Never less than authentic, and irascible to the very end, Johnny Paycheck was one of country music’s all-time great honkytonkers and most incorrigible outlaws, one of the truly larger than life figures in a genre that’s full of ‘em. Paycheck got his break in the early ‘60s backing up George Jones (who appears on a couple of hit duets on this collection), then changed his name from Donald Lytle to Johnny Paycheck and recorded some cult classic hard country sides with maverick producer Aubrey Mayhew on the Little Darlin’ label. Nashville producer Billy Sherrill brought him to Epic, where he scored a series of pop-flavored smashes, but not even Sherrill could tame him, and by the mid-‘70s Paycheck joined the outlaw country movement, which suited his renegade temperament just fine. “Take This Job and Shove It,” “Slide Off of Your Satin Sheets,” and “I’m the Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)” (all included here) were among his biggest outlaw sides. In the end, Paycheck succumbed to some of the self-destructive tendencies he celebrated in song and wound up in jail, but he left behind some of the greatest country of the ‘70s. Now, Real Gone Music has put together the ultimate collection of his seminal Epic recordings, 40 songs including a full 32 of his chart hits for the label featuring such classic tunes as “She’s All I Got,” “Someone to Give My Love To,” and “Mr. Lovemaker.” Chris Morris’ liner notes explore the life, music, and times of one of country music’s most colorful characters; remastering is by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios. Essential, real country!