(5-CD LP-sized boxed set with 108-page hardcover book, 165 tracks. Playing time: 415:49) Hot licks, big hits, and truckers' favorites! The very best recordings from a giant of the Bakersfield scene... a scene that gave us Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, and inspired Dwight Yoakam and many others. Bob Dylan called Red Simpson ''the forgotten man of Bakersfield.'' Merle and Buck recorded over 40 of Red Simpson's songs!
The set includes 26 previously unissued songs. Nearly all of the other recordings are previously unissued on CD. Most have been unavailable since the '70s and '80s!
Red Simpson made a name for himself in country music with a string of blacktop anthems like Roll Truck Roll, The Highway Patrol, Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves, Country Western Truck Drivin' Singer, Awful Lot To Learn About Truck Drivin', and Truck Driver's Heaven. He popularized the romanticized image of the trucker as a modern-day cowboy of the open road. But there was much more to Red Simpson. Raised in Bakersfield, California, Red was at the center of the vibrant honky tonk scene that spawned Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. A multi-instrumentalist who composed hundreds of songs, Red earned a reputation as one of the West Coast's most respected songwriters. Buck 'n' Merle recorded more than 40 of Simpson's songs, including Top 10 hits like Gonna Have Love, Sam's Place and Kansas City Song, Close Up The Honky Tonks, and You Don't Have Very Far To Go.
This set includes all of Red Simpson's recordings from 1957 until the year he retired from touring, 1984. All the songs on his seven Capitol LPs are here, together with his singles for Capitol, Portland, and independent labels. All of his hit singles are here, as are unreleased Capitol masters, 18 previously unissued demo recordings, Red's own versions of hits he wrote for Buck Owens, and dozens of songs that appear on CD for the first time. This set also contains a large format hardcover book that features a complete discography, many unseen photos, and a detailed biography by Scott B. Bomar documenting the colorful and sometimes volatile career of the truck music poet.
If you like underdog stories and 18-wheelers, make room in your life for this boxed set. In the Bakersfield hard-country scene of the 1960s Buck Owens was clearly the boss: bandleader, singer, songwriter, publisher, celebrity. But in the circle of creativity around him there was Red Simpson, a singer-songwriter who took his own talent much less seriously, and almost accidentally ended up as one of the four giants of truck-driving music. (The others were Dave Dudley, Red Sovine and Dick Curless, none of whom had Mr. Simpson's diffident charm or heartbreaking ballad voice.) At the instigation of the producer Ken Nelson, he pumped out hauling-related LPs for Capitol through the 1960s and '70s, including a genuinely tear-inducing Christmas album and a collection of tracks from the often misunderstood point of view of the highway patrolman. All that is here: 165 songs, 26 of them previously unissued, and a 108-page biography by Scott B. Bomar, drawing on interviews with Mr. Simpson - who still lives in Bakersfield - and others, charting power relationships and giving a second-tier man his due. --Ben Ratliff, NY Times, 11/19/12