Stonewall Jackson is a neglected figure in country music. Perhaps it was his name, which gave the impression that he was a singer with a corny stage name, when it was in fact his birth name, given to him by a father who believed he was a descendent of General Stonewall Jackson and died three weeks before his son's birth. Perhaps it's because his breakthrough single, 1959's "Waterloo," a record that superficially seemed to be a historical number like "Battle of New Orleans" but was actually a clever folk-country tune co-written by Marijohn Wilkin and John D. Loudermilk. Perhaps it was because that even when he had a bit of a revival when Dwight Yoakam covered "Smoke Along the Track" in the '80s, there was no accompanying CD reissue of Stonewall's best work to help restore his reputation. These kind of contradictions camouflaged his excellent traditionalist country that nimbly touched on folky storytelling, barroom ballads, railroad songs, jailhouse tunes, novelties, and honky tonk, encapsulating everything that was pure mainstream country during the '60s. He wasn't as hardcore as his honky tonk contemporaries, which may be one of the reasons he was overlooked, but as Collectors Choice's splendid 2002 compilation The Best of Stonewall Jackson illustrates, he had a sturdy, enjoyable body of work that holds its own among the best country of the '60s. Yes, sometimes it gets a little silly, whether it's in production flourishes or in songs like the anti-protest "The Minute Men (Are Turning in Their Graves)," but these are the exceptions, not the rule; Jackson could even give Lobo's fluffy "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" a country kick in 1971, even if he reportedly wasn't too happy with the song itself, according to Colin Escott's typically excellent liner notes. Over the course of 24 tracks -- including all of his major, Top 40 country hits, along with his last charting hit, "Torn From the Pages of Life" -- The Best of Stonewall Jackson makes the case for his talents, and it's convincing. He was a straight-ahead singer, armed with good songs and a simple, direct delivery that never wavered. It lead to a decade-long streak of hits that may not have been as fondly remembered outside of the '60s as they should have been, but this long-overdue comprehensive retrospective gives them another chance and any fan of unadorned mainstream country will find this very satisfying.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine