Wayne Raney's considerable legacy hadn't been well served by the CD era at the time of this 2002 release. This 25-track anthology is a good if imperfect start to correcting that imbalance. It's imperfect because it doesn't by any means have every significant King side waxed by this important country-boogie singer and harmonica player. In fact, it hardly renders the best prior CD compilation of Raney's work (Songs of the Hills) redundant, since about half of the songs on that budget-looking disc don't appear here. Still, it's a good survey of material that Raney cut at King in the late '40s and early '50s, including his big hit "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me" and such galvanizing hillbilly harmonica boogies as "Fast Train Through Arkansas," "Catfish Baby," and the great "Jack and Jill Boogie" (which clearly anticipates the riff exchanges of rock & roll). There are some nice close harmony ballads like "Lonesome Wind Blues" with clearer roots in old-time music. But there are a surprising number of tamer, more country-oriented performances that aren't nearly as raw and exciting as his hot harmonica boogies, particularly the later the year of recording, and Raney's voice is much less effective when he isn't bolstered by harmonizing singers. Yet it's a valuable package overall, boosted by liner notes giving a thorough overview of Raney's career. The CD has a previously unissued, undubbed version of his 1952 single "Undertakin' Daddy" (the overdubbed version from the released single is also included).
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger