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Boomkat Product Review:
The inlay booklet accompanying this release features some of the finest album sleeves in the history of recorded music. FACT. 1967's The Cold Hard Facts Of Life features a particularly striking cover-image: Porter gets home from work to discover his missus huddled up to some other feller on his own couch. Within a single frame, Wagoner has managed to distil the misery of a cuckolded husband. Magnificent, really. A similar air of melancholy hangs over other sleeves (with titles like 'Soul Of A Convict' and 'Confessions Of A Broken Man', you can imagine the down-trodden). Wagoner is clearly an extraordinary showman, his rhinestone-covered purple show suits confirm that much, but he's so much more than an image broker. Contrasting the extravagance and bombast is a haunting, often painfully sad approach to songwriting. It's all too easy to write-off the older end of mainstream country music of the '60s and '70s as kitsch or even a bit fluffy, but Wagoner wrings a great deal of pain and emotion out of his songs. While Porter is probably best known for his collaborations with Dolly Parton, this compilation places emphasis on the less sunny aspects of his music, and clearly beneath all the glitter and spangles Wagoner had a few run-ins with darkness, as translated artfully into the recordings here. This release comes barely a month after Wagoner's death, and serves as both a tribute and an introduction to the great man's work. Essential purchase.