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Episode 95 : Tony Russell on Old-Time country music + Phil Everly audio + Bunny Wailer R.I.P.

8 March 2021

In this episode we welcome the great blues & country writer Tony Russell, who talks about his new Rural Rhythm: The Story of Old-Time Country Music in 78 Records — and the joys of the original Americana sound from the '20s to the '40s. Tony also talks us through his writing career from the late '60s to the present, with a particular nod to a 1972 Cream piece about B.B. King.

The focus on the "Old-Time" country of Fiddlin' John Carson & Uncle Dave Macon carries through to discussion of those compelling revivalists Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, big faves of the RBP crew — and then to clips we hear from a 1983 audio interview with Phil Everly of peerless country-pop harmonists the Everly Brothers. Phil talks about the strained relationship with brother Don and the prospect of the Everlys reunion that happened in the fall of that year.

For those less smitten by Appalachia and "high lonesome" close-harmony singing, there are heartfelt farewells to roots reggae icon Bunny Wailer & trad-jazzer turned "Father of British R&B" Chris Barber, both of whom were lost to the music world last week. There's effusive appreciation of the Wailers co-founder's classic 1976 solo debut Blackheart Man, while RBP's co-founder Martin Colyer pitches in with reminiscences of his uncle Ken's bandmate Barber.

Mark talks us through his highlights from recent additions to the RBP Library, including the great Derek Taylor holding forth on the Stones' drug bust in 1967 and the recently-departed Chick Corea discussing his Return To Forever group with Zoo World's John Swenson in 1974. Barney namechecks a Kandia Crazy Horse hymn to the L.A. Canyons from 2009 and Jasper rounds things off with remarks on Danger Mouse's Rome project, from 2011, and London MC Sway's 2006 album This is My Demo.

Watch a video clip from this recording.

Many thanks to special guest Tony Russell, whose new book Rural Rhythm is published by OUP and available now.