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Dick Curless

The Drag 'Em Off the Interstate, Sock It to 'Em Hits of Dick Curless – 1998 (Razor & Tie)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Dick Curless

Believe it or not, Dick Curless' great trucker anthems of the Sixties and Seventies have been completely unavailable on CD here; the only alternative being Bear Family's comprehensive multi-disc package; a bit much to expect from the neophyte.

Razor & Tie has filled a yawning gap in the availability of great country music and done fans of the genre a service. Curless, who was based in Maine for most of his career and died in 1995, racked up 11 top 40 hits on the country charts between 1965 and 1972. This generous 21-track collection compiles 10 of them (though one - "I Ain't Got Nobody" - is heard in its original 1957 Event version, 11 years before the hit version was recorded for Tower), as well as some near-misses and two tracks from his classic 1973 live album, "Live at the Wheeling Truck Drivers Jamboree."

Best known today for 1965's "A Tombstone Every Mile," Curless was a tremendously versatile singer (imagine Johnny Cash with Merle Haggard's control and range) who was equally at home with blues ("Evil-Hearted Me"), as well as traditional ("Nine Pound Hammer"), near-rockabilly ("Travelin' Man"), and downright pop material (the Johnny Horton-esque "The Baron"), though without a doubt was most loved for his classic odes to "big and burly" truckers. This is one of the most welcome reissues of the year. A big thumbs up.