This double CD is just what it says: all three of the albums Lee Hazlewood recorded for MGM in 1965-1967, with the addition of three instrumentals attributed to Lee Hazlewood's Woodchucks (two of which came out on a 1966 single, the third of which, "Batman," was previously unissued). His first two MGM LPs, The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood (released in 1966) and the far more imaginatively titled Lee Hazlewood-ism: Its Cause and Cure (1967), together comprise the 22 songs presented on the first disc. In tandem, these two LPs arguably represented the peak of Hazlewood's mighty long and checkered career as a solo artist, containing some of his finest compositions; sympathetic production and arrangements combining pop, easy listening orchestration, rock, country, cowboy music, and folk; and a unique fusion of droll humor with pop hooks, storytelling, and even some genuine romantic sentiment. There are some silly throwaways, to be sure, but there are also some real standouts, like his 1966 duets with Suzi Jane Hokum on "Sand" and "Summer Wine" (which predate the far more famous duets of those tunes he recorded with Nancy Sinatra); the bullfighting epic "Jose"; the Native American narrative "The Nights"; his own comic version of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"; the almost morbidly fascinating moping ballad "My Autumn's Done Come"; and neglected gems of brooding, sumptuously orchestrated melodramatic pop like "Your Sweet Love," "For One Moment," and "I Am a Part." It's a little strange, and perhaps distracting to those who own the original LPs, that these 22 songs don't follow the sequence from the original vinyl (and switch back and forth between those albums), but everything's here. Most of the second disc is devoted to Something Special, recorded (save for one song) in 1967 but not released for two decades (and then only in Germany). Sadly, this is far less worthwhile than his prior two MGM LPs, sounding like an eccentric lounge country-jazz-pop singer, with (except for "Shades") none of the full orchestrated arrangements that had distinguished his prior MGM output, the material boasting far fewer pop hooks (if just as much oddball lyrics). The set finishes with the three Lee Hazlewood's Woodchucks instrumentals, which though rare are throwaways, combining generic pop/rock with cheesy mariachi flourishes. In truth, almost all of the memorable songs on here can be found on the single-disc Lounge Legends compilation, which has almost everything from The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood and Lee Hazlewood-ism: Its Cause and Cure, though the peppy, catchy "When a Fool Loves a Fool" (from The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood) somehow escaped inclusion on Lounge Legends. But for those willing to spend a little more money and time, this two-disc anthology covers all the bases of Hazlewood's MGM era, augmented by detailed liner notes and an MGM sessionography.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2