Dale Watson

Best of the HighTone Years – 2002 (HighTone)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

This collection from Dale Watson offers one variety of honky tonk by the former HighTone artist and is a fine introduction to the work done with the label.

HighTone released the first three records of Watson's recording career, and the tracks on this best-of comp are drawn more-or-less equally form all three. Watson has been a no-bones-about-it traditionalist ("traditional" being defined as '50s and '60s era honky tonk) from the start, and if he has always been at pains to make musical statements of his creed, Watson has steadily found his own voice as a songwriter and stylist with each successive release. This collection doesn't document that development so much as plucking expected catalog highlights, however. So, there's bows to his musical heroes (the anti-Nashville rant "Nashville Rash" and the play off of Haggard-and-Jones standards that "I Hate These Song" is built upon), representatives of his contributions to trucking music ("Truckin' Man," "Truckstop in La Grange"), and examplars of his shuffles ("Honkiest Tonkiest Beer Joint") and hurtin' cheatin' songs ("You Lie," "Pity Party").