This release highlights one of the most noted keyboard influences in pop music -- Floyd Cramer. His laid-back and non-threatening demeanor garnered him a reputation as an MOR artist, although the influence he had on rock & roll is also duly noted. This 16-track career retrospective presents many of Cramer's best-loved and remembered pieces in the highest sonic quality available on a domestic CD release. However, the collection does seem a bit less definitive considering that under half of the compact disc's maximum playing time -- 80 minutes -- is utilized on this package. Before Cramer became a solo artist, he spent his formative years as a session pianist performing first on the Louisiana Hayride radio program, accompanying the likes of Webb Pierce, Jim Reeves, and even a fledgling Elvis Presley. After signing with RCA Records in Nashville, Tennessee, the sides he cut for the label in the mid- to late '50s and early '60s became international hits synonymous with the full-bodied timbre and laid-back style known as "the Nashville sound." Every track on this compilation reveals Cramer's ability to take the piano -- which was becoming increasingly replaced by the electric guitar in pop music -- to a new strata as a lead instrument. His abilities range from jazzy pop music standards such as "Stormy Weather" to the chicken shack rockabilly of "Flip Flop Bop" to the haunting cover of "Rhythm of the Rain" (which includes an effective false ending). Cramer's influence spread to wherever there was a turntable. The effect that songs such as "Stormy Weather" and "Tricky" would have on the burgeoning West Coast "Bakersfield sound" is evident. What lies just below the surface, however, is the persuasion that this music would admittedly have on artists such as Keith Emerson and Elton John -- both of whom cite Cramer's sound as paramount among their inspirations.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer