Lee Hazlewood Trouble Is a Lonesome Town (Smells Like Records) / Lee Hazlewood Requiem for an Almost Lady (Smells Like Records) / Lee Hazlewood Cowboy in Sweden (Smells Like Records)
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Dec. 10, 1999
Trouble Is a Lonesome Town (Smells Like Records)
Requiem for an Almost Lady (Smells Like Records)
Cowboy in Sweden (Smells Like Records)Just because these three titles by Lee Hazlewood are unremarkable overall doesn't mean that the future ones won't be worthy of note. At 69, Hazlewood comes from the earliest rank of singer-songwriters to break through in the Sixties with equal success singing as songwriting. In a genre that went from Bob Dylan to Carole King, Hazlewood stepped solidly into that niche many writers crave but won't admit to: the One-Hit Wonder. "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'" was his claim to radio fame in 1966, and Nancy Sinatra was the voice. Later, the two would team up for modest success with "Summer Wine" and "Some Velvet Morning," but amicably went their separate ways as he pursued his performing career. The problem with these, the first in a series of Smells Like Records' reissues of Hazlewood's work, is that the songs aren't as strong as those in the pop years. Trouble Is a Lonesome Town, Requiem for an Almost Lady, and Cowboy in Sweden bookend the Top 40 hits era, the latter two being previously available only in Europe and as post-"Boots" LPs, are not particularly good. Requiem suffers from maudlin sentiment, a sometimes bitter and always melancholy toast to the women who have broken Hazlewood's heart, while Cowboy was country music for, well -- Swedes. Some of it is downright embarrassing, such as his voice-overs translating the earnest lyrics on "Vem Kan Segla." The pre-"Boots" Trouble, however, is more of a milestone for Hazlewood. He had split from partner Duane "Rebel Rouser" Eddy, and in 1963, recorded this 10-song album that tracks the characters of the town of Trouble via spoken intros and song sketches. By turns moody and humorous, it's also contrived in retrospect, and you kinda start wishing he'd either break into Jeff Foxworthy or Ray Stevens and get it over with. Wait for the releases with his hits on it; Lee Hazlewood wrote some decent music, you just won't find much of it here.