The two albums collected on this CD were made before Jerry Reed began his run of popular novelty hits in the early '70s, but his comedy persona was already well-formed: the raunchy cover of Nat Stuckey's "Plastic Saddle" and camp reading of "Alabama Jubilee" are cases in point. The lazy funk of "Oh What a Woman!" gave Reed a minor hit, and "I'm a Happy Man" is one in a long line of originals that suggests that Reed is a genuinely contented guy. "Aunt Maudie's Fun Garden" and "The Semi-Great-Predictor" are products of their time; the latter in particular, with its sitar and vocal effects, sounds like the Monkees. Overall, Cookin' is an unusual, experimental album, while Better Things in Life, with the exception of "Johnny Wants to be a Star" (essentially another "Guitar Man") and the jaunty, tack piano number "There's Better Things in Life," leans toward ballads. Some of the most unusual items in Reed's catalog are here, but relatively few showcases for his guitar playing.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Adams