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ROBERT EARL REED Singing These Old Prison Songs

ROBERT EARL REED
Singing These Old Prison Songs
Leavenworth Prison – Keep On Lovin’ Me – I’m Locked Away – I Was In Prison When My Mama Died – The Warden Lied – Scum Suckin’ Lawyers – Prison Boogie – Singing These Old Prison Songs – Where Did America Go – Stuck In Prison – Diesel Therapy – I’m In Prison Blues – Little Frank & The Snitch – The Judge’s Daughter – Epilogue: You Gotta’ Hear This
 
This is a pretty amazing CD.  I’ve never experienced this ‘kind’ of testimony before.  And believe me, this is testimony.  All of the songs on this CD were written by the recording artist Robert Earl Reed.  It’s a complete story of injustice and the incredibly long time it took to become justice.  According to Reed, “Putting a songwriter in prison is like turning a hungry dog loose in a butcher shop.”  Reed has a musical history that goes all the way back into the hills and mountains of Arkansas and the Ozarks.  He comes from a large musical family.  A successful showman, promoter, entertainer and songwriter, he did indeed experience just about everything he writes in these prison songs.  Here’s the truth, and he’s sticking to it…”Robert Earl Reed was indicted on 27-felony counts of wire fraud.  On the night before trial was to begin the prosecutor offered Reed a deal: plead guilty to one misdemeanor and the prosecutor would drop the 27-felony charges.  Another man, using the alias of “Robert Reed” (who Robert Earl Reed has never met) pled guilty to a felony in 1980 in Washington County, Arkansas.  That information was put in Robert Earl Reed’s file by unscrupulous federal employees.  Reed’s attorney had assured Reed before the plea that there would be no time and no fine (Reed secretly taped his attorney’s assurance).  Reluctantly, Reed, who maintained his innocence, accepted that plea.  Then Reed went to Leavenworth for a ‘misdemeanor with a felony prior’ as he was told by a prison official.  Reed does not have a felony.  In Leavenworth, Reed, who has written over 800 songs, wrote several prison songs.  According to Reed, “There are more sad tales in prison than I thought there were.  The many tales of the guilty and then the tales of crooked cops, attorneys and prosecutors, families broken plus abuse in prison, bad attitudes of many guards, rotten food, denying inmates medicine, inmates dying for no reason, etc.  I do admire honest and qualified cops, investigators, prosecutors and prison employees.”  The final line is an appeal to better the system, but the songs Reed has written for this project has some incredible poignant memories, not only for Reed, but for the inmates that told him their stories.  Reed must have a trunk full of hardship stories to last a lifetime, so I suspect he will spend ‘life’ trying to better a system that was so unjust to him.  In the final mix I would have had Reed’s voice a little higher so every word could be understood and thought about.  Reed cut this interesting album in Omaha, Arkansas, home of Jeannie Kendall of the famous Kendalls. The American News-Journal said…”The best album of prison songs….ever.”  I’d have to agree.  The time he spent in prison certainly hasn’t slowed down his efforts at keeping old time country music and humor alive.  He formed a cast of performers which he calls the “Chicken House Opry,” and has managed to take it to the most prolific entertainment spots in America, Mountain View, Arkansas, Mission, Texas, and Branson, Missouri.
ViStar Records, P O Box 376, Mountain View, AR 72560
 
Bob Everhart

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