Various Artists

Hillbilly Fever, Vol. 2: Legends of Honky Tonk

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Hillbilly Fever, Vol. 2: Legends of Honky Tonk Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Hillbilly Fever, Vol. 2: Legends of Honky Tonk is an essential primer in country music's most enduring genre, boasting some of the greatest barroom tunes ever recorded during the genre's heyday. Beginning in 1937 with Al Dexter's "Honky Tonk Blues" and ending 30 years later with Jim Edward Brown's "Pop A Top," the disc contains definitive cuts from nearly all of honky tonk's major players, including Rex Griffin ("The Last Letter"), Ernest Tubb ("Walking the Floor Over You"), Floyd Tillman ("Drivin' Nails in My Coffin"), Hank Williams ("Honky Tonkin'"), Leon Payne ("I Love You Because"), Hank Thompson ("The Wild Side of Life"), Lefty Frizzell ("Just Can't Live That Fast [Any More]"), and George Jones ("A Girl I Used to Know"). Though several additional songs and artists could have been included, Legends of Honky Tonk is nevertheless an essential overview and introduction to country's defining genre. [None of the five discs in the Hillbilly Fever series sold in its initial release, probably because its title was too smug to appeal to either hardcore record collectors or casual country fans. A year after the release of Hillbilly Fever, Rhino reissued the entire series under the title Heroes of Country Music. Unfortunately, the second time around, they pulled several essential tracks from each disc. But even in its edited form, the series is worth getting.]

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