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The Best of Lefty Frizzell

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Album Review

Rhino's 18-track compilation The Best of Lefty Frizzell set the gold standard for Frizzell collections upon its release in 1991 and remains an excellent, succinct summary of his prime. It has since been surpassed in terms of comprehensiveness by Columbia/Legacy's 1997 double-disc set Look What Thoughts Will Do, which contained 34 songs, including every one that's on this disc, so the serious listener may prefer that to this relatively shorter collection, simply because it digs deeper into one of the richest catalogs in country music. Nevertheless, the Rhino disc may be a more effective introduction for neophytes, since it boils down his catalog to the 18 essentials, offering ample proof of Frizzell's genius as a songwriter and singer, including such classics as "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time," "Look What Thoughts Will Do," "Always Late (With Your Kisses)," "The Long Black Veil," and "Saginaw, Michigan." Frizzell has often been imitated as a singer but never quite duplicated, and the music here is at the heart of his legend. It's necessary for any country collection.


Born: 31 March 1928 in Corsicana, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Lefty Frizzell was the definitive honky tonk singer, the vocalist that set the style for generations of vocalists that followed him. Frizzell smoothed out the rough edges of honky tonk by singing longer, flowing phrases -- essentially, he made honky tonk more acceptable for the mainstream without losing its gritty, bar-room roots. In the process, he changed the way country vocalists sang forever. From George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson to George Strait, John Anderson, Randy Travis, and...
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