Jack Bradshaw

Honky Tonk Heroes: Saturday Night Special

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Jack Bradshaw received some acclaim as a songwriter -- Carl Smith recorded his "Don't Tease Me" and Kitty Wells based her "Searchin' (For Someone Else)" on his "Searchin'" -- but he never had much commercial success outside of his home base of Indiana and surrounding states. Bear Family's 2012 compilation Saturday Night Special, part of their ongoing Honky Tonk Heroes series, argues that his talents as a singer and writer deserved a wider audience and it's fairly convincing. Bradshaw had a hand in writing all but four of the 22 songs on this compilation of songs recorded for Mar-Vel, Decca, and Glenn between 1954 and 1960, and they're sturdy little tunes in the vein of Hank Williams, melodically nimble and lyrically sharp. He was an amiable vocalist, perhaps just a shade too indebted to his inherent Midwestern politeness; as he sings his smile is evident, so these sides don't feel as earthy as most straight-ahead '50s country. Nevertheless, this friendliness is ingratiating as are his songs, particularly the light double entendres on "My Heart, My Heart," the weeper "Don't Cause Me to Hate You," and the two aforementioned covers by Smith and Wells. This isn't monumental stuff but it is likeable, which is enough to make it worthwhile.

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