Nolan's 1960s vinyl LPs Re-released
Newfoundland Songbook, Volumes 1-6
Unidisc Music Inc. of Pointe-Claire, Quebec has re-released twelve of Dick Nolan's vinyl long playing records on six compact discs. The albums were originally released by Arc Sound Ltd. throughout the 1960s and this is the first time any of these buried treasures have been available on CD. Each of the six volumes in the attractively packaged Newfoundland Songbook contains two vinyl LPs for the price of one... great value. The sound quality has been significantly improved which is particularly evident on the album Atlantic Lullaby. That album which was released in the early ‘60s was previously available only in mono but the stereo re-issue makes for a fresh listening experience. The sound quality of the other albums is likewise improved. The original ARC recordings were produced by Ben Weatherby who also plays guitar on some of the albums. Weatherby and Nolan went on to perform together in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
Volume 1 includes Dick's first album, I Walk the Line. Recorded in 1961 in a garage in Toronto, this album of Johnny Cash covers was the first country album by a solo recording artist from Newfoundland. Nolan identified with Cash’s lonesome pain and his haunting vocals are remarkably similar to the Man in Black. Volume 1 also includes the album Truck Driving Man, a fine collection of workingman songs including Golden Rocket which peaked at #2 on the national RPM charts in 1965. This album features fellow Corner Brook native and lifelong pal Roy Penney on ‘shotgun’ guitar. Penney was voted best guitarist in Canada by readers of RPM Magazine for three years in a row in the late ‘60s. (songs)
A highlight of Volume 2 is the song Come Where We're At from the album I’se the B’y What Catches Da Fish. This delightful ditty became an anthem for the Newfoundland government’s Come Home Year celebration in 1966. Come Where We're At was the first singer/songwriter effort by a Newfoundlander to receive extensive local radio play and its popularity made Dick Nolan a household name throughout the province. Volume 2 of Newfoundland Songbook also includes the album Atlantic Lullaby which is one of the earliest recordings to present Newfoundland and maritime folk standards in a country style. The steel guitar, drums, nifty guitar licks and Nolan’s resonant baritone come to life in the stereo re-release. (songs)
Volume 3 of Newfoundland Songbook is my personal favourite. It includes the album Movin' Out which is one of the finest country albums recorded by a Newfoundlander. Dick is accompanied by superb musicians including Buddy Cage and Dave Dudley. Cage later backed such luminaries as Anne Murray, Ian & Sylvia and Bob Dylan and replaced Jerry Garcia as steel guitarist for New Riders of the Purple Sage. Dick’s buddy Dave Dudley who popularized truck driving songs in the mid ‘60s plays on The Fool which peaked at # 5 on the National RPM charts in 1967. Dick coauthored a couple of tunes on Movin’ Out and the album showcases ‘the Corner Brook Kid’ in high gear. To quote the original liner notes, "He performs songs of the travellin’ man, the drifter, the misfit, the loner, with gut-deep, driving sincerity."
The second album on Volume 3 is the folk/pop/country
collection I Want To Live. The late ‘60s were an era
when popular music developed a social conscience and songs like
Skip a Rope and
I Want To Live
reflect those tumultuous times. The original cover artwork of both
albums on Volume 3 featured a sultry yet cool and sexy
eye-patched Nolan surrounded by a bevy of swooning beauties also
sporting eye-patches... surely the coolest album artwork of the
Volume 4 includes another album of Cash tunes, Folsom Prison. This album has always been a personal favourite and it introduced Marlene Beaudry who, although her name does not appear on the credits, joins Dick for a dandy version of Jackson. Beaudry went on to record two more albums with Dick and was part of his live show in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The Lukey's Boat album is a solid mix of Newfoundland, country and Irish songs. Nolan's deep baritone is in fine form on selections like The Stone Outside Dan Murphy's Door, Forty Shades of Green and I'm Not the Boy I Used to Be. (songs)
iis pure country. Dick harmonizes with Marlene
Beaudry on the album Duet, a
collection of country classics. This is the only album of duets
which Dick recorded. What a pity as it is simply great country
music including standards like Burning Bridges,
We Could, and We Must Have Been
Out of Our Minds. Volume 5 also includes five
tracks by Dick from the album Country.
The original vinyl album also had five solos by Beaudry. My
favourite from this collection is Six White
Horses which laments the assassinations of John Kennedy,
Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy..
An Outstanding Set
Dick Nolan was a pioneer of the Newfoundland and Labrador music industry. His career spanned 50 years and this comprehensive collection of 128 tracks documents his decade with Arc Sound. These gems were buried deep in the vinyl vaults for decades and Unidisc has done a fine job of digging them up and polishing them until they sparkle, outshining the originals. Those interested in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador recordings, and fans of Dick Nolan and Newfoundland, country, and folk music in general will want all six volumes of this outstanding piece of music history. Check your local music store and online retailers for availability or download from iTunes.
Wayne Tucker, January 2009