Sing & Play the Hits of Nashville

by: Peter & Gordon

Country-rock is usually thought of as a style that began in the late '60s, when giants such as the Byrds and Bob Dylan devoted much of their LP releases of the time to country material. However, there are numerous far less heralded instances of established rock stars playing country music prior to that era, sometimes over the course of an entire album. Peter & Gordon's 1966 LP Sing & Play the Hits of Nashville is one such example, finding the British Invasion duo devoting more or less an entire record to covers of country songs by the likes of Buck Owens, Hank Locklin, and Hank Williams. The pair's affection for country music was genuine, even if some of it might have been absorbed indirectly through white rock acts who were heavily country-influenced, such as one of the groups that served as their prime inspirations, the Everly Brothers. Still, like some other overlooked pre-late-'60s LPs of rock acts doing country material, Sing & Play the Hits of Nashville doesn't add up to much more than a footnote, as Peter & Gordon's forte was British Invasion pop/rock, not country music. It's a pleasantly competent affair that does use Nashville country-like touches in the arrangements such as steel guitar and barroom piano, though "Please Help Me, I'm Falling" has somewhat out of place bombastic orchestration, and the final track steers them back into rock & roll territory with a cover of Chuck Berry's "Memphis." In all, it sounds kind of like Nashville country as filtered through the Everly Brothers, without the high points of either the Everlys or the Nashville country genre as a whole. It didn't start trends or launch a new direction for the duo either, missing the charts entirely. ~ Richie Unterberger

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