The Texas Tornado ORIGINAL RECORDINGS REMASTERED
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October 1951 was a milestone for a young man from Texas who was literally taking the 'Billboard Charts' by storm, like a Texas Tornado, it was said. A shy young man with a distinctive drawl had four records sitting in the top ten of the charts simultaneously, Always "Always Late", "Mom And Dad's Waltz", "I Want To Be With You Always" and "Travellin' Blues" (all of which are featured on this CD). This feat has never been repeated by a Country music star. Who was this 'Texas Tornado'?, his name was Lefty Frizell. Many Country stars have citied Lefty Frizell as one of the major influences and contributors to Country music. He was inducted into the Country music Hall of Fame in 1982, seven years after his untimely death at the young age of 47. It is a lasting testament to his influence that recording artists are today still covering his songs.
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Lefty signed for Columbia in 1950 and immediately struck big with a string of hits, several of which made number one while others made the top ten. At the time, Hank Williams was the biggest star in country music. Lefty offered him stiff competition, as Hank acknowledged but the two nevertheless became close friends. Sadly, both were addicted to alcohol and neither lived to draw their pensions although Lefty, who lived to be 47, had a much longer life than Hank, who died aged 29. Both became country music legends, with their original successes being reinforced by countless cover versions of their songs in the time since, including entire tribute albums. By contrast, Webb Pierce scarcely gets a mention these days because covers of his songs are far scarcer than covers of Lefty's and Hank's songs.
The big country hits here include If you've got the money I've got the time, I love you a thousand ways, Give me more more more, Always late with your kisses, I want to be with you always and Look what thoughts will do. Country music fans will recognize some of these songs even if they've never heard Lefty's own music. In particular, Willie Nelson recoded several of them. Lefty's own biggest influence was Jimmie Rodgers, the singing brakeman. He covered several of Jimmie's songs including Travelling blues (a top ten country hit), Brakeman's blues, Treasure untold, Blue yodel #6, My rough and rowdy ways, Never no mo' blues and I'm lonely and blue, all of which are included here.
Later in his career but outside the scope of this compilation, Lefty had success with Long black veil, Saginaw Michigan (a number one country hit), She's gone gone gone, I never go around mirrors and Railroad lady among others. Like the big hits mentioned earlier, covers of these songs, especially by Willie Nelson, are easy to find. He also wrote That's the way love goes, perhaps the best song from his later years, but his label put it on a B-side. Johnny Rodriguez had a number one country hit with his cover of it in the seventies. Merle Haggard matched that achievement in the eighties (and later re-recorded the song as a duet with Jewel). Lefty's versions of all these songs have been made available on other CD's but aren't here.
This may not be the definitive Lefty Frizzell compilation, but it provides an excellent introduction to his music. If you must have his later hits, of which I've mentioned the most important, look for a different compilation. I'll do that myself someday, but this will do for starters.