In an effort to honor and preserve seminal classic country and bluegrass albums, CMH RECORDS (Country. Music. Heritage.) has remastered and rereleased Mac Wiseman’s Songs That Made The Juke Box Play. Now available for the first time ever on digital and streaming platforms, this expansive 22-track collection showcases the legendary “The Voice with a Heart,” supported by an expert backing band including Western swing master Johnny Gimble on the fiddle and mandolin.
Wiseman first recorded for CMH in 1976 and appeared on a number of original albums during his time with the label. This album, released in 1980 and never before available digitally until this brand-new remaster, is a unique gem in his work, featuring the bluegrass titan’s take on 22 classics of timeless Western swing. Wiseman’s voice glides over a remarkably laid-back rhythm section as he takes on both timeless numbers and deep cuts of the genre. Captured in the warm and clear hi-fi production of its time, Wiseman captures all the humor, wit and heart that characterizes Western swing at its best, with his one-of-a-kind delivery, on Songs that Made the Juke Box Play.
A bluegrass pioneer and a lover of country, Mac Wiseman devoted his life to music. Born in Crimora, Virginia in 1925, Wiseman first appeared on record in 1946 and didn’t stop until 2015 at the age of 90. As a singer, his voice was cherished throughout his life, but he was also accomplished on the guitar and upright bass. On top of being an artist, he was a determined facilitator of music as a festival promoter, label owner, A&R executive and co-founder of both the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Association. Over the course of his life, he performed regularly with bluegrass pioneers the Osborne Brothers, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and Eddie Adcock as well as recorded collaborative records with country legends Merle Haggard, John Prine and Doc Watson.
Founded in 1975 by Martin Haerle, CMH Records has released albums from artists whose monumental influence on American roots music is unparalleled. The label is responsible for essential recordings throughout the 70s and 80s by bluegrass, old time and traditional country music legends such as Merle Travis, The Osborne Brothers, Mac Wiseman, Joe Maphis, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, Grandpa Jones, Lester Flatt and Eddie Adcock. Throughout the ‘90s and into the new millennium, CMH Records continued to cut records with artists such as Wanda Jackson (aka “The Queen of Rockabilly”), Raul Malo, Larry Cordle, Pine Mountain Railroad, Jimmy Gaudreau, and many others. Producing songs rich in American heritage by artists with their own distinct style created a strong backbone and history for the label.
The label remains a proud family business, now run by Martin’s son David. Described by the Los Angeles Times as a “stubborn, curious Silver Lake music company,” the label has been a strong proponent for honest music and has found success with its classic catalog and its ongoing “Pickin’ On” series, which features bluegrass interpretations of contemporary artists, including recent hit albums dedicated to the music of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Modest Mouse. The Times piece added that CMH “meets unsung needs in the music industry” and cited its “creative diversification.”
Track List for Mac Wiseman’s Songs That Made The Juke Box Play:
Bubbles In My Beer
I Wish I Had Never Seen Sunshine
Home In San Antone
No Letter Today
Love Letters In The Sand
I Love You Because
Time Changes Everything
Drivin’ Nails In My Coffin
Waltz Across Texas
It Makes No Difference Now
Divorce Me C.O.D.
Born To Lose
I Wonder How The Old Folks Are At Home
The Wild Side Of Life
(Remember Me) I’m The One Who Loves You
Live And Let Live
One Has My Name, The Other Has My Heart