The version of the album discussed here, features in BGO Records‘ reissue of four Bobby Bare albums spread across two discs. The original artwork is featured in the top right-hand square, with further images a fixture of the booklet. All tracks have been digitally remastered. Other albums in the set include The English Country Side, I Hate Goodbyes / Ride Me Down Easy and Cowboys And Daddys.
(Margie’s At) The Lincoln Park Inn’ And Other Controversial Country Songs was first released in 1969 on the RCA Victor label. It was predominantly produced by Chet Atkins.
Bare, even at his most commercial, had the ability to cut straight to the point with his music. This album demonstrates that knack, and then some; Its point is to showcase compositions that highlight social issues. In 1968 this would have been controversial, and only an artist such as Bare could create an album of songs that purposely highlight racism, war, homelessness, unfaithfulness, deception, domestic abuse and other subjects.
While it might seem as though an album like this couldn’t have the same impact in 2023, I can’t help but disagree. As I type this, Bare is singing Big Ben Colson, the story of a young woman who is taken advantage of by a “wealthy gentleman”, and has a child by him. She is then abandoned by the said gentleman. Bare then makes it clear the young woman has done no wrong, and just “loved the wrong man”. One would expect a song like this to have a dated vibe to its message, but it still feels all too relevant in this day and age. Many of these songs, although written decades ago, still have a degree of truth in their messages.
The most well-known of these songs, the Mel Tillis song Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town, is reinvented to accentuate the lyrics. With sweeping strings and gentle guitar licks, it is about as far removed from Kenny Rogers’ famous version as you can get. It does what Bare set out to do, making the listener pay attention to the story within the song. This writer believes that is the key to this album; The arrangements are plentiful but the vocals are clearly heard throughout.
Bare has cleverly created a piece of work that feels like an early form of a concept album, where everything is connected in some way. While most of these songs were recorded elsewhere, Bare makes them his own. If you’re looking for an album which contains Bobby’s delivery coupled with a selection of interesting social commentary and excellent musicianship, this album is for you. (Margie’s At) The Lincoln Park Inn’ And Other Controversial Country Songs is featured in a multi-album reissue from BGO Records.
- Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town
- The Son Of Hickory Hollow’s Tramp
- The Law Is For Protection Of The People
- Cincinnati Jail
- Watching The Trains Go By
- Big Ben Colson
- (Margie’s At) The Lincoln Park Inn
- If There’s Not A Hell (There Ought To Be)
- Skip A Rope
- Wild As The Wind
- Drink Up And Go Home
- Rainy Day In Richmond