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Gene Watson

Then And Now – 2005 (Koch Nashville)

Reviewed by Robert Loy

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CDs by Gene Watson

Gene Watson had 48 singles in the Top 40 during the '70s and '80s, but like a lot of guys from that era (including a lot of living legends), he has been shunted to the sidelines by our youth-obsessed culture. Which is too bad because with the possible exception of Vern Gosdin (another old master put out to pasture), there is nobody with as smooth a pure-country voice as Gene Watson.

This is not a collection of greatest hits (only 2 of these hit the top 10; 1975's "You Could Know As Much About a Stranger" and 1983's "Sometimes I Get Lucky and Forget"), nor is it all-new stuff either.

What Watson has done is gone back and re-recorded a bunch of what are sometimes called "deep tracks," songs from his unfortunately out-of-print albums that were never released as singles, although most of them should have been. The quiet heartache of "I Wonder How It Is In Colorado" and the lilting barroom pick-up tune "If I Were You" can teach the young turks who monopolize the airwaves a thing or two.

If you're fortunate enough to have the original versions of these songs, you might wonder why Watson chose to re-record them since he didn't really change much. The answer is you can't improve on perfection, and Watson probably wants to show that even after a bout with cancer, he hasn't lost any of his sparkle.