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Big Bad John & Other Hits

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Album Review

This 26-song single disc collection covers the highlights of Jimmy Dean's 1961-1962 recordings for Columbia Records; not everything, but most everything that counts. The sheer diversity of material demonstrates some of the problems that Dean had finding and following up on hits; he was a passable singer and likable personality, but he would follow up a pop/rock piece like "Little Black Book" with a blues piece such as "Gonna Raise a Ruckus Tonight." But apart from the hokiest of these tracks ("A Day That Changed the World"), it all holds up, including the title track; the freewheeling "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette"; the weirdly topical "Dear Ivan"; his cover of Merle Travis' "Sixteen Tons"; the sentimental father-to-daughter soliloquy "To a Sleeping Beauty"; the rough-hewn "Big Bad John" follow-up "The Cajun Queen"; the delightful sequel to both songs, "Little Bitty Big John"; "P.T. 109," a tribute to John Kennedy's World War II exploits written in the same vein as Johnny Horton's "Sink the Bismarck"; the wryly cynical "Walk on Boy"; the workers' anthem "Steel Men"; the pop/rock ballad "Little Black Book"; the old Texas blues "Gonna Raise a Ruckus Tonight"; the strange D-day remembrance "A Day That Changed the World"; the breezily folky "Gotta Travel On"; the sad dog (and war) song "Oklahoma Bill"; the effective sub-Elvis "Night Train to Memphis"; and two previously unissued numbers, the slow blues "Lonesome Road" and the swamp ballad "Cajun Joe."

Biography

Born: August 10, 1928 in Plainview, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The average man on the street would most likely recognize Jimmy Dean from the line of smoked sausage that bears his name, but prior to entering the pork products business, Dean was a successful television personality and a country hitmaker noted for his half-spoken narrative songs. Dean was born near Plainview, TX in 1928 and grew up poor, often working on farms as a boy to help make ends meet. His mother taught him piano starting at age ten, and he went on to pick up guitar, harmonica, and accordion....
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Big Bad John & Other Hits, Jimmy Dean
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