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The Best of Red Simpson: Country Western Truck Drivin' Singer by Red Simpson
 

The Best of Red Simpson: Country Western Truck Drivin' Singer by Red Simpson

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Prior to Razor & Tie's 1999 compilation The Best of Red Simpson: Country Western Truck Drivin' Singer there was no CD compilation of one of the quintessential truck driving country singers, nor had there even been a good, comprehensive vinyl collection covering Red Simpson's classic Capitol recordings of the '60s and early '70s. So, any collection of his work would have been welcome, but fortunately this 20-track disc does its job perfectly, containing six of his seven charting hits (the last, 1976's "Truck Driver's Heaven," arrived outside of the scope of this collection and isn't part of his prime), along with a generous selection of album tracks from some of the greatest Bakersfield country albums of the '60s. Some may complain that Simpson's material is a little narrow, focusing almost entirely on vehicles, the rules of the road, policemen, truck stops, highways, and other concerns of truckers, but that's like complaining that George Jones sang too much about affairs of the heart. Truck driving country was Simpson's milieu, and while he didn't start the genre or have hits as big as either Dave Dudley or Dick Curless, he produced consistently enjoyable, tremendously entertaining country. Plus, he took the genre seriously, never deviating from its subject and themes, while also having a lot of fun with it, singing good-natured, good-humored songs about the road. Then, there was the sound of the records -- filled with twangy Telecasters, propulsive skipping rhythms, echoed vocals, and tinkling pianos, this is Bakersfield country at its leanest, catchiest, and best, practically the definition of how truck driving country should sound, particularly because although it all sounds similar, it never sounds the same. There is a wealth of great songs here: The wonderful pro-police anthem "Highway Patrol," the surprisingly tender "Roll, Truck, Roll," the gleefully silly "I'm a Truck," the outlaw travelogue "Give Me Forty Acres," the menacing, minor-key "Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves," and terrific renditions of the perennials "Truck Drivin' Man" and "Six Days on the Road" are just the tip of the iceberg on this stellar compilation. It's certainly the cornerstone of any basic truck driving country collection, but it's more than that -- it's one of the best unheralded collections of '60s country on the market. And it's perfect for long trips on the open road.
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