Eddie Dean

The Very Best of Eddie Dean

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This is a "very best" compilation in the Varese Shasta Masters series that can live up to its name. Eddie Dean recorded 14 of the 16 tracks on this CD for Jimmy Wakely's Shasta Records label during the mid-'70s -- that date may shock listeners, for it places Dean in his sixties but sounding at least 25 years younger than that, and performing as a contemporary country artist of the era, not a nostalgia act or a latter-day singing cowboy, though he does do some of that repertory. The mix of songs includes the hits that Dean authored ("One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)," "I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven"), plus a brace of songs associated with people that Dean worked with or traditions with which he was connected, among them Gene Autry's "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine," Bob Nolan's "Cool Water," and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds." Interspersed among them is a selection of country standards, such as "The Green, Green Grass of Home," and traditional numbers, including "Shenandoah." There is also one cover of a song associated with Elvis Presley, "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You," which, with its engaging guitar flourishes and gentle accompanying chorus, could make you forget Presley's version. Dean's rich baritone is startlingly good, and sufficiently expressive to carry a country-waltz version of "Somewhere, My Love (Lara's Theme)" from Doctor Zhivago that ought not to be as appealing as it is. As a special bonus, the disc also includes a mid-'50s radio performance of "On the Banks of the Sunny San Juan" (which Dean co-authored in his singing cowboy days with his fellow actor Glenn Strange) and a demo of "My Whole Life Was You."

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