Hank Locklin had a high, plaintive voice and a taste for heartbreaking barroom ballads and pure honky tonk that made him one of the best straight-ahead country singers of the '50s and early '60s. Although he had some big hits -- most notable his original "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On" and "Please Help Me, I'm Falling," along with "Why Baby Why," "Geisha Girl," and "It's a Little More Like Heaven" -- he was more of a country singer's country singer, which led to smaller hits as the '60s wore on, as well as a lack of available material even during the CD boom. Bear Family fixed that to a certain extent with two big, comprehensive box sets, and there was a decent Collectables collection in the late '90s, but it wasn't until 2003's RCA Country Legends that his greatest hits were available as strong single-disc collection. RCA Country Legends spans 16 tracks, running from 1956 to 1968, and unlike some volumes in the series, it concentrates on Locklin's hits -- which is appropriate since, as mentioned above, they had yet to make it to disc. So, 14 of these 16 tracks are hits, covering the great majority of his charting singles, and the result is necessary for any serious country collection. The times may have changed considerably in those ten-plus years covered on this collection, but Locklin held firm to his country ideals, and whittled down to the essentials as they are here, they offer proof of why country connoisseurs consider him among the best pure singers in the genre. This long-awaited collection finally offers the average listener a chance to hear why.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine