Where 1965 saw Hank Thompson & His Brazos Valley Boys start a cycle of drinking albums that offered, in cheery fashion, the dark side of the bottle, that cycle came to an end after a ton of touring and three years later with one of the, if not the, finest Thompson recordings of all time. On Tap, in the Can or in the Bottle features 12 tracks of Thompson's best songwriting either solo or with partners, all centered around a moving set of Western swing, honky tonk, and country boogie melodies that features subjects of loss, grief, alcoholism, and its costs. These songs are sad, dark, and fermented in heartbreak and tragedy, yet along with Merle Travis helping out on lead guitar on cuts such as "He's Got a Way With Women," the title track, "Here Is the Circus," "Where Is the Clown," "I've Got a Date With a Teardrop," "No. 1 on the Hurt Parade," and "Love Walked Out Before She Did," darkness never sounded so bright and as a result so pathological. In addition, Thompson knew how to construct the country song in such a way that it left the listener wanting always more. There isn't a cut here over three minutes, and virtually by today's standards, every cut could have been a single. A masterpiece of writing, playing, sequencing, and overall honky tonk bravado, On Tap, in the Can or in the Bottle is one of the greatest country records of all time.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek