Freddy Fender

Lone Star: The Best of Freddy Fender

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After serving time in Louisiana's Angola Prison on a trumped-up marijuana charge, Freddy Fender hit his stride with a spate of recordings for Cajun producer Huey P. Meaux, molder of hits for the Sir Douglas Quintet, Barbara Lynn, Roy Head, and others.

Although he had recorded rock & roll for Imperial Records and Spanish-language versions of rock hits for Falcon Records in McAllen, TX (and the absence of those marvelous sides brings our rating for this set down a point), Fender found the right fit with Meaux's stripped-down approach. The dual-language version of his biggest hit, "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," kicks things off, with "Vaya Con Dios," "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," and a country version of the Who's "Squeeze Box" also being counted up in the hits category. But this 16-tracker also features the swamp pop that Meaux could produce so well, and tracks like "Just a Moment of Your Time," "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," and a re-cut of "Oh Holy One" (a regional hit for him back in his Imperial rocker days) shine as brightly as the hits.

There's also strong R&B along with the country-oriented sides, with covers of Johnny Ace's "The Clock," Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine," and a duet with Tommy McLain on Buster Brown's "Fannie Mae" being three more highlights of the set. Freddy Fender may have been an unlikely country star, but these are sides with a strong identity and a wonderful reminder of what great crossover music can accomplish in the marketplace.

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