Few if any major country artists of the 1980s and '90s had as consistent a run of strong recordings as Dwight Yoakam, and this compilation proves that even the material he gave away was better than what most of his peers were sending out as top-shelf product. Dwight's Used Records features cuts Yoakam contributed to several tribute compilations, duets that appeared on other artists' albums, and a few unreleased covers, and while the results aren't quite as cohesive as a proper album, nearly everything here would have fit the bill on a "real" Dwight Yoakam album. His duets with Deana Carter and Heather Myles show what a generous vocal partner he can be, while his turns with Ralph Stanley and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band add some new layers of depth to his traditionalist approach. Yoakam's covers of "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" and "Mercury Blues" are sly and witty but never descend into self-parody, and he sure does right by Johnny Cash and Webb Pierce as he tackles their songs. The album's only real flaw would be the two back-to-back versions of John Prine's "Paradise"; both performances are worthwhile, but over ten minutes of the song gets to be a bit much. Baring that, Dwight's Used Records is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of odds and ends that congeals into some solid listening -- but how come his superb version of Merle Haggard's "Holding Things Together" from the Tulare Dust album didn't make the cut?
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming
feat: Heather Myles