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Late-90s re-recordings of singer-songwriter's works
on May 23, 2003
You have to look pretty carefully on the back of this CD to find the minuscule, typed explanation: "Contains new recordings of Ed Bruce's greatest hits, recorded April 1997." After finding it, one might be inclined to think this was some quick knock-off to fill out a contractual obligation or cash in via a TV offer. But a quick spin through the tracks finds Bruce's voice in good shape, supported by well-crafted productions that are neither chintzy (okay, there are some less than stellar uses of keyboards), nor overblown with modern studio techniques.
The album opens with Bruce's largest success as a songwriter, "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys." Though known for its chart-topping version by Waylon & Willie, Bruce himself actually took it to the top-20 three years earlier. Bruce covers eleven additional tunes, seven from his own pen, including a nice rendition of "The Last Cowboy Song" (on which he is remindful of Waylon, himself).
As with most re-recordings, this is not the place to start your appreciation of the artist's catalog. The best place for that would be Varese's now out-of-print "The Best of Ed Bruce," featuring most of these songs in their original versions. On the one hand, Bruce's maturity and rethinking of his songs is worth hearing, on the other, recording many years worth of hits in a short series of sessions can't help but compress the range these songs originally presented. While these are anything but throwaways, they're also no substitute for the originals, leaving them mostly for Ed Bruce fans and completists.