One of country music’s consummate storytellers, the underrated Bobby Bare combines a Lefty-inspired drawl, a laid-back (damn near supine) delivery, and a sly sense of humor entirely his own. Tracing his ’60s-eracareer—when his forté was pathos rather than punch lines—this superb collection features crossover hits like “Detroit City” and “500 Miles From Home,” which spoke for thousands of homesick rural folk who’d migrated to cities looking for work. It also includes the ultimate cheating song, Tom T. Hall’s “(Margie’s at) the Lincoln Park Inn,” in which Bare conveys a wounded acceptance of sin worthy of Hawthorne. The next volume promises to highlight the ’70s, when Bare hit his stride with Shel Silverstein-penned tall tales and loopy originals like “Crushed Armadillo (I’m Just a Beer Drinking Christian).” Why Bare wasn’t invited to make a cameo in any of the “Smokey and the Bandit” flicks remains one of the decade’s big mysteries.

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