America’s Song Butchers: the Weird World of Homer & Jethro
Razor & Tie Records

The Best of Homer & Jethro
Good Music Record Company (Not pictured)

Henry "Homer" Haynes and Kenneth "Jethro" Burns both defined and transcended the genre of country music comedy. They made their names in Nashville writing and performing clever new lyrics to popular country hits, but their tastes ran more to jazz and swing. H&J were big Duke Ellington fans, and often performed "C-Jam Blues" in their live shows. These guys were funny as hell, to be sure, but they had the musical chops to push their song parodies onto another plane altogether.

Between 1949 and 1971, "The juvenile delinquents who grew up to be dirty old men" released more than 30 LPs for RCA. America's Song Butchers concentrates on their earlier, more creative years (1949-55), and includes their first 78, an incredible cover of Frank Loesser's "Baby, It's Cold Outside," featuring a very young June Carter as H&J's romantic interest. It's a classic Homer & Jethro record — the vocal performance is so hilarious it's easy to overlook the impeccable musicianship and split-second timing. The same can be said of most of the other tunes in this compilation.

With twenty carefully chosen selections, informative liner notes, complete session details and plenty of photos; Razor & Tie has assembled a worthy introduction to the music of Homer & Jethro.

The Best of Homer & Jethro combines crappy packaging, minimal, incorrect liner notes, and seemingly random song selection. The Good Time Record Company is that outfit that advertises in the Sunday paper, making K-Tel look like the Smithsonian. The Razor & Tie disc is definitely the one to get. The Good Time compilation has only three songs in common with America's Song Butchers, and is recommended with reservations to those who simply must have more Homer & Jethro. It will have to serve as a supplement until somebody releases a complete H&J box set.

Bear Family, are you listening?