Various Artists

Hard to Find 45's on CD: Pop & Country Classics

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The Hard to Find 45s on CD series is a very subjective -- and some would say guaranteed to start an argument or fight at your next party with loudmouth music freaks -- batch of compilation recordings that focuses on various aspects of genre-specific music and time periods. This set centers itself on country tunes that became crossover successes from the 1950s through the urban(e) cowboy era in 1982 and pop music that charted by country artists. Some tracks would have been impossible to exclude, such as Lefty Frizzell's number one country chart smash "Saginaw, Michigan," even if it scored a lowly number 85 on the pop chart. Same goes for Leroy Van Dyke's reading of Isaac Hayes' "Walk on By," which scored a number five in pop and didn't chart in the country Top 40, and Ferlin Husky's "Gone," which went to the top of the country list and scored a number four in pop. They are included as evidence of "marginal" crossovers and provided the template by which other recordings would be measured, recorded, and released -- at least in the singles and jukebox markets. But there are some forgotten gems here as well, including the Marvin Rainwater nugget "Gonna Find Me a Bluebird," Ned Miller's awesome floor-burner "From a Jack to a King," and the Bellamy Brothers' deeply philosophical and sensitive ballad "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me?" Some of the choices here are pure pop schmaltz done by supposedly genre-specific artists, such as Sylvia's schlocky piece of radio trash "Nobody" and Tom Jones trying to cash in on the cowboy mug-shot parade (so did Engelbert Humperdinck but he didn't chart) with his read of Greenaway and Mason's "Say You'll Stay Until Tomorrow." Ultimately, it is in two unlikely candidates that the zenith of this pop culture truth is realized: B.J. Thomas' "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" and Roy Clark's magnificent and tender "Yesterday When I Was Young." The Thomas track topped both charts. There must be some other kind of logic at work here given the inclusion of Lefty's brother David's 1982 country hit "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home," which topped the country chart and didn't place in pop. There are plenty of those. Plenty! Why is this one here? Perhaps it's the compiler's perverse sense of humor -- or that he just liked the song a hell of a lot and felt it should have been a chartbuster on both lists. Ah, the beauty of independent labels.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:24
2 2:42
3 2:33
4 2:32
5 2:22
6 2:11
7 2:33
8 2:03
9 3:04
10 2:37
11 2:53
12 2:28
13 3:24
14
3:13
15 3:36
16 3:19
17 4:06
18 3:20
19 3:36
20 3:55
21 3:23
blue highlight denotes track pick