In the mid-'80s the Nashville scene was at a low point until Dwight Yoakam helped usher in a new wave of country that was both traditionalist and progressive. Yoakam's allegiance to the classic Bakersfield sound of the '60s (Buck Owens, Merle Haggard) as well as his use of rockabilly and soul won him a wide audience. His good looks and dramatic persona also earned him an acting career, and he had major roles in numerous high-profile films, including PANIC ROOM and SLING BLADE.
Yoakam's third album finds him more daring in his incorporation of Creedence-style rock guitar fills--Pete Anderson, take a bow--and Tex-Mex polka into his Bakersfield stomp. Class resentment and murderous jealousy color this disc much more than its predecessors; "I Sang Dixie" is one of the all-time great I'm-just-a-country-boy-in-this-mean-ol'-city songs. And while Yoakam's version of "Home of the Blues" doesn't muster the drama of Johnny Cash's original, he'll forever deserve props for resurrecting the Buck Owens obscurity "Streets of Bakersfield"--not to mention duet partner Owens's then-dormant career. --Rickey Wright
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