Nashville has a significant music history that goes way beyond the country music that the city is best known for and the SPV label has just released half a dozen archival collections that showcase some other sides of Music City.
Nashville Rockabilly 1957-1987
Cherokee, Kit and Champion were Nashville-based labels that put out singles by artists like Baker Knight who had a minor hit with the rollicking "Bring My Cadillac Back," included here. You probably haven't heard of most of these artists (even masked Elvis impersonator Orion records here under his real name, Jimmy Ellis) but their employment of twanging guitars, thumping upright bass, greasy sax and hiccupping vocals rivals that of big stars like Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. Moon Mullican, Whitey Pullen and Chuck Harrod & the Anteaters are a few of many who contribute to this 22-track compilation.
Downtown Soul from the Nashville Indies
Just like with rockabilly you may think more of Memphis when you think of soul music made in Tennessee but Nashville labels like Ref-O-Ree and Tee-Jay thrived during the late '60s and early '70s and most of the gems here, many previously unavailable on CD, are from the Ref-O-Ree catalog. Included are cuts from Rufus Hunter, Wendell Watts, Freddie Waters and instrumental group Little Rock Brotherhood who sound like a funkier version of Chicago.
Rare 1960's Country Rock from Nashville
The definition of country rock is used fairly loosely for the purpose of this 22-cut compilation; "It's Been a Long Long Time" by Steve Bess, for example, is pure old-time country reminiscent of early Faron Young that has no hint whatsoever of rock to it. This one is not for country rockers but for fans of artists like Ray Price.
Jump, Blues & Ballads
From the archives of Bullet Records, this set brings exactly what the title indicates: jump tunes like the '40s rave-up "Rag Mop" by Chuck Merrill, ballads like "I Wonder" by Cecil Grant and blues numbers like "Private Property Blues" by Don Q. Some songs have a lot of background hiss, typical of the era, but it's worth enduring on cuts by the likes of B.B. King and Willie Dixon's Big Three Trio.
The Bullet Records Story
In retrospect Nashville's prolific Bullet Records has proclaimed itself "the first Americana label" and who can argue when a sampling of their roster serves up tunes from Wynonie Harris, Joe Williams, Smoky Hogg, Ray Price, B.B. King, Chet Atkins (represented here as Chester Atkins & His All Star Hillbillies) and Smiley Burnette to name just a few. This 3-CD set contains 60 pre-rock era songs and a booklet of liner notes from producer and reissue overseer Fred James.
Nashville Country Jamboree
This aggregation featured seven vocalists but this release of fairly obscure country songs is not notable for the singers but rather for the players; featured here are David Briggs, Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Floyd Cramer, Kenny Buttrey, Norbert Putnam, Hank Garland, Charlie McCoy, Buddy Harmon and many other notable session men.