20 Greatest Songs (Varese Sarabande)
If Don Gibson had never scored a hit record as an artist, he would still be a towering figure in country as the writer of "Oh Lonesome Me," "I Can't Stop Loving You" and many other classics.
But he could sing - and very well. In fact, the soft-spoken fellow with the quietly effective voice impressively racked up more than 80 hits between 1956 and 1980. This collection, focusing on his early-'70s recordings for Hickory Records, offers an interesting mix of hits from that era and re-recordings of his '50s successes like "Sweet Dreams" and "Blue Blue Day."
Although a superb writer, Don wasn't shy about cutting other people's songs. One of his biggest hits came with Gary Paxton's "Woman (Sensuous Woman)," which topped the charts in 1972 (and is included here). Other "outside" numbers on 20 Greatest Songs include Paxton's "One Day At A Time" and Eddy Raven's "Country Green" and "Touch Me In The Morning," all three of which Don took to the Top 10.
Don Gibson's simple - but never simplistic - songs are perfect examples of the art of country writing, whether telling a sad story or making a deeply felt statement of love. They've been re-recorded hundreds of times by a wide variety of artists, but it's still hard to top the easygoing warmth and sincerity of Don's versions.
-- Mark Marymont