Roy Clark

The Very Best of Roy Clark

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Roy Clark, like his Hee Haw counterpart Buck Owens, was much more than just a grinning ambassador of televised cornpone humor. He was a first-rate guitar picker, faster than just about anyone. He also was a pop-country crooner, and that's the side of his career that Time Life's The Very Best of Roy Clark focuses on. Except for his 1963 hit "Tips of My Fingers," the rest of the songs date from the late '60s to mid-'70s, and apart from a somewhat subdued version of "Riders in the Sky" and the rollicking "Roy's Guitar Boogie," the bulk of the disc features Clark's gentle vocals and songs bathed in string sections, backing vocals, vocal choruses, and very slick sounds. Songs like "Yesterday When I Was Young," "Come Live With Me," and "Right or Left at Oak Street" are pure Nashville pop and as such are fine examples of the sound. Clark's limited vocal range helps adds pathos to the sometimes overly written lyrics, and the melodies are always sweet and simple. Where the disc picks up a little steam is on one song that breaks free of the Nashville orchestra stranglehold: "I Never Picked Cotton" is still highly produced, but the banjos and harmonica (and Clark's unusually forceful delivery) give the song some punch. It's too bad Clark didn't see fit to add more songs like this to the collection, not to mention recording more songs in this harder country vein. Still, if you're fan of Clark's pop sound, this is a pretty good collection, as good as any of his other hit sets.

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