Personnel: Bobby Bare (guitar); Chip Young, John Christopher, Dave Kirby, Lloyd Green, Red Lane, Bill Rice, Bobby Thompson (guitar); Buddy Emmons (steel guitar, dobro); Tommy Williams (fiddle); Shel Silverstein (harmonica); Ron Oates, Bobby Wood (piano); Larrie Londin, Jerry Carrigan (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Warren Barnett.
Liner Note Author: Alvin Lucia.
Recording information: RCA Victor's "Nashville Sound" Studio, Nashville, TN (1974-1976).
Omni's 2012 Bobby Bare two-fer pairs the 1975 LP Hard Time Hungrys and the 1976 set The Winner and Other Losers, the latter of which has never seen CD release prior to this. Hard Time Hungrys is one of Bare's key '70s albums: an ambitious set of songs written by Shel Silverstein, all concerning the plight of the working class. An admirable record somewhat undone by the interspersing of spoken word interviews between songs, the record picks up the thread from 1973's Lullabys, Legends and Lies -- also written by Silverstein -- and starts to ratchet up the country influence, feeling a little bit leaner and harder, which is appropriate for the album's subjects. The Winner and Other Losers isn't strictly conceptual but it expands on this loose-legged blend of hard country and storytelling folk, emphasizing the good humor of Silverstein and Bare. Some of this veers pretty close to novelty, particularly on its best-known song, "Dropkick Me, Jesus," but the casual swagger of the arrangements and Bare's modulated growl keep the music grounded and, even if it doesn't have the thematic heft of Hard Time Hungrys, song for song The Winner and Other Losers winds up resonating longer because it keeps the focus strictly on the music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine