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Porter Wagoner

Wagonmaster – 2007 (Anti-)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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CDs by Porter Wagoner

Porter Wagoner's latest is a terrific album. It's a collection that fits seamlessly into Wagoner's long and impressive body of musical work, while at the same time representing an artistic stretch on behalf of the artist and his reverential producer, Marty Stuart.

The album is bookended with "Wagonmaster 1 & 2," a quick fiddle ditty with producer Stuart introducing the artist, "Wagonmaster's comin..." and Wagonmaster's leavin'..." in a way almost akin to a stage performance. In between, Wagoner treats us to a wonderful collection of country material including "My Many Southern Trips," "Be A Little Quieter" and Shawn Camp's rollicking "Hotwired." Wagoner takes time to introduce several songs, including "Albert Erving" and the classic "Commited to Parkview," written by Johnny Cash and reminiscent of Wagoner's 1960's cult-classic "The Rubber Room."

No Wagoner album would be complete without a gospel number or two. Here, he treats us to some wonderful spiritual material, including a tear-inspiring, recitation, "Harold Lee," in the manner of his 1960's classic, "Be Careful Of Stones That You Throw."

The album ends with a 'producer's track,' featuring Stuart and Wagoner talking about Hank Williams, Porter's recitation of "Men With Broken Hearts" and then one final song, "(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle Blow."

At 79, Wagoner's is somewhat gravelly. Despite this, he's still a strong singer who can hit all the notes he needs to. The care and sincerity shown by both Wagoner and Stuart is evident and this is a fitting product from one of music's true living legends.