Most of the country singers hailing out of Nashville's Grand Ole Opry expect to peddle their wares to the corn belt.and let the pop world go by. Although the kind of music they sing on the granddaddy of the country radio shows has often been taken over by pop singers and made into hits (Tennessee Waltz, You Are My Sunshine), few country singers have made the pop charts on their own. But in the wake of Elvis Presley (not considered genuine country by the connoisseurs), two Nashville favorites have gone to the fore in the pop world's latest phase, "rockabilly." The successful practitioners are Ferlin Husky and Marty Robbins, both having their first bestselling pop-record hits.
Like most country singers, Husky and Robbins specialize in agonizing tales of unrequited love, told to the metronome thrub-dub of a guitar. As a concession to the pop market, both have added background support from mewing vocal ensembles. Of the two, Missouri-born Singer Husky, 31, is the better vocalist, and in his current hit, Gone (Capitol), has the more heart-rending material to work with ("Since you've gone/ The moon, the sun, the stars in the sky/ Know all the reasons why I cry").
Arizona-born Singer Robbins, also 31, and like Husky a Nashville Opry singer, has climbed the sales charts with a recording of an original composition, White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation) on Columbia, which bewails the loss of a girl for whom the rig was intended. When he is not before the radio mikes, Robbins carries this and other throat-huskers out to the country trade in an old Greyhound bus with bunks and a built-in shower. And a shower to sing in is just what his voice needs.
Other pop and jazz records: Atom Bomb Baby (The Five Stars; Dot). A rocking, slack-mouthed salute to a terrifying mid-20th-century paragon who is "a million times hotter than TNT." A candidate for success in the jukebox and leather-jacket set.
Music for Lighthousekeeping (Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars; Contemporary). Volume 8 in this West Coast series is marked by playing of piano-string tautness and vibrating energy. Bob Cooper is a glib, honey-mouthed talker on the tenor sax.
The Waltz That Broke My Heart (Gisele MacKenzie; Vik). Songstress Mac-Kenzie is sitting this one out, she tells the listener in her clear, unshaded voice, because the last time she attempted the waltz, it cost her that man. Her syrup-slow beat suggests that sheer lack of energy may have done it.
It's a Wonderful World (Barbara Carroll Trio; RCA Victor). A wide-ranging sampler of one of the most imaginative jazz pianists going, with selections ranging from the strutting, heavily accented No Moon at All to a feather-soft brush-over of Rodgers' and Hart's Spring Is Here. The whole is marked by a lively, note-clear touch and a beat that shifts and slides with the mood.
Blossom Dearie (Verve). Songstress Dearie chants the subtler changes on romance'Deed I Do, Lover Man, Everything I've Gotin a wide-eyed, cuddle-up-to-the-mike voice that suggests she did her homework in places where nice girls rarely wander. "I have got eyes for you," she warns, "to give you dirty looks."