Although this has no less than 21 of Red Sovine's chart hits (as well as three tracks that didn't make the Billboard listings), it's not quite a "Best Of," as it doesn't include any of the material he cut in the late 1940s and '50s. However, it does have all of his most popular 1961-'80 recordings for the Starday and Gusto labels, and as such is a definitive retrospective of the period during which the honky tonk singer enjoyed his greatest success. Bathetic recitations, sometimes with truck-driving themes, are what Sovine remains most famous for, and you'll find several such performances here, including his 1965 chart-topper "Giddy-Up Go." "Phantom #309" adds a twist to the formula by throwing a ghost in the mix, and late-'70s outings like "Daddy," "Last Goodbye," "Teddy Bear," and particularly "Little Joe" are as shamelessly sentimental as country music ever gets. These cross the line from melodramatic to embarrassingly contrived, sometimes employing ridiculously overblown, exploitative tragic narrative devices. It's not all tearjerkers, however, as Sovine often played it straight and sang relatively conventional honky tonk and country-pop tunes. Without those over-the-top recitations, to be frank, his work from these two decades might be consigned to journeyman status. When he's steering clear of the almost self-parodically maudlin, however, it's acceptable enough, throwing in a big surprise with a straightforward cover of Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally." Also on the CD are solo 1960s remakes of two of his 1950s hits as half of a duet with Webb Pierce, "Why Baby Why" and "Little Rosa."