The first of two comprehensive Bear Family sets chronicling the recordings of unheralded hard country singer Eddie Noack, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes covers the years from 1949 and 1961. He started out on Gold Star and stayed there until 1951, when he went over to Four Star, with his big break arriving in 1954, when he fell under the wing of Pappy Daily, who brought him over to Starday and then had him follow Pappy to both D and Mercury. Daily didn't just sign Noack, he was an advocate, getting his superstar George Jones to record many different Noack songs, including "Relief Is Just a Swallow Away" which, when combined with Hank Snow's hit version of Eddie's "These Hands," helped establish Noack as a country songwriter. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes shows that, in addition to being a good Nashville craftsman, he was also a solid singer in his own right, working in the vein of Hank Williams, singing hard country that sounded very much like that of George Jones. Where Jones was a dynamic, expressive singer, Noack was plain-spoken and stoic -- an attribute that is admirable, sometimes alluring, but rarely makes a singer a star. Noack was never a star, though it wasn't for lack of trying. All those attempts, along with several unreleased demos which capture his folkier side, are collected here, and although there is a slight saminess to this collection, the sturdiness of Noack's writing and singing cannot be denied. He sounds like an important cog in the machine: a reliable songwriter and good performer who unfortunately just couldn't catch a break.