Friday 19 April 2024

In Praise of Older Women

Todd Andrews is one of my absolute favourite song-poem stylists: his thin, warbly voice is at odds with the country-western songs he regularly performed for Nashville outfit Nu-Sound Records and, as a bonus, his performances invariably include a spoken word section. For me, he is a purveyor of song-poem gold.


Although I have tried, I have really struggled to find out much about Todd Andrews. For a time I laboured under the misapprehension that he and writer-producer Alex Zanetis (of song-poem outfit Royal Master) were the same person, but that seems not to be the case. Zanetis had a deeper, more sonorous (and much more accomplished) voice than Andrews, and my assumption that the two men were one and the same was came from the fact that Andrews recorded for Royal Master under the name Allen Scott, and having heard Zanetis’s solo recording Are You Ready For the Lord, where he sounds similar to Andrews/Scott. However, I’m now convinced that Zanetis and Andrews/Scott are most certainly two different people.


A division of Nashville Music Productions, Nu-Sound was primarily a song-poem company, but like several others it occasionally dabbled in more mainstream releases. The company actually enjoyed a couple of US chart hits with Keith Bradford, another of Nu-Sound’s stable of singers (who scored a number 89 hit on the Billboard Country chart in 1978) and veteran country singer Rusty Draper, whose Harbor Lights was a minor hit (number 87, to be precise) on the same chart in 1980. 

Nashville Music Productions were operational from at least 1968 though to 1986, although associated labels seem to have been operating into the early 2000s. Their usual schtick was to charge people $45 for a lead sheet – a simple, handwritten piece of sheet music, one copy only – and follow that up with an offer to have the song professionally recorded for a further $110. Each letter would be accompanied by an official looking contract, and each contract would be accompanied by a further request for money: the $110 had brought the songwriter a cassette, but for a further $350 he/she/they could have 50 copies of the song on 7” single. The offers would continue, with extra fees for rhyming dictionaries, biographies, lists of companies to mail the record to and so on. Writer, DJ and singer Shad O’Shea writes about his own experiences with the company in his 1986 book, Just For the Record.

One of the nascent songwriters happy to pay a minimum of £495 to have their words etched into vinyl was J. Lambert, the author of the 1979 release My Baby’s in Texas and its wonderful flip side, Older Women. A J. Lambert wrote a better-known song, Lester’s Gone, in tribute to Lester Flatt the same year, but there’s little doubt in my mind that would have been Jake Lambert, who wrote for Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in the 1960s: our ‘J. Lambert’ is/was nothing like as accomplished.


We may never know what became of our J. Lambert (nor of Todd Andrews/Allen Scott for that matter), but their words are still here for you all to enjoy.


Download Texas HERE


Download Women HERE

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