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Bill Anderson

Fine Wine – 1998 (Reprise)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Bill Anderson

Whispering Bill Anderson was one of the dominant country radio artists in the 1960's and 1970's with almost 60 hits, including a streak of 20 consecutive Top 10s between 1966 and 1973. He's also written some of the finest songs country fans have heard, from Ray Price's "City Lights" to Bryan White's "One Small Miracle," co-written with his admirer - and his producer - Steve Wariner. Anderson still sounds as good as ever. Those familiar with him aren't likely to change their opinions of the vocal style that earned him his nickname.

The 11 songs are vintage Anderson creations, ranging from the show business novelty, "My Van," to reminiscences like "Good Love And A Bottle Of Wine" and "Twenty Years," to the beautiful ballad, "Before." Wariner's arrangements deftly combine classic country, new country and pop touches, much as Anderson's many hit records did, and the result is a surprisingly strong album that stands on its own merits, rather than an attempted rehabilitation of a fading talent.

The centerpiece is a version of one of Anderson's greatest songs, "Tips Of My Fingers," which finds him taking turns with the singers who took it onto the charts after him: Roy Clark, Eddy Arnold, Jean Shepard and Wariner himself. It's a rare song that can chart in three different decades, but that's the kind of writer - and singer - Anderson is. It's good to have him back in the studio again.