Bare Tracks: The Columbia Years

Bare Tracks: The Columbia Years

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by Bobby Bare
     
 

After some steady success on Mercury and RCA in the first half of the '70s, including the Top Ten hit Sings Lullabys, Legends & Lies, Bobby Bare seemed poised for a breakout crossover success, particularly because such colleagues as Waylon Jennings and See more details below

Overview

After some steady success on Mercury and RCA in the first half of the '70s, including the Top Ten hit Sings Lullabys, Legends & Lies, Bobby Bare seemed poised for a breakout crossover success, particularly because such colleagues as Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson had become as popular as rock stars with the ascendancy of outlaw country in the mid-'70s. So, Bare signed with super-manager Bill Graham -- better known for managing rock stars than country singers, possibly best-known as a self-promoter -- rode out his second contract with RCA, and signed with Columbia...where he promptly flamed out on the charts, scoring just four Top 20 country singles over the course of seven LPs in six years, never once cracking the Top Ten. This lack of success may suggest that there was a dip in quality, which is hardly the case, since the Columbia albums were as consistently enjoyable and high-quality as his RCA and Mercury sides, as both Koch's 1999 compilation Bare Tracks and its unofficial companion, Edsel's 2000 The Columbia Years: Bare's Picks, prove. Although they cover the same ground and share seven songs, the two collections are quite different in character and intent, with Koch's sticking closer to the dictates of the charts and favoring his lighter, funnier material. Not that Bare Tracks has nothing but hits -- 11 of the 16 tracks charted, leaving room for a number of great album tracks, such as the surging "Appaloosa Rider," Shel Silverstein's "Rough on the Living," and a version of Don Schlitz's "The Gambler," which not only predates Kenny Rogers' hit version, it's weathered and knowing and much better. (None of these three songs made the Edsel collection.) Then, there are the singles, many of them very funny songs by Silverstein, who may never have had a better interpreter, because Bare brought a gravity to his silliness along with a wry, engaging delivery. "Numbers," where Bare gets subjected to a hilariously humiliating putdown by a woman he's trying to pick up, is perhaps the best example of this, but the rowdy "Tequilia Sheila" (both taken from the wild live album Down & Dirty) is equally good, while the all-star goofy singalong "Greasy Grit Gravy" is as irresistible as "Food Blues" is clever. But it's not just silly songs -- Bare turns in a great version of Guy Clark's raver "New Cut Road," finds the pathos in Boudleaux Bryant's "Take Me as I Am (Or Let Me Go)," and has a fine duet with Charlie Daniels' "Willie Jones." All of these are prime examples of Bare's knack for choosing the right material to match his gifts, something that didn't abandon him during his time at Columbia, no matter what the chart positions say. If anything, he started to know his gifts too well, choosing songs that fit him so comfortably, and delivering them so naturally, that only the already-converted appreciated them. Even so, the music has aged wonderfully and this, along with The Columbia Years, is well worth adding to any serious collection of '70s and early-'80s country music -- and they're different enough that both are necessary.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/16/1999
Label:
Koch Records
UPC:
0099923801320
catalogNumber:
8013
Rank:
132281

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