Jimmie Rodgers, Classic Sides

Alex Abramovich

By Alex Abramovich

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
“The Singing Brakeman” was the first country star and if you ask us, he was also the best.

Born in 1897 near Pine Springs, Mississippi and discovered 30 years later in Bristol, Tennessee, yodeling railroad man Jimmie Rodgers was the father of country music, one of the first artists to mix blues, jazz and old-timey inflections, and a clear influence on every hillbilly musician to follow. (His devotees include Gene Autry and Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell and Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash.) This exhaustive five-disc retrospective includes the classics "Blue Yodel," "In the Jailhouse Now," the Kelly Harrell cover "Away Out on the Mountain" and "The Sailor's Pleas." The sound quality is exceptional, and Rodgers 'personality, which combined humor and tomfoolery with a sense of fatalism and, finally, dread, comes through loud and clear.