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Take a spin with Golden Graham's choice album reviews


 Ray Pillow Ray Pillow

Country Class

Super Flash Records


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 a younger Ray Pilliow backstage at the Grand Ol Opreyreleased 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 Class!!!

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" CD cover(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 heartbreaker "Angelina" (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 for more!!!

Graham Lees Sept 2006