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Best of the Hightone Years
     

The Best of the Hightone Years

by Gary Stewart
 
In the mid-'70s, coal miner's son Gary Stewart jumped from playing piano in Charley Pride's band to leading his own -- a unit dedicated rockabilly's fervor and honky-tonk's moaning. However, Stewart found big-time success elusive. Come the '80s, he opted for a self-imposed sabbatical from the business, reemerging in 1988, not on RCA,

Overview

In the mid-'70s, coal miner's son Gary Stewart jumped from playing piano in Charley Pride's band to leading his own -- a unit dedicated rockabilly's fervor and honky-tonk's moaning. However, Stewart found big-time success elusive. Come the '80s, he opted for a self-imposed sabbatical from the business, reemerging in 1988, not on RCA, where he'd made his early name, but on the independent Hightone label, with his gritty baritone and his honky-tonk attitude intact. The budget-line Best of the Hightone Years spotlights cuts from his early efforts for the label, with drinkin' and cheatin' songs figuring prominently among the 13 tracks. "Make It a Double" and "An Empty Glass" are first-rate bluesy and besotted laments; Stewart's terse, Joe Ely-like reading of "Nothin' Cheap About a Cheap Affair" evokes a divided soul facing up to an illicit rendezvous; and "Bedroom Battleground" uses a driving rhythm, twangy guitar, and wailing pedal steel to underscore the singer's George Jonesian anguish over domestic disharmony. The spirited "Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor" takes Stewart back to southern rock roots, with a little Jerry Lee-style piano pounding adding a rambunctious touch to a propulsive outing. Whether upbeat or introspective, Gary Stewart delivers a strong dose of the real hard country thing, and then some. When listening to this music, however, a designated driver is a necessity.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
The late country singer and songwriter Gary Stewart may not have been a household name during his lifetime, but he did achieve some success, and indeed deserved far more than he got. His string of RCA recordings in the 1970s -- Out of Hand, Steppin' Out, Your Place or Mine, Little Junior, and Gary -- were brilliant, and juxtaposed the great honky tonk tradition against the emergent outlaw singers and songwriters, rockabilly, and even country boogie. His high tenor voice and signature song titles made him a choice for producers and authors alike. When outlaw music gave way to "urban cowboy," Stewart's star dimmed a bit, but he still managed to record a trio of albums for Hightone Records that, even though they lacked the production budget, still had the songs and performances. This 13-cut set compiles the best tracks from those three albums. Stewart updated his traditional "sound" very little, though he did rock it up a bit more with some great guitar work. This set, pared to the very finest form the Hightone years, includes the duet "An Empty Glass (That's the Way the Day Ends)," written and sung with Dean Dillon (the pair made a great record together called Brotherly Love), the underground country classic "Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor," the rollicking "Make It a Double," and the beautiful love song "Delia." While scoring a comp of the RCA hits is recommended before getting this one, this one should NOT be ignored.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/15/2002
Label:
Hightone Records
UPC:
0012928814126
catalogNumber:
8141
Rank:
53400

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Gary Stewart   Primary Artist
Tracy Nelson   Background Vocals
Warren Haynes   Slide Guitar
Fred Bogert   Keyboards
Harold Bradley   Bass Guitar
Buddy Cannon   Background Vocals
Chip Young   Acoustic Guitar
Paul Franklin   Steel Guitar
Sonny Garrish   Steel Guitar
Steve Hinson   Steel Guitar
Carla Hunter   Background Vocals
Jerry Kroon   Drums
Kim Morrison   Background Vocals
Larry Paxton   Bass
Hank Singer   Fiddle
Milton Sledge   Drums
Biff Watson   Acoustic Guitar
Reggie Young   Electric Guitar
Dino Zimmerman   Acoustic Guitar
Charlie McCoy   Harmonica
Dale Sellars   Electric Guitar
Kenny Bell   Acoustic Guitar
David Briggs   Piano,Musical Direction

Technical Credits

Gary Stewart   Composer
Fred Bogert   Engineer
Larry Cummings   Engineer
Roy Dea   Producer
Dean Dillon   Composer
Tom Hitchcock   Engineer
Glen Middleworth   Producer
Bill Harris   Engineer
Joe Funderburk   Engineer

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