Tex Williams

The Very Best of Tex Williams

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The title must be taken with a grain of salt, since this CD is devoted toTex Williams' two major periods with Shasta Records, from 1959 through 1962 and the late '70s, not his classic Capitol material. And besides, any compilation claiming to be the "very best of" Tex Williams but doesn't contain "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)" is kidding someone. On the other hand, Williams' country baritone was in superb shape for these sessions, and it is a very good album, regardless of its unfortunate title. Williams' remake of "Shame on You," from his days with Spade Cooley, starts things off extremely well, in lively, vibrant fashion. These sessions weren't exercises in nostalgia -- rather, Williams cut his own versions of such then-current hits as "Big Bad John" and "Little Ole Wine Drinker Me," doing them as fresh recordings in his own style, and they come off very well four decades on, with a lot of energy and Williams fully engaged as a singer in his prime. His voice is not in quite as good condition for the handful of 1970s tracks featured here, but Williams still puts a lot into his rendition of Merle Travis' "Bummin' Around" and gets a lot out of it. Among the previously unissued cuts featured here, "Giddy-Up-Go" would belong on any real "very best of" Williams' music, but "Shakespeare Cha-Cha" is little more than a silly early-'60s novelty tune.

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