Bobby Bare

The Singles 1959-1969

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If BMG International's 2001 double-disc set Singles: 1959-1969 looks and feels like a Bear Family release, there's good reason for it: The label's president and mastermind, Richard Weize, produced this reissue, and it bears that label's typeface and zeal for completion. Considering that Bear Family covered this era in depth on their four-disc 1994 box set All-American Boy, some might wonder whether a thorough, 47-song double-disc set like this is necessary, but it is, because it's the sharpest, savviest overview yet of this great body of work. Throughout his career, Bobby Bare produced surprising, unpredictable country music that mixed in elements of rock & roll, honky tonk, folk, and even a hint of pop -- a sound that he etched out during those fruitful, successful years at RCA chronicled here. While not as concise as a single-disc collection, this not only offers more hits than any single CD, it also illustrates how far-reaching and imaginative the bulk of his RCA work is. True, this sprawls out over its two discs, and there are a couple of merely OK songs scattered throughout its running length (including two tracks in German), but there are so many great songs here -- not just "All American Boy," "Detroit City," "The Streets of Baltimore," and "500 Miles Away From Home," either, but sides like "Just to Satisfy You" and "Times Are Gettin' Hard" that didn't climb so high on the charts -- that such complaints seem churlish. Yes, completists will opt for the box set, and Razor & Tie's 1994 single-disc collection remains an excellent introduction, but those listeners that merely want a comprehensive look at Bare's most essential recordings should turn here.

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