This 27-cut selection, compiled from Bear Family's prestigious vaults and licensing abilities, is the third part of the Bear Family Jimmie Rodgers project. The first was a huge box set of all of Rodgers' known recordings. The second was a collection of Rodgers songs by his peers and from a memorial concert held in 1957. This installment is an odd one. It features more songs from Rodgers' contemporaries, songs Rodgers himself covered, and songs about Rodgers. There is another twist given the title, and that is that these are, by and large, the down-in-the-mouth sad songs by Rodgers, or tales of tragedies that affected him enough to want to record songs about them. Some of the tracks are from the ages, such as Ernest Tubb's 1945 virtually note-for-note remake of "Frankie and Johnny" (which Rodgers remade almost note for note from Frank Crumit's version). But there is also Jimmie Skinner's "Jimmie Yodel Blues" from 1950, Molly O'Day's "(Fifteen) Years Ago" from 1949, and Bill Monroe's 1989 cover of "My Carolina Sunshine Girl." And many more. Some of the other standouts include Merle Haggard's "Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia," Dolly Parton's "Muleskinner Blues," Jerry Lee Lewis' "Mother, the Queen of My Heart," Bob Wills' "Mississippi River Blues," Tompall Glaser's "My Mother Was a Lady" (1977), Jim Reeves' "Waitin' for a Train" (1957), Webb Pierce's now standard "In the Jailhouse Now" (1955), Lefty Frizzell's stunningly beautiful read of "Never No Mo' Blues" (1953), and the stunning "Travelin' Blues" by Elton Britt (1957). Grandpa Jones, Gary Williams, Johnny Duncan, Wanda Jackson, Bob King, and Hank Snow (of course) make appearances. This collection is strong from front to back with nary a sound out of place, filled with inspiration, melancholy, and true grit.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek