Onie's Bop

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Greg Adams
Onie Wheeler died on-stage at the Grand Ole Opry in 1984, a poetic end for a man who spent his life toiling in relative obscurity for country music. He barely even qualifies as a one-hit wonder, having charted only one minor country hit in 1973. He was, however, a unique performer and a talented songwriter whose first OKeh single, "Run 'Em Off," became a hit via Lefty Frizzell's cover version. A few years later his song "No, I Don't Guess I Will," with minor revisions to the lyric, gave Carl Smith a hit. Onie's Bop is a compilation of Wheeler's 1950s recordings for OKeh, Columbia, and Sun, including his original recording of "Run 'Em Off," a copycat follow-up titled "Tell ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Greg Adams
Onie Wheeler died on-stage at the Grand Ole Opry in 1984, a poetic end for a man who spent his life toiling in relative obscurity for country music. He barely even qualifies as a one-hit wonder, having charted only one minor country hit in 1973. He was, however, a unique performer and a talented songwriter whose first OKeh single, "Run 'Em Off," became a hit via Lefty Frizzell's cover version. A few years later his song "No, I Don't Guess I Will," with minor revisions to the lyric, gave Carl Smith a hit. Onie's Bop is a compilation of Wheeler's 1950s recordings for OKeh, Columbia, and Sun, including his original recording of "Run 'Em Off," a copycat follow-up titled "Tell 'Em Off," and 29 other cuts from the distinctive hard country of his early years to the rockabilly and hillbilly bop he later waxed at Sun. Colin Escott's liner notes correctly point out that Wheeler's idiosyncratic early recordings -- such as the oddly metered "My Home Is Not a Home at All" and his religious "mother" songs -- are the apex of his artistic achievement and tower above his rockabilly efforts, even though the latter may hold more appeal for collectors. The gospel-styled vocal trio sound Wheeler applied even to his honky tonk material is stirring, and the slow songs allow the strange flavor of his voice to seep through more than the uptempo material. It is almost always a mistake when Bear Family forgoes chronological sequencing, and the same is true of Onie's Bop; the 31 tracks are arranged mostly in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1959 and ending up in 1953, which makes no sense. Quibbles aside, some excellent music awaits those who want to dig a little deeper into country music's past.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/27/1994
  • Label: Bear Family
  • UPC: 790051155421
  • Catalog Number: 15542

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Onie Wheeler Primary Artist, Bass, Guitar, Harmonica, Leader, Vocals
Buddy Emmons Steel Guitar
Floyd Cramer Piano
Benny Martin Fiddle
Grady Martin Fiddle, Guitar
Harold Bradley Guitar
Floyd Chance Bass
Lightnin' Chance Bass
Ray Edenton Guitar
Joseph Edwards Guitar
Bob Foster Steel Guitar
Buddy Harman Drums
Roy M. "Junior" Husky Bass
Roland Janes Guitar
Stan Kesler Bass
Jerry Rivers Fiddle
J.M. Van Eaton Drums
Farris Coursey Drums
Dale Potter Fiddle
Earnest Thompson Drums
Jimmy Wilson Piano
Smokey Joe Baugh Drums
Alden J. Nelson Guitar, Tenor (Vocal)
Jimmy Smith Piano
Jimmy Wilson Drums
Doyal Nelson Rhythm Guitar, Tenor (Vocal)
Technical Credits
Onie Wheeler Composer
Bill Justis Producer
Pee Wee King Composer
Redd Stewart Composer
Jack Clement Producer
Colin Escott Liner Notes, Reissue Producer, Illustrations
Don Law Producer
Tom Lee Composer
Duncan Cowell Mastering
R.A. Andreas Illustrations
Richard Weize Reissue Producer
Charlie Terrell Illustrations
Bill Starr Composer
The Wheeler Family Illustrations
Jean Crowe Composer
A.J. Nelson Illustrations
Tony Lee Composer
Doyal Nelson Duet
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Fine, obscure 50s country and rockabilly

    This is a perfect example of the Bear Family ethos: deserved attention lavished on a commercially marginal musical figure whose artistic output grossly overshadowed his popular renown. Wheeler was one of a number of transitional figures whose career spanned the country/honky-tonk period of the early 50s and onset of rockabilly in the mid-to-late 50s. <br><br> Though probably best known by rockabilly revivalists (especially for the sides he cut at Sun), his earlier sides, with their slower tempos, gave full range to his deep voice. Wheeler¿s harmonica (a war injury to his hand curtailed his guitar playing), his distaste for steel guitar, and his original songs gave his recordings a unique sound. Early experiments with Latin rhythms, such as ''Hazel'' and ''I¿m Satisfied With My Dreams'' showed off Wheeler¿s more far-reaching ideas. <br><br> Bear Family¿s generous thirty-one track compilation covers both his earliest sides, dating back to his first session for Columbia/Okeh in 1953 (''Run ¿em Off'' and ''Mother Prays Loud in Her Sleep''), as well as his mid-period rockabillies for both Columbia and Sun. Missing are later sides referred to in the liners, including an early 60s session cut with Wheeler¿s daughter, Karen, that yielded ''Sandyland Farmer,'' and his sole chart hit, 1973¿s ''John¿s Been Shucking My Corn.'' <br><br> Wheeler¿s life story, perhaps not unlike so many other popular music figures (both major and minor), is a fascinating and complex construction of early inspiration, innumerable moves back and forth across the country, day jobs and night gigs, major label recording, failed singles, recordings held back in lieu of covers by stars (and co-writers tacked on as part of publishing deals), reunions with long-lost bandmates, work as a sideman, latter-day one-shot sessions, and eventual Opry and minor chart success. Colin Escott¿s liner notes, comprising perhaps the only detailed biography of Wheeler¿s career, capture the full flavor of Wheeler¿s professional life, and the accompanying session info is top notch. <br><br> Wheeler¿s lack of commercial success is variously attributed to his lack of aggressiveness (though the travails he endured to have a career at all certainly suggests he didn¿t take his work lightly), as well as an unwillingness to grease the wheels of radio. Timing and luck obviously played their roles, as well. As this collection shows, Wheeler certainly had the artistic goods, if the not the good fortune, to be a star. <br><br> 4-1/2 stars, if B&N allowed fractional ratings.

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