Porter Wagoner

What Ain't to Be, Just Might Happen

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During the boom years of the Nashville sound, country veteran Porter Wagoner was riding high with his popular TV variety show, scoring hits and releasing bizarre solo efforts like What Ain't to Be, Just Might Happen. Dating back to 1968's Bottom of the Bottle and 1970s Skid Row Joe, Wagoner's taste for loose concept albums finds fresh legs with this record's gallery of insane drifters. While the town loon is given the humanistic treatment on "Wally the Weirdo," those really beyond the pale are found running into walls and conjuring rhymes in the "Rubber Room." Peopling the equally strange, psychedelic-light music are bits of insanity-inducing echo, some cartoonishly avant-garde vocal harmonies, and Wagoner's melodramatic soliloquies. Completing the picture on "I Found a Man," Wagoner himself loses it by mistaking his soul for a catatonic man in the streets. Taking a break from these vaudevillian freakouts, "Wagoner" sets aside a few songs to chronicle country's garden-variety nutters losing it over lost love and crazed relationships; the quaintly bizarre backdrops of earlier numbers are soon replaced by straight country. An oddly satisfying mix of pedal-steel toe-tappers and high-grade kitsch.