The Soul & The Edge: The Best Of Johnny Paycheck (Epic/Legacy)

Johnny Paycheck's rowdy rebel persona isn't some clever invention; he's been raising hell onstage -- and off -- for years. When his peers were just hinting at their conflicts with authority, Johnny was actually doing jail time and confronting his personal demons.

Despite -- or perhaps because of -- his traumas, Johnny is one of the best singers in country music. Although best known for the novelty hit "Take This Job And Shove It," he was also good with dramatic ballads and edgy cheatin' songs, and could take an old R&B hit like "She's All I Got" and turn it into a rural classic.

Those two hits and plenty of others are featured on The Soul & The Edge, including his '70s Top 10s "Someone To Give My Love To," "Slide Off Of Your Satin Sheets" and "I'm The Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)." This 23-track collection also makes room for left-of-center material like the cautionary "(Stay Away From) The Cocaine Train" and the bitter "Me And The I.R.S."

Whatever he sings, Johnny is never less than convincing. That honest forcefulness may be too strong for the modern country scene, but anyone who enjoys a more traditional approach will appreciate this look at a sometimes troubled, but deeply talented, singer.

-- Mark Marymont

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