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The Best of Mel Tillis

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Album Review

Fine '60s hard-country singer/songwriter with Ray Price shuffles, etc. ~ Mark A. Humphrey, Rovi

Customer Reviews

The missing chapter of Mel Tillis’ singing career

A decade before Mel Tillis found 1970s fame as a singer on Kapp and MGM, he recorded a number of terrific, often adventurous sides for Columbia. Tillis had been writing hits for years charting sides with Webb Pierce, Bobby Bare, Stonewall Jackson and others, but his own singles, including “The Violet and a Rose” and “Sawmill,” found only limited success. Legacy’s 24-track collection, a digital download reissue of Collectors’ Choice’s out-of-print CD, is a treasure-trove of Tillis originals, many co-written with Wayne Walker. Many of these titles were hits for other singers, including eight for Pierce, and while it’s a treat to find Tillis’ original versions of “Honky Tonk Song,” “Holiday for Love” and “A Thousand Miles Ago,” it’s even more interesting to hear the range of styles he tried out. There are Louvin-inspired harmonies inn “Georgia Town Blues,” a twangy proto-rock guitar in the tall tale “Loco Weed,” a calypso beat for “Party Girl,” and a cover of “Hearts of Stone” (which was also recorded by Elvis Presley, Connie Francis and Red Foley) that has wailing sax and Cameo-Parkway styled backing vocals. Tillis’ lack of hits at Columbia no doubt contributed to his stylistic flexibility, and though he sounds most deeply at home on honky-tonk sides “Heart Over Mind” (a hit for Ray Price) and “Tupelo County Jail,” he remained engaged and enthusiastic when singing the Johnny Horton styled historical tale “Ten Thousand Drums” and teen tunes like “It’s So Easy.” Tillis would found tremendous fame as a singer and personality in the 1970s, but these earlier sides for Columbia show convincingly that his success in the spotlight should have come much sooner. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Good, but...

We're not quite there. There are CD's out which contain the bulk of his recorded output for not just Kapp, but MGM, MCA, Elektra and Sony. They've not found their way into the store yet, which means about 2/3's of all his hits are still missing from iTunes. It's a shame, because he was a Top 10 draw in country in the 1970s, and it'd be nice to have as much of his library as possible around for fans of country music. Maybe any event, this is a fair start, but by no means a complete one.

No Coca-Cola Cowboy??

How can you have a greatest hits, without the original recording of Coca-Cola Cowboy? There are currently no "original" recordings of this song on iTunes. Sad...


Born: August 8, 1932 in Tampa, FL

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In light of all the attention given Mel Tillis' infamous speech impediment -- he even named his autobiography Stutterin' Boy -- the polished, sincere vocal delivery and songwriting skills that first earned him fame were often lost in the shuffle; nonetheless, throughout the course of his many decades in country music, Tillis remained one of Nashville's most enduring personalities. Born Lonnie Melvin Tillis in Tampa, FL, on August 8, 1932, it is believed that his stuttering was the result of a bout...
Full Bio

Top Albums and Songs by Mel Tillis

The Best of Mel Tillis, Mel Tillis
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