Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Three albums are presented in this post by Odell McLeod (1916-2003) who was known on radio and records as Mac Odell, The Old Country Boy.
Odell, who sang, wrote songs and played harmonica, guitar and mandolin equally well, was a popular radio entertainer. He grew up listening to early country stars such as Jimmie Rodgers, the Skillet Lickers and especially the harmonica wizard Deford Bailey. He first worked with Slim Bassett and hoboed for a time around several states before they gained a regular show, as Mac And Slim in New Orleans, in 1935. After he married, he worked with his wife as Mac And Little Addie. They played WJJD Chicago's Supper Time Frolics for some time but their career was interrupted by World War II. Odell worked in a Michigan factory but continued to write songs as a staff writer for Roy Acuff (he wrote Acuff’s popular ‘Radio Station SAVED’ and ‘That Glory Bound Train’). After the war, he and his wife resumed their career on WLAC Nashville, remaining there until 1957. During this time he did daily shows with Addie and also appeared solo. He recorded for Mercury Records in 1949 but in 1952, he joined King Records. Many of his recordings were self-penned numbers, with the vast majority being of a gospel nature. These included ‘Thirty Pieces Of Silver’ (popularized by Wilma Lee Cooper) and ‘From The Manger To The Cross’, both of which have become much-recorded country standards. In 1957, he relocated to Benton Harbor, Michigan, where for some years, he neglected music to run Odell’s Signs, until a 1974 heart attack forced him to give up sign writing. In the late 70s, he was persuaded to make further recordings for Folk Variety of Germany, who also released some of his earlier material. In 1985, he and Addie made a tour of the Netherlands with the popular gospel singing Dutch duo, A.G. And Kate. In the late 80s, he was entertaining locally with three old friends as the Silver Threads. Odell also wrote ‘Purple Robe’, ‘The Stone Was Rolled Away’ and the Flatt And Scruggs hit ‘Cora Is Gone’.
The "Be On Time" and "Wild Rose Of The Mountains" LPs were released on the German Folk Variety label in 1977 and 1978, respectively, and contain nearly all of the sides he cut for Mercury and King in the late forties and early fifties. "Early Radio" was released on Old Homestead in 1980 and features 1955 performances, complete with studio banter, from his daily radio show over WLAC in Nashville. Fortunately, the sound quality on all three LPs is excellent.
Mac has always been a personal favourite of mine having grown up with a much treasured and played 78 copy of "Penicillin" and "Wildwood Flower" on the Quality/King label. Enjoy!
"Be On Time"
1. The Kiss Of Betrayal
2. Let's Pray
3. Set Your Dial On Heaven
4. Heaven Bound Gospel Train
5. The Stone Was Rolled Away
6. One Day Religion
7. Wildwood Flower
8. Be On Time
9. What Then
10. That Final Day
11. Red Ball Rocket Train
12. When The Hand Of God Comes Down
"Wild Rose Of The Mountains"
1. Thirty Pieces Of Silver
2. Wild Rose Of The Mountains
3. A Prayer For Freedom
4. The Master's Train
5. The Sign On The Highway
6. From The Manger To The Cross
8. Are You Practicing His Love
9. I'd Rather Have God
10. Life's Elevator
11. Wolves In Sheep's Clothing
12. A Crown He Wore
1. Sunnyside (Theme), Be On Time
2. Sales Pitch (Advertisement), If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again
3. I'd Rather Be On The Inside Looking Out
4. Once I Had A Precious Mother
5. I Found It In Mothers Bible
6. One Day Religion
7. Insured Beyond The Grave
8. Meet Me Jesus
9. Just Over The Stars, Sunnyside (Theme)
10. Sunnyside (Theme), Just Like Me
11. Jesus Hold My Hand, Sales Pitch (Song Book)
12. When I Lay My Burdens Down
13. I Saw Mom With God Last Night
14. When He Reached Down His Hand
15. Lifes Railway
16. What Would You Give In Exchange
17. Mansion Over The Hilltop
18. My Blessed Lord, Sunnyside (Theme)