Prior to 1993's double-disc box set Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line: The RCA Years, there was no comprehensive collection of Waylon Jennings' seminal RCA recordings, only three LP collections, each targeting specific eras in his career: 1970's The Best of Waylon Jennings covered his '60s material, including his country-folk hits; 1979's Greatest Hits zeroed in on his outlaw peak; and its 1985 sequel concentrated on the post-outlaw hangover. All had their attributes, especially the expertly assembled Greatest Hits, but none captured the full scope of his music, particularly because much of his great music never hit the charts. Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line doesn't limit itself to just the hits and, in fact, pulls many lesser-known singles and, more importantly, album tracks that were key to his reign as the king of outlaw country in the '70s. That's not to say that all of his great songs are here, since there are big tunes that should have been here: "Cedartown, Georgia," "Pretend I Never Happened," "The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to Get Over You)," and "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys" chief among them. That said, they're not particularly missed, since this collection manages to present nearly every facet of Waylon's musical personality, balancing the braggadocio and sensitivity in equal measure. Plus, it also has a great narrative, taking Waylon from his first Nashville hits, through his country-folk tunes, to the brilliant progressive country of the late '60s/early '70s, though the peak of outlaw, and to the beginnings of its decline. It's one of the great journeys in American music, and no other Waylon Jennings compilation tells the story so well and offers so much great, timeless music as this essential set.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2