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Album Review

Bobby Bare's 1978 Columbia album Bare reveals in spades that the performer still had plenty to offer. He utilizes the talents of an army of Nash Vegas guitar pickers here. Steel boss Ben Keith (one of Neil Young's Stray Gators on Harvest) is here, along with Johnny Gimble on fiddle, Bobby Emmons on piano, and Larrie Londin and Buddy Harman on skins, as well as a host of backing vocalists, including Shel Silverstein and Willie Nelson. There are also a couple of folks with the names Waylon Jennings and Chet Atkins who fell by the studio to help on a couple tracks. But it isn't the players who made the record; it's Bare's inspirational performance on no less than eight songs by Silverstein, Larry Wilkerson's "Finger on the Button," and a better version of the "The Gambler" than Kenny Rogers could have ever dreamed of cutting. Why Bare didn't strike pay dirt with his version is beyond the point of reason, because in the grain of his voice it feels like a story being told almost in the present tense, and accurate as a reading by someone who believes he has received life-saving advice from a ghost. "Yard Full of Rusty Cars" is one of Silverstein's better songs, and contains the proverb "Show me a man with a yard full of rusty cars/And I'll show you a man with a 'frigerator full of beer that's nice and cold." Ditto the tracks such as "Too Many Nights Alone," "This Guitar Is for Sale," and "Sing for the Song." Bare's command of the humorous line equals Roger Miller's, his depth of emotion goes into the same well that Willie Nelson's does (albeit in a baritone fashion), and he reveals a gift for turning a phrase so it remains memorable in the mind of the listener. His duet with Jennings on "This Guitar Is for Sale" is one of the stellar broken ballads of Bare's career, reflecting on the shattered fortunes and wasted years in the life of a singer/songwriter. Why hasn't Sony/Legacy reissued this fine platter? Sometimes life just ain't fair.


Born: 07 April 1935 in Ironton, OH

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Bobby Bare's story is nearly as fascinating as his music. Bare's mother died when he was five. His father couldn't earn enough money to feed his children, forcing the family to split up. Bare was working on a farm by the time he was 15 years old, later working in factories and selling ice cream to support himself. Building his first guitar, he began playing music in his late teens, performing with a local Ohio band in Springfield. In the late '50s, he moved out to Los Angeles. Bare's first appearance...
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Bare, Bobby Bare
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