Rules Of Life No 1: never judge an album by its liner photographs. There’s a picture of Tom T Hall in this package which shows him standing in a library in a bow-tie, big-toothed cheesy grin, tux and smartly combed silvery hair. “Republican fund-raising dinner” may be your first thought. Listen to the songs and you quickly realise that not only is it probably Tom’s own library, but that he’s almost certainly read all of the books.
“Listen” is the operative word. Put these twofers on in the background and all you will hear is fairly standard-issue Nashville country music; well played, for sure, but nothing revolutionary in the instrumentation or composition. Open your ears to the words, however, and you can immediately understand why Hall was nicknamed “Storyteller”, for these are tales of, from, and for the many peoples of the USA. He does politics (The Monkey That Became President), death (Turn It On…) and random encounters (Old Dogs, Children & Watermelon Wine). He even does She Gave Her Heart To Jethro, a song in the same vein as Kenny Rodgers’ Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town, but without the wince factor. In short, a somewhat overlooked genius.