Country singer and songwriter Bobby Bare was always eclectic, especially by country standards, choosing songs to record based on quality rather than trendiness, and he's always fallen to the maverick outlaw side of Nashville, placing himself in the company of artists and songwriters like Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, and Billy Joe Shaver. He's had chart hits here and there, but he never built his career on them, and stayed away from mere replication. This welcome two-fer reissue amounts to the great lost Bobby Bare album, combining 1970's The Real Thing (recorded at a time of discord between Bare and his then label, RCA Victor, Bare left the label and had signed with Mercury Records by the time the LP was released) and 1973's I Hate Goodbyes/Ride Me Down Easy, which marked his return to RCA after two years with Mercury. All of this is merely the back-story. Taken together, these two albums (and the extra bonus tracks included from the same time period) show Bare arguably at his peak, passionate, poignant, at times tongue-in-cheek, and endearingly just slightly off-kilter, all traits Nashville was a little nervous about.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett