirds under Lucille's passionate melody lines in her trademark vibrato which she controls and unleashes only when the lyric demands it (and Starr growls ferociously on "Side by side"). These harmonies are so close they could well be scripted, or notated, a far cry from newer country "duets" which never actually mesh and only mimic whitebread call-and-response singing. Among the duets the keepers are "Canadian sunset" and "Have I told you lately that I love you?"
Lucille made her Nashville solos in 1968 (Wynette's big breakthrough year with "Stand by your man"), with the same Tammyesque production values and Starr's surer and fully emancipated technique. She delivers a heartbreaking cover of "Too far gone," overdubbing her own Bobless harmony, the answer song "Who's gonna stand by me?" (cf. Tammy's smash) and two of her proprietary bilingual signature hits, "Cajun love" and "(Bonjour tristesse) Hello sadness." This is better material, Starr and Sherrill both working in familiar comfy grooves, and these solos are Lucille at her highest and most ambitious post-A&M vocal peak.
The bonus tracks are equally fine uncollected singles, closing out Starr's Epic contract, with three more songs that fully summarize her ballad artistry, "I don't trust me around you," "Is it love?" and "Lonely too long." Like Melba Montgomery, Wanda Jackson or Jean Shepard, Lucille Starr's deeper country grooves may radicalize your fixed notions of how country music can be more authentically and authoritatively sung by fully empowered women. Starr is a unique artiste, she is very Canadian, and once heard this singular voice and uncompromising style stay with the listener forever (old rockabilly Bob's pretty good too).
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I remember listening to Lucille Starr in the 60s, and for so long I have tried to get the album and then recently I just typed in Lucille Starr and voila, I now have my cd and with millions of sentimental memories and to this day I still adore her music, so now I can continue to listen to those golden days when Lucille started out.
Thanks Amazon for re-erupting my youth with this awsome cd of Lucille Starr.
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