Hard, Hard Traveling Man [Bear Family]
This four-CD box set picks up where Bear Family's previous seven-disc collection, Tombstone Every Mile, left off. While the previous set covered Dick Curless' career from 1948 with the Trailblazers though his solo and big hit years in 1970. Hard, Hard Traveling Man begins with his label deal for Capitol in the '70s and continues through to them dropping him in 1973. While Curless didn't score as big during those years, he still nailed a pair of Top 40 spots and recorded very powerful trucker and honky tonk anthems; the Maine native wasn't a bad ballad singer, either. A rugged traditionalist, Curless' brand of country faded by the time of the Outlaw movement, though he would have fit directly into their ranks. The big surprise here is the final disc, a collection of previously unissued sides that were demoed on acoustic guitar for the label and left in the vaults along with many alternate takes and mixes. It's a very intimate look at one of the more overlooked (and criminally so) figures in the golden era of the genre.