A Proper Introduction to Tennessee Ernie Ford: Rock City Boogie

by: Tennessee Ernie Ford

Tennessee Ernie Ford's installment in Proper's big series of inexpensive but lavishly packaged import anthologies compiles 30 cuts from his early Capitol years, when his repertoire was overwhelmingly comprised of boogies and novelties. These are widely regarded as Ford's best recordings, even though his recording career extended well into the '70s. These sides have been reissued many times over, from Capitol's Vintage Collections to Jasmine's His Original and Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: The Shot-Gun Boogie, and many others besides. Proper's entry takes advantage of European copyright law, which stipulates that music recordings fall into the public domain after 50 years, and uses commercial masters instead of the original tapes as its source material. Nevertheless, the sound quality is very good and most listeners won't notice the difference. This collection is particularly enticing for its generous number of tracks and the attractive foldout digipack containing notes and photos. The anthology isn't a greatest-hits collection per se because nothing from later than 1953 is included, which means that Ford's best-known hit, "Sixteen Tons," is not here, nor are other big hits such as "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" or "Hicktown." What is included is enticing enough: Ford's good-natured performances of jumping, proto-rock boogies feature top-notch session work by the likes of Jimmy Bryant, Speedy West, Joe "Fingers" Carr, and Merle Travis, as well as duet vocal turns by Kay Starr, the Dinning Sisters, and Helen O'Connell. For the price, it is an impressively fine package. ~ Greg Adams

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