Album Review – Whitey Morgan & The 78’s

October 11, 2010 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  43 Comments

This is an important album. It is important for the burgeoning country scene in Michigan. It’s important for Bloodshot Records. And it’s important for all REAL country fans. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but in some ways that’s what makes it so important. It is straightforward, honest to goodness, good old fashioned country music delivered with no frills, and it’s about time something like this found its way back into “New Release” listings.

For those of you that have Outlaw/classic country leanings, this album has you at “hello.” The album cranks up with the slow droning of a phased telecaster on the Johnny Cash cover of “Bad News,” then the pedal steel kicks in, and you know immediately that this music will fit nice and snug into your country music wheelhouse.

Whitey and the boys do a great job mixing country covers and Whitey originals, and then really making the covers their own. Whitey is a great singer, though you don’t think of him a some super crooner, but on Johnny Paycheck’s “Meanest Jukebox In Town,” Whitey takes his singing to another level, delivering a vocal performance full of vintage flair, and showing an unexpected range and confidence. Dale Watson’s “Where Do Ya Want It,” about an unfortunate incident between Billy Joe Shaver, a bullet, and another man’s face, captures the energy of the Whitey Morgan live performance.

Whitey’s songwriting is not spellbinding, but it is not hokey either like so much Nashville songwriting these days that focuses on turning phrases around on themselves and plots that can be pitched in one sentence to record execs. Instead Whitey focuses on honesty, and relate-able lyrics taken from real life experiences. Songs like “Turn Up The Bottle” and “Hard Scratch Pride” anchor this album in authenticity, and keeps it traditional without working in anachronistic language.

My concern about this album is that it will be too straightforward, too stuffy feeling for some. It is a quality, slick project, but except for a few instances, it traded in the energy of their live shows for the tight, professional recording. More maybe could have been done on the production side: leave the drums off on a song or two, mess with the tempos to separate the songs in mood, find ways to make the songs play to Whitey’s strengths. And though I love their take on Cash’s “Bad News,” such a recognizable cover seems a little odd for an opening track. They could have gone with “Buick City,” which is an excellent original, and the hit of this album that DOES embody their live energy.

Still, I like this album, and I think it is a quality project worthy of the REAL country fan’s music collection. Whitey Morgan and Michigan should be proud.

Two guns up.

(The release date is Oct. 12th, and this album will also be available on vinyl.)

Purchase Whitey Morgan & The 78’s

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43 Comments to “Album Review – Whitey Morgan & The 78’s”

  • Whitey and the boys and dishy fiddlin girl are one of the berst country bands out there .. gettin this one as soon as I can. Yall come back to Alabama or Mississippi Whitey … I got the place in Hattiesburg, MS

  • I love Paycheck’s “Meanest Jukebox In Town.” Looking forward to Whitey’s version

  • I knew within the first 30 seconds of Whitey Morgan & the 78s debut album, “Honky Tonkys & Cheap Motels” that I was gonna dig this band. I’ve been looking forward to this release for a while now! The live stream last week sounded great, I hope my copy gets here soon!
    I shoulda bought the damn vinyl. Great review Triggerman.

    • Honky TONKS & Cheap Motels

    • I just found out about this band a few months back after hearing them on the Dale Watson station on Pandora. I bought their first album almost immediately and it’s solidly amongst my favorites currently.

      I didn’t even know that they had a new album out until the other day when I also found out that their tour was coming nearby. I proceeded to buy the new album without hearing a single cut from it and over the weekend I caught them live as well. The new album is every bit as good as the 1st one. Even got to meet the band and we talked(and drank) with Jeremy for awhile at the show. Awesome people!

  • HELL YEAH! Just got the heads up…it shipped today. Lookin forward to it, THANKS!


    • Who is claiming he’s the next Waylon Jennings? You’re the first I’ve seen mention that.

      And straightforward maybe, but pop country? Ha! Don’t try to prove how hardcore you are by throwing out terms that don’t apply.

      No need to apologize for your opinions and if they offend someone that is their problem, but try to make arguments that actually have some substance.

      • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but Whitey Morgan & the 78s are as pop-country as Johnny Cash.

