Given the dearth of actual albums by country piano legend Floyd Cramer and the sheer abundance of collections -- the best of which is The Essential Floyd Cramer on RCA -- this two-fer on Collectables should be welcome to the musician's fans. The two albums compiled on this CD, The Magic Touch of Floyd Cramer and The Distinctive Piano Style of Floyd Cramer, were issued in 1965 and 1966, respectively. Far from pure country, these sides are drenched with the pop flavors of the day, from the former album's "Marilyn" by Anita Kerr and theme from the film Story of Three Loves to the latter's versions of "Tuxedo Junction," Allen Toussaint's "Naomi," and Ray Stevens' "Hong Kong." There are strings, horns, backing choruses, and all manner of Cramer-isms. Interspersed with the cover tunes are a slew of Cramer originals like the whomping boogie-woogie of "Shrum" and the jumping harpsichord rock & roll of "Hot Pepper," along with the honky tonk jazz version of Duke Ellington's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and the shimmying piano finger pop of "All Night Long" (which sounds like a mutant outtake by the Vince Guaraldi Trio for an animated Peanuts cartoon). Cramer was one of only three studio pianists in the Nash Vegas countrypolitan era, along with producer Owen Bradley and Hargus "Pig" Robbins, and was the first to become a solo star. These sides offer evidence as to why.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek