Two American country legends have recently been celebrated by Australia's Raven Records label with new 2-CD, multi-label anthologies - Jerry Jeff Walker ("Mr. Bojangles") and Bobby Bare ("Detroit City").
No Leavin' Texas 1968-82: The Classic Jerry Jeff follows Raven's recent reissue of three of the New York-born troubadour's albums in one package. This 2-CD anthology collects 39 tracks sourced from 15 albums on five different labels (Atco, Vanguard, Decca, MCA and Elektra) originally released between 1968 and 1982. It kicks off, appropriately enough, with "Mr. Bojangles" from Walker's debut album of the same name. Though the songwriter's earliest success (via a hit 1971 recording by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) has proven his most enduring, the former Ronald Crosby has continued to influence generation after generation of songwriters.
Walker has refused to be pigeonholed over the years, and has deftly incorporated a blend of styles in his own music, including country, folk, pop, blues, rock and jazz. That he wouldn't follow a "traditional" path was obvious from his first album, a "country" LP recorded in New York City! No Leavin' Texas traces Walker's path from early Atco and Vanguard recordings through his five straight Top 50 charting country albums for MCA and Elektra (which followed his move to Austin, Texas in 1971) all the way to 1982's CowJazz. Following CowJazz (his description of his musical style), Walker took a break from recording. He didn't return with another LP until 1987, by which point he had broken off entirely with the major label system.
In addition to his own songs, No Leavin' Texas features Walker's interpretations of others' compositions, too, including Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings" (from 1977's A Man Must Carry On), Willie Nelson's "Pick Up the Tempo" (from 1975's Ridin' High), Rodney Crowell's "I Ain't Livin' Long Like This" (from 1979's Too Old to Change) and a trio of songs from Guy Clark, "That Old Time Feeling" and "L.A. Freeway" (both culled from his 1972 Decca self-titled album) and "Comfort and Crazy" (from 1978's Jerry Jeff). Even Tom Waits is represented with Walker's cover of his "(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night," off Jerry Jeff's 1976 It's a Good Night for Singin'.
Touching on all of Walker's various sides, No Leavin' Texas paints a full portrait of the artist as vocalist and songwriter. With al tracks remastered by Warren Barnett, it includes a new 12-page full-color booklet with liner notes by Thom Jurek.
Bobby Bare, born not in Detroit City but in Ironton, Ohio, first rose to prominence when Nashville Sound pioneer/legendary guitarist Chet Atkins signed him to RCA in 1962. But Bare's story actually begins prior to that, when he recorded a demo of a little novelty song he'd written called "The All American Boy." But with Bare drafted into the army, it was decided to release the demo under the name of his friend Bill Parsons - and Parsons' name remained as singer and songwriter when the song reached No. 2 on the Billboard Pop chart in 1960! "The All American Boy" begins Raven's Storyteller: The Anthology 1960-83 which takes in a whopping 51 tracks first released on RCA, Mercury and Columbia Records. Like the Walker set, it follows other reissued titles from Bare on the Raven label.
Though Bare was a songwriter himself, the first song Bare released on the RCA label in 1962 was "Shame On Me" by Bill Ennis and Lawton Williams. It was a No. 18 Country/No. 23 Pop hit, showcasing Atkins' lush, trademark countrypolitan sound. Bare's very next RCA release, "Detroit City," became a career high point. The Mel Tillis/Danny Dill song made it to No. 6 Country and No. 16 on the Hot 100, netting the artist a Grammy Award in 1964. Bobby Bare was off and running, notching subsequent hits including his adaptation of a traditional ballad, "500 Miles Away from Home," and Ian Tyson's "Four Strong Winds." All of these tracks, of course, are featured on Raven's new anthology.
In 1970, Bare departed RCA for Mercury, where he continued his hitmaking streak with songs by Tom T. Hall ("How I Got to Memphis"), Kris Kristofferson ("Come Sundown" and "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends"), Shel Silverstein ("Sylvia's Mother") and even Carole King and Toni Stern ("What Am I Gonna Do"). Bare became closely identified with Silverstein's quirky songs, fourteen of which are reprised on this collection. Upon returning to RCA, he scored his only Country chart-topper with Silverstein's "Marie Laveau" in 1974. Other hits ensued during Bare's second tenure at RCA, including Billy Joe Shaver's "Ride Me Down Easy."
