In the 1950s, Elvis Presley encouraged Jackson to sing rockabilly. She was notable for writing and performing her own independent and forceful songs, says rock historian Ed Ward. Her sexual persona matched Presley's, but proved to be a detriment to her career -- so she returned to country music.
Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews two new country albums by women singers. Carlene Carter's I Fell in Love features her first hit song; Kelly Willis's Well Traveled Love showcases her rich voice. Both records are uneven but satisfying.
Rock critic Ken Tucker says critical darlings David Berwald and John Hiatt are striving for a commercial sound, but their new, dolorous albums fall flat. On the other hand, Steve Earle's The Hard Way -- the latter half at least -- delivers the goods.
Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews what he thinks are some of the best new albums on independent labels...The Spanic Boys' debut album on Rounder Records and Ben Vaughn's new album on Enigma, "Dressed in Black."
Rock historian Ed Ward plays us some tracks from the "Million Dollar Quartet" sessions. It was an early 60s recording date at the Sun Studios in Memphis, featuring Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.
Musicians Tom and Ian Spanic. Together, the pair form the rock and roll band, The Spanic Boys. The band plays a country-twang influenced type of rock and they just released their first album, also called "The Spanic Boys." It's on Rounder Records.
Rock historian Ed Ward examines the performers that led the way for Jerry Lee Lewis. Lewis burst on the scene in the late 50s, but Ed shows that lots of other guys were pounding the keys way before the killer.
Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews new albums by Webb Wilder and the quintet Billy Hill. Webb Wilder's "Hybrid Vigor" is an outsider's eccentric blend of rock and roll livened up with country, blues and rockabilly. Billy Hill has produced an album with a different type of eccentricity --they're Nashville insiders whose oddball act gives an edge to their country music.
Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews "Too Long in the Wasteland," the debut album of singer and songwriter James McMurtry. Like his father, the novelist Larry McMurtry, James McMurtry writes of the drifters and loners of the high plains.
Musician Lucinda Williams. She's been playing the folk and country scenes for most of the 80s, but her new album, titled "Lucinda Williams," is a type of straight-ahead story telling that crosses genres. Many listeners think of Williams as a folk singer, but in this album, Williams fronts a rock band.