Slim Dusty was one of the greatest country artists of all time. The reason that that statement would seem insane to many music fans is due to the fact that they've probably never heard of him. Dusty (real name David Gordon Kirkpatrick) was an Australian who released more than 100 albums in a 60-year recording career while garnering a swag of gold and platinum records, awards, and honors and becoming a reluctant legend in his own lifetime. (Upon his death on September 19, 2003, at age 76, Dusty was accorded a state funeral.) It is fitting, then, that such a career be summed up in a greatest-hits collection and The Very Best of Slim Dusty does an admirable job, considering the vast wealth of material available to draw from. Dusty's best-loved numbers are here, including his signature song and sole international hit, "A Pub with No Beer." Other highlights include his last prominent song "Looking Forward, Looking Back" (penned by Don Walker, keyboard player for famed Aussie rockers Cold Chisel), the mateship number "Duncan," the Aussie-lingo lesson of "G'day G'day," and Slim's version of Australia's unofficial national anthem, "Waltzing Matilda." Then there's the trucker song "Lights on the Hill," the catchy black-sheep tale "The Biggest Disappointment," and the infectiously upbeat "Cunnamulla Fella." Much of this music derives from traditional American country music, but all of it has been indubitably seared with an Australian branding iron. The stories -- or "yarns," to use the Aussie vernacular -- are replete with the images and idiosyncrasies of the "Sunburnt Country" and its people, and delivered with a wink and a smile. Dusty's songs not only reflect Australian culture, they are Australian culture. A plain-looking, plain-voiced gentleman in an Akubra hat with a downturned brim, Slim Dusty knew the rhythm of the Australian pulse. His is inclusive music, all-inclusive -- you don't need to know the songs or the places they speak of to feel moved. The melodies are sometimes sweet, sometimes salty, and the language is that of the "everyman." In iconic terms, it would not be incorrect to say that Slim Dusty was, and is, Australia's Elvis. The Very Best of Slim Dusty is more than a record. To many people it is the poetry of a nation and the legacy of a fair dinkum national treasure.
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AllMusic Review by Adrian Zupp