Various Artists

Beehives & Bumper Bullets: Country Girls of the 1960s

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With a compilation subtitled "Country Girls of the 1960s," you might expect, or at least hope for, a sampling of such giants as Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette (to pick three names mentioned in the liner notes). But while these are 22 tracks from female country singers of the '60s, these artists and selections are quite obscure. All of them were recorded for the Bullet/Sur-Speed and Spar labels, and none of these names are familiar even to country aficionados. Even the songwriting credits are unlikely to ring bells, with the exception of Tompall Glaser, who wrote Beverly Buff's "Back in Each Other's Arms Again." So don't pick this up as a survey of this genre, but on the other hand, if you're looking for off-the-beaten-track material in this vein, you could do worse. Though the songs and vocalists aren't earth shaking, and the production often treads the line between basic and thin, the tunes and performances are by and large pleasant. They're also representative of a few different approaches used in the period, from near-traditional and honky tonk (Penny Jay's "Lonesome Lovin' Diesel Drivin' Man" being a relative standout in that respect) to country-pop in the Nashville school mothered by the likes of Brenda Lee and Wanda Jackson (Ricky Page's "Making a Fool of Myself," probably the strongest track here). Yvonne DeVaney's "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" even admits a hint of Tex-Mex. It's true there aren't any lost gems here, but since little-known female '60s country-pop is anthologized far less often than rarities in many other styles (like '60s garage rock or '50s electric blues, to name just a couple), its availability is welcome. It's unfortunate that the original years of release aren't given for the tracks, however, and that, to quote from a blurb on the back cover, "these transfers contain imperfections which were inherent in the recording equipment and techniques of that time."