Various Artists

Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Hillbilly Music: 1958

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AllMusic Review by

Bear Family continues its stellar series of hony tonk classics, Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Hillbilly Music, with 1958 being the year in review this time out. The inestimable Colin Escott is the series' reissue producer, and he introduces the set with an excellent liner essay; painstakingly researched discographical information is painstakingly provided by Richard Weize and his staff. As always, the packaging, a single disc packed in a hardback bound digipack with 72 pages of text and photos with interviews, studio reminiscences, and more, is outdone only by the music itself. The '50s in general were great years for country music, but the mid- to late entries in the decade were stratospheric as traditional country gave way to hillbilly boogie, rockabilly, and hard-edged honky tonk. This collection boasts Ray Price's "Invitation to the Blues" and "City Lights"; Faron Young's "Alone with You"; Webb Pierce's "Tupelo County Jail"; Kitty Wells' "I Can't Stop Loving You"; the Louvin Brothers' "My Baby's Gone"; Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me" and "Blue Blue Day"; Lefty Frizell's "Cigarette and Coffee Blues;" Jerry Lee Lewis' reading of "You Win Again"; Johnny Cash's "Ballad of a Teenage Queen," and 19 more. There isn't a weak moment here, but there is a great surprise in the inclusion of "Country Music Is Here to Stay" by Simon Crum (better known as Ferlin Husky). While every volume in this series is well worth owning, those from 1955 on are indispensable.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:33
2 2:16
3 2:15
4 2:13
5 2:47
6 2:35
7 2:08
8 2:53
9 2:34
10 2:32
11 2:10
12 2:38
13 2:50
14 2:31
15 2:34
16 2:31
17 1:58
18 2:22
19 2:38
20 2:59
21 2:35
22 2:07
23 2:59
24 2:00
25 2:08
26 2:18
27 2:28
28 1:53
29 3:13
30 2:16
blue highlight denotes track pick