January 21, 2003
from: "Swingin' West"
Album: Swinging Broadway
Artist: John England & the Western Swingers
"Nashville, TN is the world of country music. However, therein are some fantastic musicians that love to play Western Swing. Six of these musicians make up John England and the Western Swingers."
"The band consists of John England playing guitar and also entertaining us with some really beautiful vocal work. Ricky Van Shelton's bandleader and steel player Tommy Hannum is heard on steel guitar and vocals. It is really a joy to listen to Tommy's steel breaks. Gene Pappy Merritts is on fiddle and vocal. Pappy has a long pedigree in bluegrass and country music and now demonstrates that he can really play Western Swing fiddle. On bass and vocals is David Spicher, the son of the legendary Buddy Spicher and a rising Nashville sideman in his own right. Randy Mason is heard on drums and vocals. He is the brother of guitarist Brent Mason and is also well respected in Nashville. Tom McBryde is on piano. Tom is Dollywood's musical director and a very versatile musician."
"The album opens with a really swinging rendition of the Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan memory Little Liza Jane. Other tunes from the Bob Wills library that are reprised are Jesse Ashlock's Kind Of Love I Can't Forget, Floyd Tillman's Makes No Difference Now, Fred Rose's Deep Water and Earl Fatha Hines' Rosetta. The only original tune on the album is a John England composition called, Your Turn To Cry. This has lots of hit song quality and just needs some airplay. The album also gives the band a chance to really swing on two instrumentals, Stumbling with a Dixieland feel and the polka paced Bill Boyd and the Cowboy Ramblers classic Under The Double Eagle. John and the band go to Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parrish for possibly popular music's greatest tune, Stardust. Another classic that is revisited is Jimmie Rodgers' Peach Pickin' Time In Georgia with Tommy Hannum handling the vocals, including the blue yodel. Pappy is in the vocal spotlight on Rex Griffin's composed, Hank Penny Western Swing classic Little Red Wagon. The album closes with Sweet Jenny Lee. This is an old Walter Donaldson composed popular music standard that was introduced to Western Swing by Milton Brown in the 1930s."
"This album can be obtained from John England, 209 Chesterton Ct, Madison, TN 37115 for $15. It can also be obtained from the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville (615-255-7503.)"
Mike Gross, WVOF-FM, Fairfield, CT