        • I also have heard the Waylon comparisons, which I get because Whitey is, obviously, trying to sound like him, but I don’t think Aaron was meaning to disparage anyone else’s opinion of the CD or the music…he was simply stating his own take on it. Personally, I like Whitey’s music, but I do find it repetitive after a few songs; basically, as we all know, he ain’t breaking any new ground and that is why some folks love him and others are lukewarm toward him. Anyway, all of this comes down to subjectivity, and I long ago gave up arguing the “good/bad” of music…you either get it or you don’t, it either speaks to you or it doesn’t.

          • Yeah, I heard the repetitiveness too, though I really think this is a production issue more than an issue with songwriting,etc. Like I said up above:

            More maybe could have been done on the production side: leave the drums off on a song or two, mess with the tempos to separate the songs in mood, find ways to make the songs play to Whitey’s strengths.

            There is a big difference between saying someone is like Waylon Jennings, and saying someone is the NEXT Waylon Jennings. To frame an argument around the assertion that “HE IS NOT THE NEXT WAYLON JENNINGS” when I don’t know anybody that has said that is completely unfair to Whitey. I’m not saying that nobody has ever said that, but I’d like to see a link, even one, to an article, a blog, a message board, a comment on a blog, anything.

            There’s also nothing pop country about Whitey’s music. An opinion is saying that you don’t like it, which I completely understand. Not all music is for everyone. Saying it is pop country is a false statement. There’s a difference.

  • I give these Yankees two thumbs up!

  • […] Country Music reviewed the new, self-titled honky tonk album from Whitey Morgan and the […]

  • I can’t wait to get this CD!! Thanks for the review Triggerman!

  • i have herd a lot of people claim he is the next Waylon the time i saw him play every one around was saying that shit…. and im not tying to be fucking hard core in any way just stating my fucking opinion…. Jesus trigger sorry i got you feathers in a ruffle because i thought your review was wrong and im not gonna sit here and kiss your ass like every one else on here… sorry i don’t think you are always right.. and honestly i probably know just as much about this music as you do… when it comes down to its a matter of opinion and i just stated mine sorry man sorry that pissed you off…

  • If you are gonna be a website host you should probley learn that not every one is gonna agree with you and talking down to some one is kinda of a dick move….

    • The fact that you think that it is unusual for someone to disagree with me or that I wouldn’t expect criticism or that you think I discourage criticism is a sign that you have not been around here much.

      I love criticism, and think it is healthy not only for me personally, but for this website, to show all sides and perspectives, and to welcome all perspectives, including yours, however misguided it might be. And I get my nuts kicked in pretty much on a regular basis here. But I’m a big boy, and I can take it, and if you’re going to throw out accusations and wild opinions, you better bring a thick skin as well.

      I simply asked, who has called him the next Waylon Jennings? I’ve seen comparisons, but this is a question, give me some hard evidence you didn’t make this up off the cuff.

      And I think your “pop country” accusation is ridiculous, and I dealt with it as it should have been.

      I think I was pretty fair with this album. I went out of my way to say I thought it sounded stuffy, and that it doesn’t represent what they do live. I gave criticism, and so did you. The difference is mine was done in a respectful manner meant to be constructive, and based on opinions I gave a thoughtful foundation to. Your criticisms, in my opinion, hold no merit. There is plenty to criticize about any artist, or this website, or anything. But if you throw things out there without foundation, you can expect me or others to swat them out to half court like Mutombo.

      You’re always welcome to comment here Aaron, just do a better job representing your case.

      • yes a lot of people do compare him to Waylon and say he was the next at the magic bag or stick whatever the name is its a venue off 9 mile in Detroit… i feel he is more to the pop country side like Shooter Jennings or Jamie Johnson or Reckless Kelly… is… i never really said anything bad about him in my view… did i say he was not talented??? no i didn’t.. did I say he sucks no i didn’t.. as far as whitey and his band goes very talented buncha guys.. but like Shooter Jennings and Jamie Johnson.. a little to far on the pop country side for me… and your right my skin should be thicker and i probably should just live by the if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say nothing at all moto…. and yes i should not have said every one is kissin your ass on here but a lot of people do and that’s more what i meant by that comment… what really set me off is how you said i was trying to be bad ass and said i didn’t know what i was talking about… and as far as me not stopping by here very often goes i usually check up weekly if not daily.. i appreciate what you do trigger Ive supported you for a long fucking time years even, and ive done my time on the road and I’m friends with a lot of the people you talk about on here..so for you to say i don’t know what im talking about piss’s me off… My skin should be thicker and will be from here on out… but you should still watch how you talk to people their is a better way to go about saying shit.. if you would have gave me a bad review i would have gave a shit less… if you would have attacked what i said i wouldn’t have been so pissed.. why i got so pissed is i felt you attacked me personally and that pissed me off… so their you have it man

  • AhhHaahahahah! sometimes I speak outta my ass too AARON!, wanna burro my avatar?

