Johnny Paycheck

Jukebox Charlie and Other Songs That Make the Jukebox Play

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In typical fashion from his Little Darlin' period, Johnny Paycheck only credits pedal steel player Lloyd Green and producer Aubrey Mayhew -- as well as his equipment endorsements -- on the back cover. But uncredited appearances by musicians were commonplace in the 1960s and even into the 1970s thanks to Chet Atkins' notion of hit-factory assembly lines of musicians playing on as many as six records in a single day. Again, as on The Lovin' Machine, Paycheck stacks the deck with 14 tunes instead of the usual ten, and thematically this couldn't have been titled better. Jukebox Charlie and Other Songs That Make the Jukebox Play is chock full of just such musical animals. Here are killer renditions of the infamous "Apartment #9," "Down at Kelly's," "Motel Time Again," and "You Can Hear a Teardrop." These are all honky tonk drinking songs that are closer in spirit to the outlaw spirit of country that would flourish a few years later than what Willie and Waylon were doing -- and David Allan Coe wasn't in the game yet; he was in prison. This is thoroughly rooted in the hard honky tonk styles of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens but darker than either. Another significant aspect of the album is that Paycheck and Mayhew wrote over half the tracks on the set. Only Bobby Bare's "Motel Time Again" tops the originals on the album, and Paycheck's version arguably tops Bare's! Of the two closers on the album, "Then Love Dies" is one of the saddest songs Paycheck ever recorded, and "Malinche" is a near rockabilly tune in the Conway Twitty style, lyrically just plain stupid as it retells in erroneous fashion the Pocahontas story. It should have been left off the set, but it's a small complaint considering how fine, tough, and lean everything else here is.

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