Essential Albums

  • Mountain Music

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  • Alabama

About Alabama

Distant cousins from family farms in Alabama, singer/guitarist Randy Owen and bassist Teddy Gentry were once so poor, they've claimed, that they couldn’t afford outhouses. So, as children, they escaped the drudgery of farm life by learning guitar and singing in church. By 1969, the two, already veterans of numerous ‘60s pop and bluegrass groups, banded with another cousin, multi-instrumentalist Jeff Cook, for a project called Young Country, then Wildcountry. Within eight years, they changed their name to Alabama (at the request of their label) and assembled their signature gleaming group sound. They did it with Eagles-style harmonies, lots of rock guitar, and a will to please fans based partly on never wanting to work on a family farm again. Their 1980 LP, My Home’s In Alabama, launched them, with hits “Why Lady Why” and “Tennessee River” crossing over into pop. The title song declared that whatever happened, they would always be “Southern born and Southern bred.” Those lyrics laid down their good-old-boys template. A great bar band that never got too fancy, they mixed up bluegrass and family harmonies with the occasional screaming guitar and put it all behind songs about home (1982’s “Mountain Music,” 1983’s “Dixieland Delight,” and 1985’s “Christmas in Dixie”). They hung it up in 2004, but then Brad Paisley got them together seven years later to guest on “Old Alabama,” his loving tribute to the band’s classic tunes, and the trio realized they couldn’t stop there. In 2019 they played a 50th-anniversary tour, and though Cook was fighting Parkinson’s disease and didn’t join his cousins on the road, the band have successfully maintained their familial and musical bonds.

Fort Payne, AL, United States

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