Picks and Pans Review: Billy Joe Royal

updated 09/21/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/21/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Billy Joe Royal

He's 50 and still known mainly, if at all, for his 1965 hit "Down in the Boondocks." So it makes sense for Royal to assume a role of archivist, preserving and refreshing some of the standards of country music.

In his first album since 1990, Royal applies his smooth, resonant vocal style to such tunes as the memorably melancholic "I'm Sony," which Brenda Lee has, through no fault of her own, monopolized since her 1960 hit. Nor can there ever be too many versions of Willie Nelson's "Funny How Time Slips Away." Even the less-familiar tracks are enjoyable. Producer Rick Hall could have enlivened things by finding a woman singer for Royal to duet with (Lee herself wouldn't have been a had idea). But the backup band cooks just enough to help Royal give credit where it's due, a pastime he seems well suited for. (Atlantic)

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