The Australia's Raven has issued a number of discs oriented toward Byrds collectors. Presumably, this explains the label's reissue of this relatively obscure country hitmaker's '60s hits and 1969 album California Stop-Over, since Clarence White plays on the latter. Johnny Darrell may not be a household name, but he displayed a remarkably consistent knack for being the first to record songs that -- in the hands of others -- soon became hits known by all, including "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (a number nine hit for Darrell) and "Green Green Grass of Home." Darrell also enjoyed the hits "With Pen in Hand" (his biggest at number three), "The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp" (which soon became a smash for O.C. Smith), and "Why You Been Gone So Long" (with a giant, driving hook that should have propelled it to number one). The California Stop-Over album is an all-star affair as far as the songwriting is concerned, featuring compositions by Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Hoyt Axton, Jackson Browne, and others. Although he made the Top 40 nine times in the late '60s, Darrell never caught on the way he should have, and now he's undeservedly a mere footnote for Byrdmaniax.
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