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Various Artists

For the Long Haul: Songs for the Open Road – 2002 (Golden Ring Entertainment)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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One of the great things about truck drivin' songs is they are much like the people behind the wheel of a big rig on an open highway. They get straight to the point and generally like to put the hammer down.

This compilation of artists like Dave Dudley, Leroy Van Dyke and bluegrassers Don Rigsby, James King, Chris Jones and Kenny Smith singing a selection of old and new tunes doesn't break the pattern. In fact, the 11 songs revel in it. The longest cut clocks in at a shade over three minutes.

The album was conceived by syndicated radio host and trucker Big Al Weekley, who called on veteran singer-songwiter Bill Napier to assist with the project. Napier, however died unexpectedly just a few days later, and the project was put on hold. Fittingly, the album is dedicated to Napier and includes his classic song "Truck Drivin' Queen" with James King at the wheel. Dudley, who for the first time ever uses an all-acoustic setting, belts out in his trademark low, rumbling baritone "Drivin' Trains," which finds the legendary truck drivin' man opining that while engineers and cowboys are fine folk, he still prefers an 18-wheeler. The song was written by Dudley and his wife, Marie, specifically for the album.

King does a fine job on Carter Stanley's "Roll on Rubber Wheels," and Rigsby's sweet tenor romps through Tom T. Hall's "Ravishing Ruby." The album roars into high gear when Tony King and band lets fly on Townes Van Zandt's "White Freightliner." Weekley even contributes vocals on two songs, including his self-penned "18 Wheels Roll on."

Whether it's a long haul or a short drive to the grocery store, this album's a great companion on any road trip.