The bluegrass audience has claimed Jim Eanes as one of their own, but his early Decca recordings combine country music's stock rhythm and steel guitar with Hubert Davis' bluegrass banjo for a hybrid style that many people would not consider bluegrass, although it is not much different from his later Starday recordings. Recorded between 1952 and 1955, and predating the Starday sessions many fans believe yielded his best work, Eanes' Decca sides reflect the trends and concerns of their time. "In a Little Spanish Restaurant" is a country rhumba of the sort that Hank Snow often recorded, while "I'm No Communist" and "They Locked God Outside the Iron Curtain" address the Cold War. "Little Brown Hand," an ode to a dark-skinned girl, is an adaptation of the (minstrel era?) folk song "Little Yellow Gal," while "Wiggle Worm Wiggle" and "Kiss Me! Kiss Me!" represent Eanes' foray into the world of novelty songs. Decca reportedly pushed Eanes toward a more commercial country sound, so "Don't Hand Me That Stuff" and "Sweet Lovin' Baby" prominently feature the electric guitars of session players such as Chet Atkins and Hank Garland without entirely abandoning his established style. The presence of more traditional material, including waltzes and a number of banjo breakdowns, may serve as a counterweight for bluegrass purists, but the anthology is a mixed bag whatever one's tastes. None of Eanes' Decca recordings reached the national charts, but his long career and the enduring interest in his Starday recordings more than justify this look at a neglected chapter of his career.
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