  • i think this popcountry bit has done got outta hand(ha)seriously though. these fellas not bein hank iii or hellbound glory dont make em fuckin rascal flatts neither. i think this one is better than the last one they done and i liked that one alot. they might sound a little slicker on record, more classic outlaw than underground outlaw, but they kick the fuck outta some other cocksucker named jamey johnson who is,in my opinion,musically speaking, a mainstream version of whitey. if this actually were popular country music today we’d all be a lot better off.

  • “im not gonna sit here and kiss your ass like every one else on here”

    That was an offensive, blanket statement to “everyone else” on here….i don’t kiss ass

    • That’s hilarious Wayne. Can’t wait to see ya in Nashville this winter!

  • kiss what??? us old folk don’t hear to well…

  • I have had the vinyl for a few weeks and now I have it on CD. I wanted to hear it on CD before I voiced my opinion. Sounds strange I know. ! Someone mentioned it wasn’t groundbreaking in a previous post and I have to agree. Then again I haven’t heard any music I consider to be groundbreaking in country for quite some time. The closest I’d say would be Straight To Hell and I think that was groundbreaking in its own ways. With regards to the Whitey isn’t the next Waylon comment I think Triggerman covered that pretty well but If anyone is saying that,. it is possibly fans in the audience or on a message board because I have never heard or read Whitey proclaim that. I do hear the references to Waylon and to be honest I don’t really hear Waylon as their overwhelming influence. As a matter of fact in my opionion I hear a ton of different influences in their sound some are obvious with references in their songs and some are my own personal opinions. The man doesn’t try to be anyone but himself.

    As for the album. The more I listen to it the more I like it and I liked it from the beginning. Its a great Honky Tonk album that gets me tapping my toe and I dig the mix of the songs. The sound of “Meanest Jukebox In Town” took me by surprise. I did not expect that at all. As for the overall sound of the album I am willing to bet that if you were to ask Whitey he would tell you it sounds exactly how he wanted it to sound. Knowing what I know in what they were looking for in the sound by recording at Helm’s studio I’d say its dead on. Listen to Helm’s Dirt Farmer album and tell me if theres a resemblance between the overall “sound” . Obviously Justin Guip has something to do with that but that is besides the point. What this album does for me is look forward to what are they going to do next. I am sure they took a ton away from recording this album. Is it my favorite album ever? no. But its a very respectable album and they should be proud of what they did.

  • thanks for the opinions, the attention and the fact that the time was taken of your lives to spend a bit of time listening to something we worked so hard on and means so much to us. We love doing what we do, and to pop on this site and other similar ones chatting about it, whether the thoughts are positive or not is encouraging. Like anyone who does this the way I’ve done it throughout my life, the opinions of others doesn’t matter all that much, but the fact that people have one is important…I’d hate to put something out and hear a pin drop. Thanks to sites like this and people like yourselves-that hasn’t happened. For that, i thank everyone out there listening.
    the guy on the bass

    • Cheers to that! Great album by the way Jeremy.

    • Right on Jeremy. I really liked what I heard on the live stream, and I’m just itching to get that bugger in the mail and play the hell out of it!

  • Liked the album, but liked the first better. Not that that matters, every artists albums rank different.

    It seemed though that Whitey’s voice was a bit different in this one? Anyone else catch that? I don’t know if it was more polished sound from higher end equipment??? Or laying off the whiskey for a time before cutting the songs??? I guess when I hear the first album or see clips on myspace, there is something different.

    Not that it was “bad” and certainly not “pop country” it just sounded less some thing???? I don’t know… again, anyone else hear it from the first album to this one?

  • With all the talk about their live show and energy.. Here ya go.. This is from last night’s album release show in Detroit.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOgyovNvRgI

    • Nice man, thanks for posting that! I’d love to see these guys live.
      What is it about cute fiddle players in skirts and cowboy boots? One of my favorite things in the whole world.

