The Best of the Hightone Years

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
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"...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David McGee
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.
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.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/15/2002
  • Label: Hightone Records
  • UPC: 012928814126
  • Catalog Number: 8141
  • Sales rank: 54,012

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