While on the surface Selected Shorts is a very simple sort of folksie album, when the listener really begins to think about it, he realizes there are a lot of strange things going on. Not that any of the songs on Selected Shorts is begging to be thought about too seriously. With songs like "Hey Bartender," in which five-and-a-half minutes is taken up with Hicks' pleading to borrow the bartender's car while the Hot Licks editorialize between every one of Hicks' lines. . . How seriously can anyone take that? And is Hicks or his Hot Licks really asking us to?
Then there's "C'mon-A-My House," a bizarrely sinister song in which Hicks promises candy and Christmas trees if the listener (presumably a beautiful woman?) will, uh, come over to his house? "I'll give you everything," sings Hicks. Some listeners may have to repress a shudder.
And yet some songs, like "I'll See You In My Dreams," are almost sweet in their sentiments. Hicks' cobbled sound is part folk (think John Prine), part country (early Jimmy Buffett, a little bit of Willie Nelson--both of whom are guests on Selected Shorts), part blues, part swing, even with a dash of crooner. There's a lot in there to like, but the album as a whole is uneven, with "First I Lost My Marbles" as the prime candidate for worst song on the CD. Meanwhile, "Barstool Boogie" and "That Ain't Right" stand out as the kinds of songs you'd like to hear playing on a jukebox somewhere.
Most of the songs are catchy and upbeat, in the way that they can get stuck in your head, and of the 14 total tracks on the CD, you'd probably only want to suffer that fate with half of them. The remainders are either forgettable or unforgettable in the worst way.