Omni Recording Corporation specializes in digging out the oddities in an established veteran's catalog, and their 2012 Burl Ives compilation Sweet Sad & Salty is no exception. Concentrating on his Owen Bradley-produced Nashville sessions of the '60s, this 31-track collection samples from eight different LPs released between 1961 and 1973, adding four previously unreleased tracks -- "Time to Bum Again," "Born for Trouble," "Unemployment Check," and "Hobo Jungle," none given specific copyrights in the liner notes -- to the mix. Many of these songs were written by Nashville heavyweights -- there's a ton of songs credited to Harlan Howard, and many more to Hank Cochran, Jack Clement, Boudleaux Bryant, Hank Cochran, and Mel Tillis -- which, combined with the role of Bradley and the omnipresent Anita Kerr Singers, goes a long way in explaining how firmly entrenched this music is within Music City, no matter what the candy-colored psychedelic artwork suggests. Only a handful of these cuts date from the back half of the '60s, and if the songs sometimes address the shifting tides (granddad Burl reads a "Girlie Magazine" in his easy chair; he sings a ditty about the "longhair boys and screaming females" on "The Sixties"), the bulk of the record consists of amiable country-pop performed with panache and a sly wink. Bradley's productions are a little more adorned than Ives' early folkier work, but this is still in that vein -- it's just that the songs are a little more varied musically and thematically, the productions a bit fuller. It's enjoyable and sometimes curious, but not revelatory.
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