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Bobby Bare

The Essential Bobby Bare – 1997 (RCA)

Reviewed by David Purcell

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CDs by Bobby Bare

The legendary Bobby Bare gets the greatest hits treatment in the latest installment of RCA's "Essential..." series. Bare has spent the great majority of his career with RCA, so this 20-song release serves as a fine one-stop-shop introduction to Bare's work.

Bare is nothing if not versatile: throughout his career, he has been equally at home playing the role of Lefty Frizzell disciple, smooth "Nashville sound" devotee, and bad-boy early '70's outlaw. Bare's hallmark through these various stages has been the ability to tell stories, primarily the stories of others. Bare has succeeded with the songs of a veritable Who's Who of country songwriters, and this disc contains some of the greatest - Tompall Glaser & Harlan Howard, Mel Tillis, Jack Clement, Tom T. Hall and Billy Joe Shaver.

From the classics "Detroit City" and "Streets of Baltimore" to Shaver's brilliant "Ride Me Down Easy" to the silly "Dropkick Me, Jesus," this disc proves Bare's place in country music history as a fine country singer and even finer interpreter of great material.