Countrified hope for the soundtrack genre

The Beverly Hillbillies — Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Fox/RCA)
Various Artists
The Thing Called Love — Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Giant/Warner Bros.)

Various Artists

By Allen Howie

The latest sign of country music's surging popularity is this pair of film soundtracks bursting with country artists.

The Beverly Hillbillies features a dozen country numbers, mostly classics written by the likes of Hanks William and Snow, Buck Owens, Mel Tillis, Webb Pierce and more. The result is a collection that's uniformly entertaining, sprinkled with a few standout performances.

Joe Diffie's "White Lightnin"' is frisky fun, followed by the Oak Ridge Boys' cheery rendition of "I Ain't Never." Lorrie Morgan makes her mark with a reverent reading of Owens' "Cryin' Time," while Sammy Kershaw rolls through "I'm Movin' On."

Aaron Tippin bravely tackles Hank's "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and his nasal tenor comes close to duplicating Williams' own naked vocal. Actor Jim Varney, with an assist from Ricky Skaggs, straps into "Hot Rod Lincoln," a delightful surprise.

Things get wild as Joe Walsh and Steve Earle dive headlong into a wooly version of Carl Perkins' "Honey Don't." Doug Supernaw slows things down with a stately take on Owens' "Together Again," and Ricky Van Shelton covers Lefty Frizzell's bouncy "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time" with the same enthusiasm he displayed on Elvis' "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck" last year.

A couple of artists handle their own songs. Freddy Fender joins the Texas Tornadoes on "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," in an arrangement that sounds so much like a Chipmunks song, you'll find yourself waiting for Alvin to chime in. Dolly Parton does better by her own "If You Ain't Got Love," and Jerry Scroggins closes the set with "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," with Bela Fleck's banjo setting the pace.

The soundtrack to "The Thing Called Love" also boasts a dozen songs, but written and performed by the new generation of country artists. Clay Walker starts things off with a chugging "Dreaming with My Eyes Open," followed by Daron Norwood on Don Henry's wistful "You'd Be Home Now." Trisha Yearwood turns in a typically sterling performance on Hank DeVito's weeper, "I Can't Understand," while K.T. Oslin spins one of her own wry, slice-of-life tales in "I Don't Remember Your Name (But I Remember You)."

Matraca Berg offers a faceless "Diamonds and Tears," and Deborah Allen fares only a little better on "Ready and Waiting." Rodney Crowell picks up the pace again with the first of two numbers he performs, the subdued "Until Now," and Dennis Robbins keeps the ball rolling with a sprightly "Looking for a Thing Called Love."

Kevin Welch shines on his own spare "Streets of Love," and Randy Travis redeems the trite "Partners in Wine" with a touching performance. Deborah Allen takes advantage of a second chance and sails nimbly through the "Blame It On Your Heart," leaving Crowell to close out the record with his own Southern gospel-flavored "Standing on a Rock."

If these two albums are any indication, the future for soundtracks is looking a little brighter.