Red Simpson

The Man Behind the Badge

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A good thematic collection comprised of songs about the police and the job they do. It may seem strange, when at least a small but significant portion of the audience for country music professes to have no use for any law but their own; in 1966, to lots of people under the age of 30, this was a totally alien effort. But country audiences ate it up then, lofting the single "The Highway Patrol" high onto the country & western charts. Everything here is a good example of the so-called Bakersfield sound, melding the working-class ethos of Merle Haggard with the polished professionalism of Buck Owens. Simpson is very clever in his use of language and imagery -- "(Mary, Oh Mary) I'm Turning in My Star" is presents the grim side of its subject in what, at first, threatens to be a country equivalent of a teen death song, but becomes, instead, almost a screenplay set to music. Ken Nelson gave him the best production possible, a crisp, lean, lively sound with a lot of energy and tension, especially in the rhythm section and the lead guitar, and the result is an album that has held up exceptionally well.

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