Raven's fourth Bobby Bare two-fer/expanded reissue digs up two heretofore un-reissued records from the mid-'70s: 1975's Cowboys and Daddys and 1977's Me and McDill, adding two Shel Silverstein tunes from Lullabys, Legends and Lies as bonus tracks. Both are transitional albums, capturing Bare as he shifts away from his progressive, folky early-'70s records to the wild and woolly outlaw of the late '70s, with the former leaning toward the introspective and the latter getting a little rougher and rowdier. Cowboys and Daddys is essentially a concept album about modern-day cowboys -- meaning that this is a tribute to the men who, in Bare's words, "ride pickup trucks (or anything else that'll hold still long enough for them to get on) instead of horses…so here's to the ropers and dopers, the redneck mothers, the cosmics, the drinkers and thinkers and all the other bicentennial 'cowboys.'" And so it is with Cowboys and Daddys, a collection that celebrates all manner of '70s mavericks via songs by Tom T. Hall, Terry Allen, Shel Silverstein, Ray Wylie Hubbard, David Charles Hickey, and Robert Lee McDill, all ideal authors for Bare's big, casually masculine baritone. Apart from a hairy version of Hubbard's "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother," a song that pretty much dictates such a reading, this is a relaxed, reflective record, similar in tone to its predecessors Lullabys, Legends and Lies and Hard Time Hungrys, but its themes point the way toward Bare's rangier, restless late '70s. Me and McDill is devoted to songs by Robert Lee McDill, a country songwriter who scored success in the mid-'70s when Waylon Jennings recorded his "Amanda" and Don Williams cut "Come Early Morning," among several other tunes. Bare doesn't cut either tune here, which winds up emphasizing McDill’s sly, rangy humor and dry sentimentality. Sonically, this production balances the sinewy guitars of outlaw with the cool veneer of mainstream country, the latter surfacing quite nicely on "Till I Get on My Feet," so it feels very much of the late '70s -- particularly with all its songs about cheating, the road, and raising hillbilly hell -- yet the record doesn’t fit into any specific movement. Me and McDill is an album that belongs to its time, when '60s country stars felt their age, sometimes raising a ruckus in defiance, sometimes letting the years pour over their bones, and Bare's 1977 LP is one of the best examples of that peculiar kind of middle-aged crazy.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine