Dwight Yoakam – 21st Century Hits
Real country music still exists. But outside of the few living legends, there aren’t too many purveyors of the real thing on the scene these days. And when they do come along, they get branded as too country and run out of Nashville. Thankfully, Dwight Yoakam has kept the flame burning since his arrival in the mid ’80s.
Yoakam’s twang comes naturally, born out of Kentucky roots. But he was slapped with the too country label when he first hit Nashville in the ’80s. He proved naysayers wrong when his debut, ’86’s Guitars Cadillacs Etc. went double platinum. His next two, ’87’s Hillbilly Deluxe and 88’s Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room went to number one on the country charts. Since then Yoakam has racked up a string of hits on 15 studio albums with multi-platinum sales totaling over 25 million records.
In September, New West released this compilation spanning 12 years of Yoakam. His twangy tearjerker collaboration with Michelle Branch on “Long Goodbye” is a previously unreleased track with lyrics that bore straight to the heart of old school country but with a sound that owes a debt to Tom Petty.
His original, “Intentional Heartache,” is a rollicking twangfest trucking saga from ’05’s Blame The Vain with Yoakam yelling a amphetamine-fueled rant over a galloping overland backbeat.
Even when it ain’t country, Yoakam makes it so. His cover of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” from the soundtrack of the ’06 film The Break Up rocks as hard as Freddie Mercury’s original, but Yoakam puts his own stamp on it with a vocal that blends a hillbilly hiccup and a yodel with the hint of a sob.
Yoakam pays homage to his hero Buck Owens with three cuts from ’07’s Dwight Sings Buck. Yoakam’s version of “Close Up The Honky-Tonks” is a bit choppier than Buck’s, underscored with a bongo backbeat, weepy pedal steel and Jimmy Smith style organ, but as soon as Yoakam ‘s voice cuts in, its pure Bakersfield. Owens recorded “Act Naturally” twice, first as a solo number one hit in 63 and as a duet with Ringo Starr in ’89. Yoakam’s version is a clone of the original solo Owens track. “My Heart Skips A Beat” follows Owen’s original closely as well, but with Yoakam reprising his hiccup/sob thang once again.
Fans will always think of stuff that could or should have been added, but this collection is just enough of a retrospective to prod them into re-exploring his back catalog and hopefully get the artist stirred up enough by fan reaction to give them some new stuff to twang along with.