Love Of The Common People/Hangin’ On is the second of three releases by Collector’s Choice which culls early albums by country music hall of famer Waylon Jennings and issues them two to a disc. Much of this material has been out of print for years so they make a fine addition to the collection of any early country music aficionado.
The first release in the series combined Jennings' first and fourth releases for the RCA label, Folk Country/Waylon Sings Ol’ Harlan, which showed him squarely in the hands of the label’s country corporate machine, having had little control over the recording process at the time. Despite such limitations, though, he ultimately would emerge as a country star.
This latest installment finds Jennings beginning to move toward what would become his country outlaw image. While RCA still dominated the overall process, he was exercising more control over the choice of material and even achieving some freedom in the studio.
Love Of The Common People was one of three albums he issued during 1967. The title track remains one of Jennings' finest performances as he sings about his country roots and the dreams of everyday people. A piano carries the song and the use of brass is creative. His version of “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” is pure country and was issued three years before Kenny Rogers and The First Edition made it a hit. Written by Mel Tillis about a British war bride who cheated on her disabled husband, the song took on new meaning in the United States as the Vietnam War progressed. Jennings wrote “Young Widow Brown” back in 1958 when he was working as a deejay and it finally made its way to one of his albums. Other included songs of note are “Money Cannot Make The Man,” “Destiny’s Child,” and “If The Shoe Fits.”
Hangin’ On is an overall better release as it is solid from beginning to end. He scored his biggest country hit to date with “The Chokin’” Kind,” a song he insisted on re-recording several days after the original take because he wasn't satisfied. The most interesting track on this LP is his cover of Roy Orbison's “The Crowd,” which shows his vocal versatility at this early point in his career. Jennings delivers a unique version on another cover, “Gentle On My Mind” while giving a fine performance on the early Roger Miller hit, “Lock, Stock, and Teardrops.”
Love Of The Common People/Hangin’ On will take you back to a simpler era in country music as the songs tell stories of love, loss, and struggle. Yet the times are changing as Vietnam, the Summer of Love, and the evolution of the musical landscape would help change America. Waylon Jennings was beginning to change with the times and these two albums are excellent statements of that process.