At a time when his contemporaries were busy reinventing themselves as rockabillies, Ray Price took a stand with his first glorious beer joint shuffle, and it knocked Blue Suede Shoes from the top of the US country charts. A record that reeked of stale cigarettes and beer puke, it almost poured its own drink. Price's booming tenor could slice through the noisiest bar room, and as of the fiddle/ steel guitar backing wasn't hard-bit-ten enough, it's under pinned by a fabulous 4/4 bass. The flip, You Done Me Wrong, is a fine faux-Cajun two-step.
Availability: The Essential Ray Price Columbia CD
69. "TENNESSE" ERNIE FORD: Sixteen Tons/You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry (1956)
Country legend Merle Travis wrote Sixteen Tons as a commission from Capitol Records who wanted an album of contemporary folk tunes. Travis soon found himself in deep trouble with the prevalling anti-communist hierarchy in the US who regarded songs about workers' right as subversive. When the massively popular Ernie Ford featured it in 1955 on his TV show, which became the faster seller in Capitol's history. It's simple, memorable and as powerfull as anything by Springsteen.
Availability: The Ultimate Collection 1949-1965 Capitol CD