Personnel: C.W. McCall (vocals); Ron Steele (guitar, 12-string guitar); Ron Agnew, Larry Morton, Ron Cooley (guitar); Gregg Fox (12-string guitar); Stuart Basore (steel guitar); Steve Hanson (banjo, mandolin); Curtis McPeake, Bobbie Thomas (banjo); Jim Schanilec (strings, tuba); Jackson Berkey (strings, keyboards, percussion); Miriam Duffelmeyer, Mortimer Alpert, James Hammond, Phillip Wachowski, Ginni Eldred, Alex Sokol, Beth McCollum, Dorothy Brown, Joe Landes, Barbara Potter, Myrtle Bowman, Morton Schatzkin, Lucinda Gladies, Irene Brandt, Hugh Brown (strings); Eric Hansen (harmonica); Gene Badgett (trumpet); David Kappy (French horn); Bill Buntain (trombone); Jean Allen (keyboards); Chip Davis (drums, background vocals); Don Simmons, Terry Waddell, Bill Berg (drums); Milt Bailey, Gary Morris, The Puffys, Sarah Westphalen, Ruth Horn, Mike Hirsch, Mel Olsen, Jerry Smithers, Jan Sheldric, Dick Solowicz, Christopher Cable, Carol Rogers (background vocals).
Audio Remasterer: Warren Barnett.
Liner Note Author: Alvin Lucia.
Recording information: Sound Recorders, Inc., Omaha, NE.
Arranger: Chip Davis.
It's anyone's guess why truck drivers and the citizens' band radios they used to communicate with one another suddenly became a major part of America's cultural Zeitgeist in the mid-'70s, but William Fries and Chip Davis managed to help create this phenomenon and cash in on it at the same time. Fries and Davis were working for an advertising agency in Omaha, Nebraska when they came up with a series of commercial jingles for a bakery chain that featured a laconic but fast-talking truck driver as their narrator. The commercials were successful enough that Fries and Davis cut a single in which they spun two musical shaggy-dog stories out of the eccentric trucker; they gave the character the name C.W. McCall, and after the single became a local hit, Fries and Davis scored a deal with MGM Records, and landed a handful of minor country hits with "Wolf Creek Pass," "The Old Home Filler-Up an' Keep on A-Truckin' Café," and "Classified." In 1975, C.W. McCall crossed over to the pop charts in a big way with the song "Convoy," and for a year or two Fries became a genuine star as McCall until the nation's obsessions turned elsewhere. Wolf Creek Pass is an expanded reissue of the first C.W. McCall album, with the first ten tracks taken from the 1975 Wolf Creek Pass album (albeit in a different sequence), and the remaining 15 drawn from the three other C.W. McCall albums that were cranked out in less than two years following. The selections from Wolf Creek Pass have best stood the test of time, with their oddball humor and winning sense of playfulness, while the character got more serious after "Convoy" became a hit, making the late-inning selections something of a chore. But the expanded Wolf Creek Pass is probably as close to definitive as a C.W. McCall collection is ever going to get, and it captures the good humor of Fries and Davis' early sides as well as their moment of chart-topping success. (And this was just a few years before Davis would become a cottage industry with his pop/classical project Mannheim Steamroller.) Fine listening for gear jammers and those who love them. ~ Mark Deming