Ed Bruce

The Tennessean

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Bruce released these in the wake of Waylon & Willie's huge success with his "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," a song that helped break outlaw country into the mainstream, and Bruce followed in its path, creating records that offered a commercial spin on that sound but never found their way onto the charts. Tennessean picks up on the relaxed, masculine vibe of Waylon's ballads but Bruce never sounds as macho as Jennings; he's so at ease in his skin he almost disappears into Buddy Killen's lush productions, turning the bulk of this into easy listening country. Of course, this means that it can sometimes flirt with schlock -- especially on the mawkish "Wedding Dress" -- but it also gets into the downright bizarre, as on Dennis Wilson's freakish "Never Takes Candy from a Stranger," a Baroque symphony of creepy loneliness. But the best of Tennessean occurs when the strings step back and it gets closer to pure country, as on the two stunners "Am I Gonna Have to Burn Atlanta Down" and "When I Die Just Let Me Go to Texas," two singles that should have been hits for Ed Bruce, but at least Tanya Tucker brought the latter up the charts later as "Texas (When I Die)."