Wayne Raney

Songs of the Hills

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One of the great country harmonica players, Raney also qualifies as as one of the most important harmonica players in the history of American pop, as he was one of the first musicians of any sort to fuse country and blues. This 16-cut collection in effect functions as a best-of, including the big hits "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me," "Lost John Boogie," and "Jack and Jill Boogie." Despite what the title might lead you believe, it's not exactly rural country-folk--it's hard-driving early country boogie with a decidedly urban influence. With the Delmore Brothers on backup, "Jack and Jill Boogie" in particular sounds like proto-rockabilly, with lengthy back-and-forth guitar exchanges that are about as close to White rock 'n' roll as anyone got in 1948. Despite the no-frills package (even a bit of historical information and liner notes would have been nice), it's the best available anthology of this somewhat overlooked country and pop pioneer.

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