The White Mansions Stage Show
Jimmy Lee & Lee's Company
A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
Frank Gutch Jr.
Lee's Company may just do what Waylon and Company failed to do back in 1978 when the original White Mansions hit the street in a hail of hype: break out. The 1978 package, put together by A&M, was one hell of a package, full sized pamphlet packed with everything you needed to know about the story and recording, but for one reason or another, sales fell short of expectations. That does not mean that it did not sell, rather that it did not evidently sell well enough because shortly after the pre-release and month of release blitz, it fell off of the label's radar and, outside of a small but loyal following, off the map altogether. Maybe the world was just not ready for a concept album, at least not one of the country-ish variety, or maybe the world was not ready to embrace the Confederacy in all its glory. Whatever the reason, the album was never given its proper due, in my estimation, so it is good to see Lee's Company take up the standard.
And, no, this is no tribute album. Read Jimmy Lee's full bio and you'll see that at the time of the A&M release or thereabouts, he was touring and playing everything White Mansions and might have had a great run if an unethical manager had not absconded with all proceeds lining his pockets. Played Nashville, in fact, and did quite well, actually, and when you hear this recording, you will know why.
Blessed with voice somewhere between Gary Cooper and Waylon Jennings, Lee was born to this music like moth to flame, as they say. Unlike the staged 1978 concept, Lee sings all leads (except for the officer on "Bring Up the 12-Pounders") and one might think it would not work, but it does. Lee sings with a kind of disaffected conviction which bleeds into each song—you soon forget which part he sings because it really doesn't matter, it's the story that counts. And it doesn't hurt at all that the band nails not only the songs but the sound. It is an amazingly full sound this small ensemble creates, from bass to acoustic and electric g