This CD reissue pairs Gene Watson's first and third albums together on a single disc. From 1975, Watson's debut, Love in the Hot Afternoon, included the hits "Love in the Hot Afternoon," "Where Love Begins," and "You Could Know as Much About a Stranger." Relying wholly on outside material, there wasn't much distinctive to Watson's approach to set him aside as a major talent. But his understated brand of country-pop with a honky tonk flavor was pleasing enough, and he was savvy enough to take material by some superior writers, like "Bad Water" (which was co-written by Jackie DeShannon), "Through the Eyes of Love" (by Jack Clement), and "For the First Time" (by Jessi Colter). Much of this mix of romantic ballads and moderately uptempo tunes was routine in melody and lyrical focus, though "This Is My Year for Mexico" added a nice Tex-Mex touch. But Watson did bring an unfettered sincerity to the proceedings, and the production, featuring top Nashville session cats like Charlie McCoy and Hargus "Pig" Robbins, didn't try to lay on too much. Paper Rosie, from 1977, featured the title track, an involved story-song with flutes, steel guitar, and soothing background choral vocals. It was a big hit for the singer, and set the mood for an album of low-key, indeed a little sluggish, Nashville country by a singer suited for songs with a resigned tone. He took on "If the Shoe Fits, Wear It" by Ray Griff, author of his mid-'70s hit, "Where Love Begins," and also covered numbers by Marty Robbins ("You Gave Me a Mountain"), Dolly Parton ("Most of All Why"), and Porter Wagoner ("Tennessee Sunshine"), cutting a little loose in a hoedown fashion for the Wagoner tune.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger