Joey Bishop

Joey Bishop Sings Country & Western

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A classic album of the Golden Throats genre, Joey Bishop Sings Country & Western has everything the ironic listener could want in a celebrity vocal record: a woeful mismatch of artist and material, inept performances, and a hilarious album cover. Sporting a photo of the Bronx-born comedian/actor posing in a gaudy Nudie suit against a Western backdrop, Joey Bishop Sings Country & Western features the weak-voiced singer warbling country standards, with a particular emphasis on the songs of Hank Williams. "Born to Lose" could be the theme song for Bishop's singing career, and "Listen, They're Playing My Song" makes one wish they weren't. Ernie Freeman produced and arranged the album in the countrypolitan style with a pop vocal chorus and strings, so that portion of the production is as slick and professional as any major-label country album. Bishop's voice is low in the mix, perhaps to minimize its impact, which was a poor artistic choice in retrospect for today's listeners who want to hear Bishop's incompetence in all its glory. The liner notes by Dean Martin, Ernie Freeman, and Glen Campbell are additional sources of hilarity -- especially Martin's, which are backhanded enough (in a good-natured way) to convey something of the absurdity of the endeavor. Of course, if the whole project weren't so serious, it wouldn't be as funny.