Wynn Stewart

The Very Best of Wynn Stewart & Jan Howard

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Wynn Stewart and Jan Howard both recorded for Challenge Records in the late '50s and early '60s, during which time they cut several duets. The title of Varese Sarabande's 2004 compilation, The Very Best of Wynn Stewart & Jan Howard, suggests that this 18-track disc focuses solely on the duets, but there weren't enough duets to fill a collection of this size (in fact only one song -- "Wrong Company" -- hit the Billboard country charts). Instead, it collects four of those duets ("Wrong Company," "We'll Never Love Again," "How the Other Half Lives," "Yankee Go Home"), six solo singles by Stewart, and eight tracks by Howard. While there are Stewart compilations available -- a comprehensive box set on Bear Family and Varese itself has an excellent single-disc collection of hits -- Howard has yet to have her singles reissued on CD, so this release is quite welcome. Even if it effectively uses the better-known Stewart songs to sell the record, that's fine because Howard is a strong straight-ahead hardcore country singer, and the sides collected here are excellent, unheralded pure honky tonk with a Bakersfield tinge, worth acquiring even if you already own a Stewart collection or two.

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