Ed Bruce

Ed Bruce

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Ed Bruce was one of those veteran country performers like Freddie Hart and Bob Luman who dabbled in rock & roll in the '50s, soldiered on through the lean years of the '60s, and finally enjoyed substantial success in the '70s. Bruce was even a later bloomer than the others since he enjoyed his biggest hits in the early '80s. Ed Bruce produced three hits, two of which were the highest-charting ones of his career up to that point. "The Last Cowboy Song" got a boost from Willie Nelson's guest vocal, but "Diane" and "Girls, Women and Ladies" rose under Bruce's own steam. Bruce's Marlboro Man appearance and working-man voice -- like Johnnie Lee with stronger material overall -- gave him an identifiably country but contemporary sound. Bruce, a talented songwriter, co-wrote most of the songs on the album and leaned on his collaborators for the rest; as a result, the album has a very cohesive feel, unlike the hodgepodge sound of many country albums that use numerous outside songwriters. The one exception is a good one: Bruce covers John Prine's poignant "Blue Umbrella," but his bright contemporary reading is less melancholy than Prine's original. With Ed Bruce, Bruce was approaching his peak and soon would be consistently enjoying this kind of success.

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