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Look What Thoughts Will Do
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2001
I've only recently been listening seriously to country music, so I actually came to this collection backwards, by hearing fine covers of Frizzell tunes (e.g. Iris DeMent's lovely take on "Mom and Dad's Waltz" on her _My Life_). It's one of Columbia's most impressive compilation efforts, & should be enough to turn the head of anyone previously unfamiliar with Frizzell's music. (Columbia has not always been so good about reissues and compilations; they have, for instance, often habitually substituted alternate takes for the originals, a practice that damages their _Essential Bob Wills_ collection & has also on occasion affected albums by Miles Davis, Bill Monroe, Mingus and Ellington. Mercifully they haven't messed around with the music here.) The focus here is mostly on Lefty's early 1950s sides, recorded before the familiar twin devils struck: too much fame too fast, followed by the inevitable bewildering loss of popularity as the decade came to an end and traditional country music lost ground to rock (you can hear him make attempts to modernize his sound in reaction in the last few tracks here--one even has a saxophone solo).
Frizzell's music is most remarkable for two things: first, his lovely voice, its gentle bends and slurs remarkably expressive, almost mesmerizing. It's an unusually intimate sound--singing that seems always to be verging on speech--and it gives many of the songs the flavour of an internal monologue or a confession. The number of singers who copied Frizzell's approach must be countless. Secondly, his abilities as a writer and as an interpreter are second to none, encompassing everything from the bright "If You've Got the Money..." to the painful "Always Late (With Your Kisses)" to the genuinely eerie "The Long Black Veil". The variety here is impressive, as is his ability to handle all the material; a tune like "Mom and Dad's Waltz", which one might expect to be bathetic, turns out to be genuinely moving & emotionally fraught.
There's much more that could be said about this compilation, but I'll leave it there. One of the other reviewers of this set remarks on its rather ungenerous playing time--each disc has about 45 minutes of material. True, yet I don't feel especially irritated by this, given how well-chosen the selection is--there's no filler here--and that the price is modest (the equivalent of purchasing one-and-a-half CDs).
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2002
I don't understand the bad reviews on this CD. The sound is very good, and it represents every major hit Lefty ever had. This is honky tonk music at its best. My favorites: I Want To Be With You Always, Always Late, Mom and Dad's Waltz, and Cigarettes and Coffee Blues. His major period from 1950-55 is well represented with every hit and a scattering of good hits from 1955-65. The only omission I wish was on here is "My Baby's Just Like Money, which was the flip side to I Want To Be With You Always. 34 hits,nicely packaged with dates etc. and a wonderful documentation of one of the giants of the 20th Century. It's the only Lefty Frizell CD you' d need unless you're a fanatic.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Lefty is one of the great honky tonkers and this set showcases his talents. If you like his music, this is the set to buy. All the major hits and most of his standards are presented in this two CD set. Sound quality is excellent throughout, crisp and clean. It is great fun to put this on, listen and remember those days when this music was not mainstream and did not try to be.

Long Black Viel was taken to the top by others but no one sings it like this. This is a must have set for your collection.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2006
There's noone like Lefty. Never was, never will be. Fortunately, here's a 2 CD collection covering the biggest of Lefty's Hits, in their original form. All of his biggest numbers are here, and there's quite a few less-known songs here, as well. All of them are signature Lefty and they're all sure to please. No real complaints, although a better set of liner notes would be appreciated; but for the affordability of this set, I really cannot complain. Well worth your money.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2005
I was young when Lefty Frizzell was at his best but I had an older brother who was in a country-rock band and he thought Lefty was a great talent for both his song writing and performing. Now that I am old enough to appreciate honky tonk music I understand that my brother was right. This CD surpassed my expectations and I would recommend it to anyone who likes original country music.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 1999
Everyone talks about Hank, but, after listenting to this collection of songs you have to admit that Lefty was right up there with ole Hank. His smooth delivery and exceptional song writing skills are on full display in this album. From "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time" to the haunting "Long Black Veil" his singing talent is fully exposed. A true American original.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This 34-track compilation represents some of the best offerings of this 1982 inductee into the Country Music Hall Of Fame (seven years after his death at age 47 on July 19, 1975). It commences with his first charted single for Columbia from late 1950 - If You've Got The Money Honey I've Got The Time b/w I Love You A Thousand Ways. And what a debut! Both sides reached # 1 and remained there for 3 weeks each, the A-side spending 22 weeks on the charts and the flipside 32 weeks. Many an artist would collapse under the pressure of being asked to follow such an auspicious introduction, but Lefty (born William Orville Frizzell on March 31, 1928 in Corsicana, Texas) was equal to the task. His next hit was also double-sided, with the title track Look What Thoughts Will Do peaking at # 4 in April 1951 and the flipside, Shine, Shave, Shower (It's Saturday) topping out at # 7.