Raven's compilation follows Bare next to Columbia Records, where he remained from 1978 to 1983. At Columbia, he continued to hone his persona as purveyor of novelty songs ("a smart-ass redneck clown," per Keith Glass' new liner notes here) while also recording a hit duet with Rosanne Cash (Rodney Crowell's "No Memories Hangin' 'Round") and cutting Don Schlitz's "The Gambler" before Kenny Rogers immortalized the tune. Though better-known during the Columbia years for fare like "I've Never Gone to Bed with an Ugly Woman," Bare also recorded more "straight" country songs including Bob McDill's "Song of the South." (Both songs came from the album called Drunk and Crazy.)
After 1983's Drinkin' from the Bottle, Bobby Bare all but retired from the recording studio, though he returned in 1998, joining with Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis and Jerry Reed as a group of Old Dogs. Subsequent recordings arrived in 2005 and 2012, even as his son Bobby Bare Jr. followed in his father's singer-songwriter footsteps. Storyteller: The Anthology has been remastered by Warren Barnett, and the 12-page full-color booklet features Keith Glass' notes.
Both of these comprehensive collections from Jerry Jeff Walker and Bobby Bare can be ordered at the links below!
- The All American Boy
- Shame on Me
- Detroit City
- 500 Miles Away from Home
- Miller's Cave
- Four Strong Winds
- Long Black Limousine
- Have I Stayed Away Too Long
- It's Alright
- A Dear John Letter - Skeeter Davis and Bobby Bare
- Together Again - Skeeter Davis and Bobby Bare
- Times Are Gettin' Hard
- The Long Black Veil
- A Little Bit Later on Down the Line
- The Streets of Baltimore
- The Town That Broke My Heart
- (Margie's At) Lincoln Park Inn
- When Am I Ever Gonna Settle Down
- God Bless America Again
- How I Got to Memphis
- Come Sundown
- Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends
- Help Me Make It Through the Night
- What Am I Gonna Do
- The Year That Clayton Delancey Died
- Ride Me Down Easy
- Daddy, What If
- Marie Laveau
- Dropkick Me, Jesus
- Sylvia's Mother
- The Mermaid
- The Winner
- The Gambler
- Greasy Grit Gravy
- Sleep Tight, Good Night Man
- No Memories Hangin' 'Round - Rosanne Cash with Bobby Bare
- Red Neck Hippie Romance
- Tequila Sheila
- Some Days are Diamonds (Some Days are Stone)
- Rough on the Living
- I've Never Gone to Bed with an Ugly Woman
- Song of the South
- The World's Last Truck Drivin' Man
- Willie Jones
- Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go)
- New Cut Road
- Praise the Lord and Send Me the Money
- The Jogger
- Diet Song
- Driftin' Way of Life
- Morning Song to Sally
- I Makes Money (Money Don't Make Me)
- Help Me Now
- I'm Gonna Tell on You
- A Secret
- Hill Country Rain
- Charlie Dunn
- That Old Time Feeling
- A. Freeway
- Gettin' By
- Desperados Waiting for a Train
- Up Against the Wall, Redneck
- Salvation Army Band
- Pot Can't Call the Kettle Black
- Pissin' in the Wind
- (Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night
- Pick Up the Tempo
- She Left Me Holdin'
- Standin' at the Big Hotel
- Couldn't Do Nothin' Right
- Old Five and Dimers Like Me
- Some Day I'll Get Out of These Bars
- It's a Good Night for Singin'
- Don't It Make You Wanna Dance
- One Too Many Mornings
- Leavin' Texas
- Tryin' to Hold the Wind Up With a Sail
- Suckin' a Big Bottle of Gin
- Eastern Avenue River Blues
- Comfort and Crazy
- Northcoast Texas Women
- Too Old to Change
- I Ain't Livin' Long Like This
- Got Lucky Last Night
- Maybe Mexico
- Dealing with the Devil