Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Have you ever had a dream that you were in honky tonk heaven? It was not a dream, you were probably listening to the great Charley Crockett. A true student of the game, Charley and his fine, fine band cook up some seriously authentic and high quality honky tonk and foot stompin’ music. Charley makes music that is traditional, but updated with today’s playing and technology.
This collection is made up of 16 songs (mostly covers), covering artists such as Hank Williams (The First), Ernest Tubbs, Roy Acuff, Tanya Tucker, and songwriter Leon Payne, among others. This album is a trip back in time when artists went from town to town to build up a fan base. Charley is cut from the same cloth as the troubadours that came before him. He IS the genuine article. Charley plays these songs with respect to the original, but he still puts his own twist on it.
Mr. Crockett, who is a direct descendant of Davey Crockett, has one of those million dollar voices. Although he is singing honky tonk, Charley’s voice is versatile enough that he could sing standards with the likes of Martin, Sinatra, and Cole. I feel very fortunate that Charley chose to pick classic country as his genre of choice.
Ramblin’ Man (Track 6), which happens to be one of my favorite Hank songs, is performed with reverence by Charley and the band. The vocals are truly praise worthy. Smooth like velvet, Mr. Crockett! Listening to this puts me right in a honky tonk somewhere in West Texas with a shot of whiskey and a beer. As I look down the bar, I see a row of cowboy hats in a smoke filled room with Charley crooning away on the jukebox.
Speaking of favorite Hank songs, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Lost Highway (Track 9). Even though this song was written by famed songwriter Leon Payne, it is mostly considered a Hank tune. Charley handles this song with kid gloves, arranging it in a very traditional style. He does an expert job covering this classic and adheres to the principle, if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Charley doesn’t just tackle honky tonk, he bangs out an old rock and roll number by Webb Pierce entitled I Ain’t Never (Track 8). This song jettisons me back to the late 1950’s, driving my Chevy down a dark road at night, while this song is blasting from my AM radio. I am lost, but I don’t care. I have Charley to keep me company.
If you want to get in on the ground floor of an artist that is going up to the penthouse, this is your chance. Charley Crockett has the tangibles: great voice, great stage presence, and a great band. He also has the intangibles: charisma, charisma, charisma. Pack your bags because Charley Crockett is going places.