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Billy Yates

Billy Yates – 1997 (Almo Sounds)

Reviewed by Joel Bernstein

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CDs by Billy Yates

The debut from songwriter Billy Yates (who co-wrote George Jones' "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair") is not totally immune to the flaws of HNC, but still is much better than the norm.

Yates has a fine voice, sometimes reminiscent of Gene Watson, and is equally at home on ballads or up-tempo material. Producer Garth Fundis, who has worked with Trisha Yearwood and Don Williams, has enough taste to mix the drums at a reasonable level, so that even the worst tracks here are at least tolerable.

The uptempo songs do have lyrics that are pretty silly, but not so much HNC as sixties honky-tonk silliness. "Long Neck Connected To The Beer Joint" is so incredibly stupid (but infectious) that it may take its place alongside such enduring classics as "Sugar Sugar" and "Yummy Yummy Yummy." The ballads are much stronger lyrically. The hit "Flowers" borders on schlock, but that's not true of gems like "Broken Hearted Me" (co-written by Monte Warden), "Mama Said" and "Easier Said Than Done" ( both cowritten by Melba Montgomery). This is not exactly Shakespeare, but it's not exactly HNC either.