Red Sovine

Greatest Hits

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There isn't a whole lot of middle ground when it comes to the music of Red Sovine -- you're either a soft touch for his brand of sentimental storytelling (usually involving truck drivers and unfortunate children), or it makes your fillings ache like you've eaten too much sugar. This compilation of 18 classic Sovine tracks from his years with the Starday and Gusto labels isn't going to convince anyone from the latter category to change sides, but if you're a fan, this is certainly one of the better compilations covering his career. Greatest Hits includes the teary recitations that made Sovine famous, including "Teddy Bear," "Giddyup Go," and "Phantom 309," and while his technique wasn't exactly subtle, Red sure knew how to spin a tale and make it memorable, and the fact he continued to have hits in this style for a span of more than ten years says a lot about their impact. This set also includes a handful of lesser known recordings that briefly grazed the charts, including a few in which Sovine actually sings, and sings rather well (his cover of "Why Baby Why" won't make anyone forget George Jones, but it actually charted higher than Old Possum's original, and Sovine had an unexpected knack for cheatin' songs), while Bill Dahl contributes a well-written biography of the veteran performer in his liner notes. While Sovine's early sides for MGM and Decca don't make the cut, Greatest Hits indeed offers up this distinctive performer's best-known songs, and presents them in solid form; if it's a shade short of definitive, it's as much Red Sovine as most folks will ever need.

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