The Penny Opus #1

by: Hank Penny & His California Cowhands

The Penny Opus #1 is completely overshadowed by Bloodshot Revival's collection of Hank Penny's complete Standard transcriptions, Crazy Rhythm: The Standard Transcriptions, which has all 22 of these tracks plus eight others. That alone makes The Penny Opus #1 -- with its inferior packaging, notes, and sound quality -- thoroughly redundant, although it at least costs a few dollars less. Penny's duet with a young Jaye P. Morgan on the Arthur Godfrey hit "I Like the Wide Open Spaces" and his cover of the Bill Davis Trio's "Catch 'Em Young, Treat 'Em Rough, and Tell 'Em Nothing" were omitted, both of which are well worth hearing. As for the performances that do appear, Penny leads his hot Western swing band through a program of novelties in the vein of Tex Williams. Penny could match Williams' talking blues style, but usually sang. A couple of instrumentals, including the intriguingly titled "Progressive Country Music for a Hollywood Flapper," showcase the talented supporting players. These transcriptions were made in 1951, but Penny didn't re-record his King hits from a couple of years earlier; those can be found on the Westside anthology Hillbilly Bebop. ~ Greg Adams

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