  • I’m always late to the game with this, but I just got my pre-order from Amazon on Friday and I spent the weekend listening to it in the car.

    The album has a fairly polished sound, but I personally prefer a polished album for this type of music. To each his own, but I think it worked well here. I get the criticism that he tries to sound like Waylon, however at points he also sounds like Merle or George Jones. I think everyone now sounds so different from that classic sound, that it is easy to under appreciate the nuance in his tone and phrasing. In general, I was impressed with the vocals on the album. It makes me want to catch them live to see if they can really do “Meanest Jukebox in Town” justice. It was superb on the album.

    I wouldn’t have put “Bad News” first, but I get that a band trying to make a name for themselves needs to announce who they are in an accessible way. A few of these songs, especially “Buick City” could have slid right into a classic Hank Jr. album. And I say that as a compliment, I am a huge Bocephus fan. What can you say about “Where Do Ya Want It?” I think we can safely declare it the best country song about a 68-year old country singer shooting a man in the face outside a bar. It should put a smile on your face, it did mine.

    The last two songs were forgettable for me. “I Ain’t Drunk” veered perilously close to cliche, but I’ll give them a mulligan on that one in light of the rest of the album. “Long Road Home” seemed a little self indulgent, and it didn’t really fit well with the rest of the album.

    I will be suggesting this one to my friends. It wasn’t a perfect album, but it was one of my favorite in recent memory. With room for improvement, it leaves me excited to see what the future holds for Whitey & Co.

    • Good thoughts Big A

    • Good thoughts.. Its funny because I thought “I Ain’t Driunk” was pretty clever and it gave me a grin.

      Also in regards to the last song not fitting. Im not disagreeing or agreeing but on their last album Sinner was a song that was very different from the rest and you could argue that it didn’t fit either. And I doubt many people have heard it but about 4 or 5 years ago they had another 6 song CD/Demo that had a cover of Canned Heat’s “On the Road Again” that was very reminiscent to the sound of “Long Road Home” and again that song had a whole different sound than the other songs. I guess what I’m saying is that he always seems to put one of those tunes in.

      • Funny, because that’s how I took the last track, as an add on song, though its pretty subtle so I could understand how some would overlook it as that.

        The best add on song this year is the Tom Waits-esque one at the end of Lucky Tubb’s new one.

        • The last track/bonus track/experimental track trend is always a hit or miss proposition.

          I forgot to mention it, but there were some great guitar sounds on this album, too.

        • “Long Road Home” might be my least favorite track as well, but it’s still pretty good. And “Sinner” kicks ass, even if it doesn’t quite fit with the last album! I’ve been listening to this all weekend as well, and I think it’s a great album. At this point, I still prefer “Honky Tonks & Cheap Motels”, but I have a feeling this one will end up in my top 5 this year.

    • I think “Hard Scratch Pride” would have also been a great opener.

  • I think the idea “they sound like Waylon” or “the next Waylon” is trying to put it in a context.

    Example, if I am describing Whitey to friends who generally listen to mainstream radio (or stopped listening to country due to radio), the only reference point I have is to say “he doesn’t sound like that pop country stuff.” (To which they may think I mean Rascal Flatts, and expect him to sound like say… Alan Jackson, who they may not like) so I say “he sounds like Waylon.”

    Nearly everyone underground or above ground knows Waylon’s sound. I love that Whitey has that sound. Are they trying to “copy” Waylon and ride that… no, that is just what they like to hear and play. (If I had a band I would sound like that too) Not everyone can break new ground and some ground doesn’t need to be broken again.

    So I don’t think saying they sound like Waylon is a compliment or shot at them, I think it is more trying to put them in a context for people.

  • […] Morgan & The 78′s -Whitey Morgan & The 78′s – (review) – Solid album, just lacked a grand vision in my opinion. Still essential though, and you […]

  • I love me some Whitey Morgan! The quote said it best, “He’s not re-inventing the wheel, he’s just making it roll again.” This man knows how honkytonk, not “cuntry”, music should sound. I wasn’t in awe, but I will be godamned if I wasn’t impressed. The sound, the riffs, and the lyrics are all outlaw all day. No cliche, keyword, tough guy bullshit. Just good ol’ country music. Thanks trigger, I may have never heard of these boys if not for you. A future you can believe in. He is the Jamey Johnson, great white hope, for real outlaw fans. Love the site hoss!

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