Only the A-side of his next release charted, but that was more than made up for by the fact that I Want To Be With You Always made it to # 1 in June 1951 and stayed there for ELEVEN weeks and became a crossover hit by going to # 29 pop(the flipside, My Baby Is Just Like Money, is not included). Then came his third # 1 - Always Late (With Your Kisses) which surpassed his previous hit by remaining at the top for TWELVE weeks. The B-side - Mom And Dad's Waltz - didn't fare too badly either, getting to # 2 where it remained for eight weeks.

Although he would not get another # 1 until 1964 {the amusing Saginaw, Michigan which also made the pop charts at # 85), he just kept racking up the hits until late 1954 when a combination of personal problems and the advent of R&R bumped him from the charts until late 1958 when the Marty Robbins-penned tune Cigarettes And Coffee Blues (# 13) brought him back into the limelight. All this is detailed in the six pages of liner notes written by Patrick Carr, editor of The Illustrated History Of Country Music.

If there's a fault with this CD it's the inclusion of tracks 4, 6, 12, 17 on disc one and 2, 4, 8 on disc 2, all of which were previously unreleased in the United States. Some may regard this as excessive in that, in doing so, they omitted 11 bona-fide hits with Columbia, including his last in 1972, You, Babe which reached # 59 that September.

Lefty, after leaving Columbia in 1972, would add another six hit singles for ABC, the last - ironically entitled Falling - peaking at # 50 at the time of his sudden death from a stroke.

A discography of the contents is included with the liner notes (but no chart details) and there are several more nice photos of Lefty, whose brothers David and Allen also made their marks in Country music. My particular favourite is track 13 on disc 1, Travellin' Blues, and when you hear this you will readily discover the influence of the great Jimmie Rodgers.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2000
Once again, I have to complain about the way American record companies treat their material. Neither disc in this set runs full length with both clocking at less than 50 minutes. This could've either have been reduced down to one CD (as the RCA essential series) or expanded with lesser known (but still worthy) cuts such as "Out of You", "There's No Food In This House" & "Watermelon Time In Georgia". When Bear Family can come up with a 12 disc set that all CD's run full-length, it's pitiful that the best Sony can do for Lefty is a two CD set with neither CD running full length.
What's here is presented in a clean, re-mastered version. It does serve as a decent sampler and/or intro to one of the greats of country music, but casual fans aren't going to want to pay the price for a two CD set to get introduced to his music and serious fans will have most of this already which essentially leaves "Essential" without an audience.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2009
Not growing up in the South, I only heard two things about country music as a kid, either "I hate it" or "I hate everything but Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson." Now, I love Johnny and Willie, but there's a heck of a lot of other great country singers, and Lefty is one of the best. He recorded far too much good stuff for a single disc best of, so this box set is a must.

The easiest way to explain Lefty Frizell is that he's got both the brilliant songwriting of Hank Williams and the gorgeous voice of George Jones. His songs aren't quite as heartbreaking as Williams' (my favorite country singer), but they're still wonderful.

The first disc consists of his 50s material which sounds a lot like Williams and the early George Jones you can find on his "Cup of Loneliness" box set. This is my favorite kind of country and sounds very raw and sad, even in upbeat songs. Johnny Cash's 50s material isn't really in this vein because he was pushed in a rockabilly direction by Sun Records, and Cash peaks with the late 60s prison albums anyway.

The second disc covers late 50s and 60s material and sounds a bit smoother, but it's hardly the kind of country-pop I hate. "Long Black Veil", which I had known for a long time from Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, was first recorded by Lefty and, whichever version you hear, is one of the best country songs of all time.

If you like this set and want more, there's another disc called "That's The Way Love Goes" that covers songs produced after this set ends. Unfortunately it's out of print, but hopefully it'll be reissued, or something similar will come out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2005
Apart from one song about his Ma and Pa,the double C.D.is a fine example of 1950's country music, my favourite being "Run Em'Off"!A must buy!'Rockin'Johnny.
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