George Hamilton IV once called Dick Damron "Canada's Willie Nelson," a phrase too catchy to not stick. Hamilton is onto something -- Damron attempted to play the game and eventually gained fame by going outlaw in the '70s -- yet the moniker doesn't quite fit comfortably, because Damron was a bit too much of a rockabilly cat at the outset, never sliding into the jazzy changes that distinguished "Crazy" and "Night Life." Instead, Damron just was one of those muted mavericks on the fringes, carving out a career by working steadily in places that wouldn't quite make him a star, which included areas of his native Canada. Bear Family's triple-disc 2011 set More Than Countryfied
-- its title an explicit admission that this is more than his breakthrough 1970 single -- gathers up everything he cut between 1956 and 1976, seemingly containing an emphasis on his tunes about Canada, but that's only because 1867-1967: Canadian Souvenir Album
, his 1967 album of Canadian country released in time for the country's centennial, creates the greatest impact and provides a pivotal point in Damron's career. Prior to that, he was an enjoyable journeyman, but 1867-1967
gave him focus, pushing him toward storytelling and a layered blend of folk and country. Damron never lost that narrative knack, and he began to push deeper into progressive country, taking in elements of folk and rock as he got deeper into the '70s. If Damron didn't blaze a musically progressive path so much as he followed a wayward trail, he nevertheless was distinguished by his concentration on Canada, and the music collected on this fine three-disc set is some of the best country music to come out of the Great White North in the '60s and '70s.