Grand Ole Opry member Ray Pillow started
out on his music career in 1958 deputising for the lead
singer in a his uncle's band at the VFW Hall in Appomattox,
Virginia. Ray learned to play guitar and became regional
winner of the Pet Milk Talent Competition and runner-up
in the national finals on WSM radio in Nashville, 1961.
From this landed Ray a guest spot in the Grand Ole Opry,
fuelling his interest in country music.
In 1963 Ray Pillow released his first two
singles, "Take Your Hands Off My Heart" followed
up by a Top Twenty Hit "Thank You Ma'am". Capitol
his first album Presenting Ray Pillow in 1965 and by 66
he was a star and became a Grand Ole Opry member. 1966
was a good year for Ray Pillow as he was voted Most Programmed
New Artist by the national D.J. polls in addition to winning
Billboard's Most Promising New Male Artist and Cash Box's
Most Promising New Artists awards.
This current release from Pillow has
12 tracks…the majority of which have been written or co-written
by Mark Nesler, with the album being produced by Jerry
Crutchfield. The musicians backing-up Ray are all top-notch
as they are the Grand Ole Opry's own band, including Jimmy
Capps (acoustic guitar), Kerry Marx (electric guitar),
Bill Linnermann (upright bass), Tim Atwood (piano), John
Gardner & Milton Sledge (drums and percussion), Tony
White (steel guitar), Hoot Hester (fiddle and mandolin)
and Dennis McCall (background vocals). Ray enthuses "after
working with some of these guys for almost forty years
we finally got the opportunity to go into the studio together
and put down some good music." And some unbeatable
music is to be found on Country
The album kicks off with the slow "I
Do, But I Don't" (Mark Nesler/Tony Martin"
followed by the mid-paced "This
Ain't No Sad Country Song" (Mark
Nesler/Tracy Byrd) with some crying steel and fiddle inputting
an air of swing into the number. It's always good to see
an artist adding a touch of western swing and Ray picks
up the pace later with the lively "Oklahoma
Girl" Mark Nesler/Tracy Byrd/Frank Dyeus),
and then adds "You Never Know
Just How Good You've Got It" (Nesler).
A flavour of Mexico can be found with the
(Nesler/Martin), and a clutch of love songs comes in the form of
"Being In Love" (Mark
Nesler/Tony Martin), "For Me It's You"
(Nesler/Martin) and the slow "The
Part I Don't Understand" (Nesler/Martin), again with
the atmospheric crying steel aiding the sentiment.
Country Class is
the ideal title for this album since it's country class all the
way! This matchless collection finally comes to an end with a
true country tearjerker "I Wonder
Who's Missing You Now"
(Dillingham/Sherrill/Throckmorton), leaving the listener crying
Graham Lees Sept 2006