Jeannie C. Riley

The Little Darlin' Sound of Jeannie C. Riley

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Koch's 2005 reissue The Little Darlin' Sound of Jeannie C. Riley is a reissue of her first album for Little Darlin', an album called Sock Soul that was released in 1968. As Tom Kittypaw points out in the liner notes, this is not that version of the LP, but instead a reconfigured version of the 12 songs that Capitol released in 1969 under the title of The Songs of Jeannie C. Riley, after she became a star in the wake of the smash hit "Harper Valley PTA." The 12 songs that comprise this LP are more straightforward country, even veering toward honky tonk, than the music that made her a star, but that's hardly to say that this is hardcore country -- after all, the verses on "You've Got Me Singing Nursery Rhymes" are punctuated by both steel guitar and electric sitar. Nevertheless, this album does fit into both the "Little Darlin' sound" -- a blend of ballads, novelties, and Texas two-steps -- and the contemporary sound of the late '60s, which slyly incorporated such hip flourishes as those sitars. While there are no knockout songs here, the 12 tunes are solid -- particularly Ed Bruce's "The Price I Pay to Stay" and the Johnny Paycheck songs "The Heart He Kicks Around" and "You've Got Me Singing Nursery Rhymes" (the latter co-written by Little Darlin' head honcho Aubrey Mayhew) -- but the appeal of this album lies in how it captures Riley as a raw, emerging talent and how it captures the sound of its time. So, it's an artifact, for Riley fans and aficionados of good, albeit generic, late-'60s country, but for those two camps, this is certainly more than worthwhile.

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