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Various Artists

Truck Driver's Boogie: Big Rig Hits, 1939-1969, vol. 1 – 2001 (Country Music Foundation/Audium)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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Though the '70's "Convoy" image of trucker country still tends to resonate most strongly these days with the public, the groundwork for the genre was laid much earlier, as this new 20-song collection shows.

Compiled by Diesel Only label head Jeremy Tepper, this is a gear-jammin' blast from start to finish and as fine a single-disc collection of pre-'70's trucker country as one is likely to find these days. Here at last is a collection that looks at the genre from a historical approach. Yes, '60's hits like Dick Curless' "A Tombstone Every Mile" and Dave Dudley's groundbreaking "Six Days On the Road" are here.

But so too are early entries like Cliff Bruner's "Truck Driver's Blues" from 1939 (far and away the best known of the early trucker songs), Karl & Harty's "Truck Driver's Sweetheart" (from 1942), Joe "Cannonball" Lewis' "Truck Driver's Night Run Blues" (from 1951), and Doye O'Dell's 1952 contribution, "Diesel Smoke (Dangerous Curves)," which featured some fine steel guitar work from a young Speedy West (who later ended up reprising his work on no fewer than three cover versions of the song).

As an added bonus, Tepper's fine liner notes provide a thoroughly entertaining account of the early years of the genre for newcomers and longtime collectors alike. Though other worthy collections exist (particularly Starday's 2-disc "Truckin' On"), "Truck Driver's Boogie" will leave you dreaming of the open road and, if only for an hour or so, considering a drastic change in careers.