The Best of the Hightone Years

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Thanks to his powerful memorial album Every Song I Write Is for You, a beautiful but gut-wrenching love letter to his late fiancée, Dale Watson's career and reputation have picked up steam. But since the mid-'90s, he's unleashed a bunch of blue-blood honky-tonk and traditional country that make him the second coming of Merle Haggard. The comparison is apt, because Watson's deep, resonant baritone recalls the young Hag in full emotive flower, as does the uncompromising blend of the hard-edged and the tender-hearted in his musical approach. The budget-line Best of the Hightone Years spotlights a baker's dozen of vintage early Watson, all of it must-listen fare, from the ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
Thanks to his powerful memorial album Every Song I Write Is for You, a beautiful but gut-wrenching love letter to his late fiancée, Dale Watson's career and reputation have picked up steam. But since the mid-'90s, he's unleashed a bunch of blue-blood honky-tonk and traditional country that make him the second coming of Merle Haggard. The comparison is apt, because Watson's deep, resonant baritone recalls the young Hag in full emotive flower, as does the uncompromising blend of the hard-edged and the tender-hearted in his musical approach. The budget-line Best of the Hightone Years spotlights a baker's dozen of vintage early Watson, all of it must-listen fare, from the latter-day gear-jammer classics "Hey Driver" and "Truckin' Man" to the shuffling ode to the honky-tonk life in "The Honkiest Tonkiest Beer Joint" to the moaning lament of the broken-hearted in "I Hate These Songs." Regardless of the style, Watson demonstrates the complete and convincing mastery of a country classicist who's learned his stuff not by imitating old records but by livin' it, day and in and day out.
All Music Guide
It might deem strange to place country singer and songwriter Dale Watson in the context of contemporary country. Surely, Watson is more than the spiritual heir of Merle and Buck -- his music has all the dim lights and beer mugs of the best honky tonk. This compilation creams the best work of his three Hightone discs, all of which sound as if they should have been recorded in the '50s or '60s rather than the '90s; if there ever was a man out of time, it's Dale Watson. He can write some classic cheating songs like "Caught" and truckers' anthems such as "Hey Driver" and "Truckstop in La Grange" (which might be the only song to celebrate La Grange, KY, and romanticize I-71), and condemn modern country on "Nashville Rash," which also pays tribute to his heroes. His deep voice and style (which can easily become a sing-speak) owe plenty to Merle Haggard and a little to George Jones, while his players, including the great Jerry Donahue, can twang like there's no tomorrow. That said, the only place where it comes unstuck is on "Blessed or Damned," which tries to step outside the musical and lyrical boundaries where he is comfortable. This is also the place, amid all of these others, that Watson appeals -- at least on CMT and GAC -- to listeners of the more pop-oriented country music of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Truth is, they still appreciate the real thing, especially when it's played by a guitar-slingin' no-nonsense redneck son of a gun. Watson's penchant for stripped-down rockabilly riffs -- even if they do come by way of Bakersfield -- are still rock & roll roots music. So, if you think honky tonk died when Jones and Hag fell off the charts, or appreciate hard, beer-drinking, hell-raising music, then you need this, quite simply. It's not alt-country or neo-traditionalist country (whatever those things are); it's nothing but dyed-in-the-wool heartbreak diesel, although you need to bring your own beer to cry into. If you get a hankering for that classic country sound, placed in a contemporary context of American music (Watson calls it "Ameripolitan"), then Dale Watson's your man. ~ Chris Nickson & Thom Jurek
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/15/2002
  • Label: Hightone Records
  • UPC: 012928814027
  • Catalog Number: 8140
  • Sales rank: 110,785

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Dale Watson Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Background Vocals
Jerry Donahue Electric Guitar
Jimmy Day Steel Guitar
Merle Brigante Drums
Floyd Domino Piano, Wurlitzer
Gene Elders Fiddle
Lloyd Maines Acoustic Guitar, Steel Guitar
Marty Muse Steel Guitar
Marty Rifkin Steel Guitar
David Sanger Drums
Herb Steiner Steel Guitar
Redd Volkaert Electric Guitar
Robert Lily Acoustic Guitar
Dave Biller Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Background Vocals
John Ludwick Background Vocals
Craig Allan Pettigrew Bass Guitar, String Bass
Scott Walls Steel Guitar
Preston Rumbaugh String Bass
Dennis Vanderhoof Drums
Karen Poston Background Vocals
John Minton Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Bruce Bromberg Producer
James Tuttle Engineer
Dale Watson Producer
D. Watson Composer
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