Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Floyd Tillman: Columbia Historic Edition [Columbia, 1984]
In the late '40s, the warped pitch of the singer-composer-guitarist who damn near invented both honky-tonk and cheating songs evoked a fiddle the way Robert Plant's shriek would evoke an electric guitar two decades later. Unfortunately, this collection includes only three of the seven classics Willie Nelson mentions in his brief liner notes (and also skips "It Makes No Difference Now") in favor of some fairly humdrum collectors' items. Nor is his deleted 1975 best-of a whole lot more complete. And yet both are fine albums. The two songs they share--"Slipping Around" and the painful "I Love You So Much It Hurts"--are as definitively country as anything you'll ever hear, and collectors' items like "Sentenced to a Life (Without You)" and "I'm Checkin' Out on You" shoulda been contenders. So until he gets what he deserves, this will do. A-