The first time I ever heard of Dallas Frazier was when I somehow found out he wrote “Elvira.” That was a big hit for the Oak Ridge Boys back in 1980. I hadn’t heard a song like that in a long time. I was no fan (and never have been) of the overly commercialized Oak Ridge Boys, but “Elvira” was a damn interesting song, and fun to sing (I’ve been to enough karaoke bars to know how popular it is among that crowd).
What I didn’t know is that Frazier also wrote one of my childhood favorites — “Ally Op.” If you know both songs, you will immediately recognize the similarities.
Over the years, I’d seen Frazier’s name pop up here and there because he’s written a long string of hit songs.
What I didn’t know until I moved to Bakersfield was that he grew up in my current home town. If you listen to enough of his music, you can catch some Bakersfield sound influences — driving beats, guitar heavy licks, in particular.
The other day I was downtown on 19th Street with a little time to kill waiting for a friend, so I popped into a used record store. There I found a Dallas Frazier record — Tell It Like It Is (interestingly, the title song is listed as a Frazier composition on the LP cover, but AllMusic.com says it’s by George Davis and Lee Diamond), and the BMI database agrees, and credits Frazier with 481 songs). The Frazier record was priced $1.99 and the shopkeep offered it to me for a buck.
That was one well-spent dollar.
Frazier’s songs on this record are more blusy than country, and right in line with the style of Elvira, maybe not quite as silly, and the performances certainly are not as polished as the Oak Ridge Boys (thank god). There is much here that reminds me of Sean Costello. There’s plenty of material here for performers looking for songs to cover, including “Don’t Come Knocking On My Door,” “My Woman Up and Gone” (the song most suitable for Costello), “Ain’t Nothin’ Shakin’ But the Leaves.”