Big Al Hayes

Nashville Hillbilly Underground

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AllMusic Review by

Do hillbillies really have to go "underground" in Nashville, of all places, or is the title a joke? Some listeners might come to the conclusion that there is nothing underground about the music on this CD at all, especially not in Nashville. After all, despite the title and the look of the hippie guy wearing a toque on the cover, this is old-time, straight-ahead country music delivered with a normal, attractive masculine voice. The subjects of the songs, such as lost love, lives gone wrong, corn bread, shoes, and Jesus Christ, are all pretty typical for country music too. So, what is so underground? But all such questions are based on a complete misunderstanding of the Nashville scene, which hasn't supported this type of pure country and western music at all since the '70s. Doubters would be advised to examine the career of Fiddlin' Arthur Smith. Despite being one of the greatest, most influential fiddlers in country music, Smith was forced to work as a carpenter during one of his Nashville stays. Hayes is nowhere near the Smith level of talent, but he certainly makes fine country music. And his chances of being picked up by a Nashville talent scout are slim to zip, with Slim having just left town. That is, unless he woke up tomorrow morning looking like one of the Dixie Chicks. Hayes was off to Montana after this recording was released, according to the liner notes. Here's hoping there are more recordings on the way from this talented, entertaining, and sometimes even moving songwriter and performer.

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