Don Walser is Texas, it's really as simple as that. He epitomizes the state's music even more than the legendary Willie Nelson. For years he toiled the honky tonks and bars while holding down a day job, and didn't record his first album until 20 years after his first single in 1964. But since he began recording, he's unleashed a series of classic Texas country tunes, starting with his signature piece, "Rolling Stone From Texas," represented, as it should be, in two versions: one the polished album edition, the other a rawer live version from 1964, the year it appeared as a single. What they bookend is nothing less than a series of marvels, like "The John Deere Tractor Song," a wonderful ode to farmers; a glorious version of "Whispering Pines" that shimmers, with Walser's soft yodel bumping it along; his own "Hot Rod Mercury," car nostalgia in four honky tonk minutes; and a very strange version of "Rose Marie," performed with the Kronos Quartet. There are tracks collected from soundtracks, compilation albums, and a couple of unreleased pieces, and they're all sung with the same easy grace that's Walser's trademark. He has a big voice (he's been called the Pavarotti of the plains), and while relaxed, there's sometimes a formality about it that harks back to the '30s and '40s, which suits songs like Felice Bryant's "We Could You and I," as well as his own wonderful material, which has brought him deserved success. Walser deserves a greatest-hits set, and this collection serves him very well indeed.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson
feat: Kronos Quartet
feat: Crystal Gayle