Joe Stampley

Good Ol' Boy: His Greatest Hits

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Released the same year as Varese's The Best of Joe Stampley, Razor & Tie's Good Ol' Boy: His Greatest Hits compliments the other label's collection. Where Varese's 18-track disc focuses on Stampley's early-'70s recordings for Dot/ABC, this concentrates on his late-'70s/early-'80s work for Epic. The two discs share a mere four tracks -- the Dot singles "If You Touch Me (You've Got to Love Me)," "All These Things," and "Soul Song" and the Epic-era Moe Bandy duet "Just Good Ol' Boys" -- so they have considerably different feels, and ironically enough, the album covers do not offer a clear indication of which era is covered where, since the Varese features a contemporary photo and it's all old material, while Razor & Tie boasts an older photo and new recordings. Phew! The two taken together provide a full picture of Stampley's career as a hitmaker, but as individual collections they can be problematic, since the Varese doesn't have as many big hits but does have better music (and, unfortunately, is now out of print), while the Razor & Tie has the big hits (including four duets with Bandy) but runs out of musical steam about halfway through, as the '70s give way to the '80s and Stampley turns toward slicker, pop-inflected production. That most of the limp singles are in fact "CD bonus tracks" doesn't matter because they slow down the flow of the record and their overly polished, heavily synthesized productions undercut Stampley's vocals, which are still good, along with the memory of the strong honky tonk and country-soul that comprise the first ten songs or so -- and the Bandy duets that close the record hammer home that no matter how strongly Stampley started his stint at Epic, it ended up in a place that didn't showcase his talents. Nevertheless, those duets, combined with the first 11 tracks, help drive up the number of successful sides, and even if he slumped in the early '80s, his '70s Epic material -- including "Roll On, Big Mama," "Dear Woman," "Red Wine and Blue Memories," "If You've Got Ten Minutes, Let's Fall in Love," and "Put Your Clothes Back On" -- holds its own with the Dot recordings musically (plus, they were also bigger hits). Plus, that slump is an accurate reading of his career, as well, so Good Ol' Boy does its job well, summarizing the Epic recordings, warts and all.

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