This is a pleasing collection of mid-tempo country music, with occasional digressions into rock & roll, built around the relatively mild-pitched persona of Dave Rich, a singer who, by his own admission, has relatively little stake in either genre. "I'm Glad" might have the feel of jaunty, honky tonk-style country, and "Ain't It Fine" has a good country-flavored rock & roll tune, but the boy's heart -- and he was only 18 when some of these sides were cut -- was directed to a higher calling, to preaching the gospel. Perhaps that's why -- when coupled with his slightly high-register country tenor (like Webb Pierce), the material here seems so unthreatening, even at its jauntiest and quickest tempo. A lot of what's here is beautiful -- "City Lights," one of the few non-originals (authored by Bill Anderson), should have been a major country hit, and seems to capture the contradictions in his heart over where he was heading with his music; at the same time, "Rosie, Let's Get Cozy" is as smooth and unthreateningly suggestive a rock & roll number as you could find, with a great beat and feel; "School Blues" is a jaunty, enjoyable, and memorable account of teen life; and "Red Sweater" and "Burn On Love" are both achingly beautiful rhythm ballads, particularly the latter -- all are originals that suggest to the listener that if he hadn't pursued recording, Rich could easily have made it as a songwriter, selling his stuff to the Everly Brothers. Even the bluesy, slightly raunchy "Chicken House" works well, and ought to have given Rich a foothold on musical immortality. Although some of the sessions are uncredited as far as who is playing, a lot of what's here features Chet Atkins, Grady Martin, Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland, and Jerry Byrd, so it's a given that the playing is impeccable and inventive throughout. The sound quality is excellent, and Colin Escott's annotation is very thorough.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder