Various Artists

All Gone Fishin'

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Few things are more country than fishing, so Bandit's 2006 concept album All Gone Fishin' makes a lot of sense: gather 14 country and folk artists to sing songs about fishing, or at least tunes that use fishing as a metaphor. Sure, it sounds a little gimmicky on paper, but in practice All Gone Fishin' is an absolute blast, because everybody involved decided to bring their A-game and turn this into a very strong record. For most of the artists, this did mean having fun, but there are a few quiet, sincere moments -- including a pair involving Gary Shiebler, who duets with Patty Loveless on "Breathin' Room" and Marcia Ramirez on "As Country Could Be" -- but for the most part, this is a high-spirited, riotous good time, thanks to such old pros as Bobby Bare, George Jones, Jerry Reed, Merle Haggard, Mel Tillis, Porter Wagoner, and Little Jimmy Dickens. Each celebrates a different aspect of fishing in their songs -- Bare is "Out on the Water," George is buying "Beer, Bait and Ammo" in a hysterical number that has a rival in Jerry Reed's rollicking "Front of the Boat," Merle slows it down a bit on the sweet and sentimental "Take Him Fishing," while Dickens and Brad Paisley tell tall tales in "The Picture" -- and each of the songs work as both great songs about fishing and great country music, thanks to the old pros and the crackerjack house band supporting them. It all adds up to a real surprise: a record that is surely under the radar, but it's more unabashed fun than almost any other country album released in 2006.

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