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The Best of Tommy Overstreet

Tommy Overstreet

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Album Review

Tommy Overstreet is not especially well-remembered — as of this writing, none of his original recordings for ABC and Dot were in print — but during the '70s, he had a steady string of hits for Dot and ABC, including 11 country Top Ten singles. All of those songs are here, along with five other smaller hits, on Varese's comprehensive 1998 summary, The Very Best of Tommy Overstreet. Overstreet's baritone, as well as his selection of material, was reminiscent of Don Williams. Occasionally, he sounded strained where Williams let the words roll easy, but he had a similar laid-back Western warmth and walked a similar musical path; where a traditional country sound was given pop overtones in the song selection and the lush production, heavy on layers of vocals and guitars. Although he had no classics, he did have a good ear for songs, often relying on tunes written by his producer Ricci Mareno, often with the assistance of either Jerry W. Gillespie and Charlie Black. They were good genre numbers — as Overstreet puts it in Laurence Zwisohn's liner notes, songs about "the heartaches, the heartbreaks, the success, the failure, the booze, the blues" — and they're delivered in a commercial, straightforward manner and sung with conviction by Overstreet. It's generic music, but in the best possible sense; it's good mainstream '70s country, not gutsy enough for outlaw, but too country to be called countrypolitain, and it's all the better for it.

Biography

Born: 10 September 1937 in Oklahoma City, OK

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Tommy Overstreet was a countrypolitan-styled singer who achieved his greatest success in the early '70s, although he probably gained his most significant exposure as a frequent guest on the program Hee Haw. He was born on September 10, 1937, in Oklahoma City, and an early interest in music was encouraged by his cousin Gene Austin, a singer who had garnered some fame in the 1920 with records like "My Blue Heaven" and "Ramona." In his teens, he began performing pop music on radio stations in the Houston,...
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