David Houston

My Elusive Dreams: Epic Country Hits 1963-1974

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At first glance, this looks like the definitive David Houston best-of, since every one of these 23 tracks made the country Top Ten during his stay of a decade or so with Epic Records. It turns out, however, that it's virtually identical to the Collectors' Choice compilation The Best of David Houston, even down to the sequencing, with the solitary and curious omission of the number two 1973 single "Good Things." If you can't find the other anthology, however, this certainly has most or all of what a Houston fan would want, from his 1963 hit "Mountain of Love" (not the same song as the 1960 pop smash by Harold Dorman with the same title) through the mid-'70s. Looking at the chart statistics, it's astonishing just how successful Houston was: a couple dozen Top Ten hits, and seven chart-toppers, including five in a row in the late '60s. Why, then, is he "now largely forgotten," as the first three words of the liner notes plainly state? His quivering high voice isn't to everyone's taste (though, evidently, it was to the taste of a lot of people listening to country radio during this period). And for those who don't view countrypolitain music as a high point in country's evolution, the mainstream country-pop production will not mark this as durable material, though it marked important milestones in the ascent of Billy Sherrill (who produced, and wrote or co-wrote, most of these tracks). Houston does depart occasionally from the smooth pop numbers for something mildly energetic, and there are also duets with Barbara Mandrell and Tammy Wynette for slight changes of pace.

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