Various Artists

Hillbillies in Hell: Country Music's Tormented Testament

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Light in the Attic's 2016 compilation Hillbillies in Hell: Country Music's Tortured Testament (1952-1974) digs deep into odd, forgotten recesses of country music, discovering independently pressed laments about dope and the devil. Two of the names will be familiar to country fans -- Margie Singleton, with her inspirational anthem "Jesus Is My Pusher," and Cowboy Copas, who warns "Don't Shake Hands with the Devil" -- but most of the featured 18 tracks echo other better-known country singers, usually Johnny Cash. What matters is neither the singer nor the quality of the song, but rather the subject and the feel. Everything here is just slightly askew, sounding like a 45 stashed away on a dusty jukebox in a forgotten roadhouse but the lyrics push this into an odd, uneasy dimension. This dissonance is what's compelling, of course: it's either laughable or haunting -- signs of the deep, strange undercurrents running throughout American culture in a time of upheaval.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Harry Snyder & The Buttermilk Drinkers / Harry Snyder 02:55 Amazon
2
LSD
Wendell Austin 01:59 Amazon
3 Johnny Price 02:46 Amazon
4 Red River Dave 02:13 Amazon
5 Jimmy Minor 01:57 Amazon
6 Benny Joy 02:48 Amazon
7 Billy Barton 02:33 Amazon
8 Jack Cook 02:12 Amazon
9 Margie Singleton 02:30 Amazon
10 Cowboy Copas 02:11 Amazon
11 Louis Innis 02:28 Amazon
12 Don Bailey 02:55 Amazon
13 Jesse Bruce 02:09 Amazon
14 Johnny Tyler 02:10 Amazon
15 The Up-Town Four / Art Killmer 02:06 Amazon
16 Buck Ritchey 02:29 Amazon
17 Wayne, Pat & Keith 02:09 Amazon
18 Sunshine Boys 02:00 Amazon
19 Bill Anderson 02:32 Amazon
20 Jimmy Newman 04:00 Amazon
21 Buddy Knox 02:07 Amazon
22 Eddie Noack 03:37 Amazon
23 Buddy Long 02:27 Amazon
24
Jack Leonard 02:55 Amazon
25 Johnny David 02:21 Amazon
26 Billy Strange 02:38 Amazon
27
Johnny ‘Pee Wee’ Blaine 02:41 Amazon
28 David Beatty / The Harmonettes 01:47 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick