Faren Young ‘Wine Me Up - The Best Of The Mercury Years’ - Humphead

         This is a two CD compilation of Young’s material recorded for the Mercury label after having success with Capitol Records. These songs are a mix of honky tonk and a more cosmopolitan sound that includes such songs as the title track and Walk Tall (Walk Straight), a song perhaps better knowover here for the 1964 version by Val Doonican. These songs were recorded between 1962 and !979. From the latter year comes I Guess I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night a song co-written by Young that may be a country cousin of the Electric Prunes similar titled song - but without the psychedelics. It is one of his smoother songs with strings well to the fore. The collection also includes three of the songs he recorded as duets with Margie Singleton. These have a period charm but it is in fact the harder material he made in his fifteen year stay with Mercury that shows he could still bring the fiddle and steel to thye mix with the material he recorded in that period.
         City Lights, Unmitigated Gall, Occasional Wife, Goin’ Steady or If I Ever Fall In Love (With A Honky Tonk) all offer a sound that is right up there alongside some of his more determined country contemporaries of that era. They prove he hadn’t lost faith with the music that originally inspired him. With 50 songs on two CDs there is much to admire here. It updates a Westside compilation covering the same timescale from 2002 that had half the songs here, but a more attractive cover.
         Throughout Young displays his vocal talent and why he is a respected performer and occasional songwriter. Much of the writing on the double album comes from such notable writing talents as Merle Kilgore, Mel Tillis, Tom T. Hall. Dallas Frazier, Shel Silverstein with Kris Kristofferson and Bill Anderson, to name a few. The playing was also done by the hottest session players of the day and still stands up. Given that it was all recorded back in the day it has a sound encapsulated by the predominant sounds emanating from the studios of Music City back then. But, as mentioned, often more die-hard that a lot of what his associates were recording then.
         This is a collection of songs that won’t fail to be appreciated by anyone who listens to and likes country music that, for the most part, lived up to its genre classification. Good value and good music that will remain forever Faron Young.