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Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Hillbilly Music: 1947

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12/9/2008

Review

Germany's Bear Family is well known for its stellar box set reissues of country, rock, and rhythm & blues recordings, as well as for single titles by deserving if not necessarily remembered American artists. Their mastering, production, and packaging set the industry standard for excellence. The six-volume Dim Lights, Thick Smoke series was released on CD in December of 2008 and covered the years 1945-1950, a strange and wonderful time in country music history born from of the end of the War Department's restrictions on shellac and the end of the recording ban, all near the end of the second world war. These discs all contain either 27 or 28 tracks, and are lavishly annotated with historical essays and track by track annotation by the esteemed Colin Escott, and contain with photographs of performers and record sleeves where available. The third volume in this series covers the year 1947, and offers a portrait of a year rife with hillbilly boogie classics. The South and the Southwest must have been feeling heady in the post war years, because the music here -- even in the ballads -- reflects a sense of well being, fun, and even hedonism. The set opens with Tex Williams' nugget "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! That Cigarette!" Despite the fact that the Commander Cody version has transplanted it in popular culture memory, it doesn't touch the original for its stellar musicianship, dry-drawl delivery, and knee-slapping humor. It cooks as a transitional piece of Western swing to hillbilly boogie, and it's easy to hear rock & roll's roots in this music. Other harder-driven tunes are Maddox Brothers & Rose's "Milk Cow Boogie," Hank Williams' "Move It on Over," Jack Guthrie's "Oakie Boogie," and Merle Travis' "So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed." That said, there are a number of fine ballads in the set as well, such as Cowboy Copas' "Signed Sealed and Delivered," and Eddy Arnold's "I'll Hold You in My Heart 'Til I Can Hold You in My Arms." Another smoking number is the wild, raw, and outrageous "Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers off of Me," by Fairley Holden. The sound quality here is wonderfully warm, full, and present. This collection adds immeasurably to the series. ~ Thom Jurek
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) Tex Williams & the Western Caravan 2:52
  3. 2 It's a Sin Eddy Arnold & His Tennessee Plowboys 2:23
  4. 3 Sugar Moon Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys 2:30
  5. 4 Cigarettes, Whusky, and Wild, Wild Women The Sons of the Pioneers 2:52
  6. 5 Cocaine Blues Billy Hughes 2:32
  7. 6 Milk Cow Blues The Maddox Brothers & Rose 3:7
  8. 7 Foggy River Moon Mullican & the Showboys 2:48
  9. 8 I'll Step Aside Ernest Tubb 2:38
  10. 9 Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain Roy Acuff & His Smokey Mountain Boys 2:40
  11. 10 Freight Train Boogie The Delmore Brothers 2:43
  12. 11 So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed Merle Travis 2:56
  13. 12 Signed, Sealed and Delivered Cowboy Copas 2:34
  14. 13 I'll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms) Eddy Arnold & His Tennessee Plowboys 2:40
  15. 14 Move It on Over Hank Williams 2:42
  16. 15 Never Trust a Woman Red Foley 3:8
  17. 16 Shenandoah Waltz Clyde Moody 2:44
  18. 17 Oakie Boogie Jack Guthrie & His Oklahomans 2:32
  19. 18 New Pretty Blonde (New Jole Blon) Moon Mullican & the Showboys 2:58
  20. 19 Rockin' Chair Money Bill Carlisle 2:56
  21. 20 The Tramp on the Street The Cumberland Mountain Folks 2:47
  22. 21 Sunny Side of the Mountain Hawkshaw Hawkins 2:54
  23. 22 Keep Them Cold Icey Fingers off of Me Fairley Holden & His Six Ice Cold Papas 2:44
  24. 23 Blue Moon of Kentucky Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys 3:1
  25. 24 Bringin' in the Georgia Mail Charlie Monroe & the Kentucky Pardners 2:50
  26. 25 Dust on the Bible The Bailes Brothers 2:53
  27. 26 I've Found a Hiding Place Carl Story & His Melody Four Quartet 2:50
  28. 27 Canned Heat Chet Atkins & His Colorado Mountain Boys 2:31

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