Jerry Jeff Walker

20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Jerry Jeff Walker

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Unforgivably, it does not say this anywhere on the CD packaging, but this is a compilation of material from Walker's MCA releases of the early-to-late '70s. This was one of his stronger periods as both a commercial and artistic presence, so what's the harm in putting release dates on the track listings? At any rate, it's a fair run through a dozen tracks from half a dozen albums, at a time when Walker was among the foremost singer/songwriters fusing country, rock, Americana, and a little pop. Focusing on story-songs with the somewhat humorous yet world-weary tone common to numerous Texas-based singer/songwriters of this ilk, this includes some of Walker's better works, like "Sangria Wine," "Pissin' in the Wind," and "Hairy Ass Hillbillies." Also it reflects the role he took as an interpretive artist to popularize some songs by Guy Clark ("L.A. Freeway," "Desperadoes Waiting for a Train"), Ray Wylie Hubbard ("Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother"), and Billy Joe Shaver ("Old Five and Dimers Like Me"). Note that the version of "Mr. Bojangles" here is not Walker's original recording, but a live one from the A Man Must Carry On album.

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