Album Review: Roy Clark - “Greatest Hits”

Varèse Sarabande/Craft Recordings brings expanded edition of Hee Haw star’s beloved hits back to print in CD, Digital and Vinyl formats.

Originally released 25 years ago, Roy Clark’s Greatest Hits (buy here) collection was an eye-opening (or should I say ear-opening) experience for me as I’d mainly known Roy Clark as the mugging star of Hee Haw and for his stalwart instrumental playing than his own songs. But after listening to this collection of 18 classics from Roy Clark’s 40 year career, it is easy to see that he may have been under appreciated for both vocals and song selection during his career for Dot (later merged into ABC, then MCA) and Capitol Records.

Spanning the peak 10 years of Roy’s hit making years, the collection holds all of Clark’s biggest hits, from 1963’s Bill Anderson-penned “Tips Of My Fingers” to the closing “Chain Gang Of Love” from 1979 (there was a six year gap between “Fingers” and Roy’s true breakout hit “Yesterday, When I Was Young,” which was his only Top 20 Billboard Pop too.

Vocally, there’s hints of Glen Campbell throughout and particularly George “Thank God and Greyhound” from 1970. That song, along with “I Never Picked Cotton” were released in 1970. “Magnificent Sanctuary Band” is a really interesting song on this collection as the musical arrangement on this song certainly sounds out of place for country music or even pop music from that era (the vocals are definitely from the era). It has a groove and is a Gospel song that really should be a gospel standard and it stands out in every way on this collection. Another one that stands out is “The Lawrence Welk - Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka,” a song that somehow made it to the Top 10 of the Billboard country charts in 1972. That has to be some sort of record for longest, strangest titled single to ever chart that high (and has the same Polka melody as “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”).

Roy’s career would continue to fly high with “Come Live With Me,” the Felice & Boudleaux Bryant-penned classic was Clark’s only #1 single (see, stars can have long careers without a lot of #1 hits) and the same album (also titled “Come Live With Me”) featured “Somewhere Between Love And Tomorrow” his pretty, melodic love song which came close to #1 with a #2 finish (and actually outpaced “Come Live With Me” on the Hot 100, the last time he would appear on that chart). Other standouts on the record include “Honeymoon Feelin’,” “If I Had To Do It Allover Again” “Think Summer” and the Top 30 instrumental hit “Riders In The Sky.”

While I wasn’t even alive for all but one hit on this record (and why I only remembered him for Hee Haw), Roy Clark’s Greatest Hits package from Varèse Sarabande/Craft Recordings is an eye-opening experience for me and introduced a truly unique artist to me and now, because of it, I will be searching out his other records to hear more of his catalog. I was inspired by his musicality, interesting production choices (with producers Joe Allison and Jim Fogelsong). The collection presented here (18 songs long) with extensive liner notes by Lawrence Zwisohn, expands on the 1995 release with four more tracks added to give old fans and new fans alike a new reason to pick up a copy of this stellar recorded package.

Roy Clark Greatest Hits Tracklist

  1. Tips Of My Fingers
  2. Yesterday, When I Was Young
  3. Right Or Left At Oak Street
  4. Then She's A Lover
  5. I Never Picked Cotton
  6. Thank God and Greyhound
  7. Magnificent Sanctuary Band
  8. The Lawrence Welk - Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka
  9. Come Live With Me
  10. Riders In The Sky
  11. Somewhere Between Love And Tomorrow
  12. Honeymoon Feelin'
  13. The Great Divide
  14. Heart To Heart
  15. If I Had To Do It All Over Again
  16. Think Summer
  17. I Have A Dream, I Have A Dream
  18. Chain Gang Of Love

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