What made Texas native William Orville "Lefty" Frizzell so pleasant to listen to was his resonant, warm, and mellifluous voice, beautifully tempered in tones pitched not so high nor quite so nasal as those of his Eastern counterparts Hank Williams and Webb Pierce. Whether crooning under the spell of love and heartache or percolating in his irresistibly upbeat good-time honky tonk manner, Lefty had a stage persona so stylish and magnetic that country singers have been trying like hell to emulate him ever since. This excellent compilation focuses on his Columbia recordings from 1950 to 1953. With only one exception -- Aubrey Freeman's "You Want Everything But Me" -- the tunes assembled here were composed either by Jimmie Rodgers or Frizzell himself. Each performance is delivered with disarming ease by Frizzell's solid little band. A closer look at the enclosed discography reveals the fact that between 1950 and 1953 there were no less than 28 musicians whose polished expertise helped to make these records sound so fine. In addition to Frizzell there were three different lead guitarists (Norman Stevens, Jimmy Rollins, and Roy Nichols), three who played rhythm, and seven steel players, including the great Curly Chalker, who also handled Dobro. Five different fiddlers, six double bassists, and six drummers are heard on this collection. Lefty's pianists during these early years were Madge Sutee, Evelyn Rowley, and Harold Carmack. Wayne Raney was the featured harmonica player except when Frizzell himself blew the mouth harp on five out of the six Jimmie Rodgers tunes. While later recordings can and do speak volumes about his personal tribulations and the human condition in general, these early sides are the keystone of Lefty Frizzell's recorded legacy.
Share this page