Jim Ed Brown possessed a fine baritone voice and an unerring instinct for carrying a song. Yet for all his considerable talents, the man is best known for one number, the late-night jukebox favorite “Pop a Top” which, with its eminently hummable chorus and lovelorn lyrics, succinctly and eloquently captured the lonely comforts of a sad song and a bottle of beer. Of course, Jim Ed Brown’s career runs a bit deeper than “Pop a Top””, and the sides featured on The Essential Jim Ed Brown contain many fine examples of well worn, effortlessly graceful country pop. All of the expected topics — faithless women, strong liquor, and lonely barrooms — are covered by tunes like “You Can Have Her”, “Bottle, Bottle” and “Broad-Minded Man.” Only Jim Ed Brown’s very earliest sides such as the doo-wop inflected “The Three Bells” deviate from this basic but enjoyable country-pop template. Even though nothing here approaches the heart-stopping brilliance of “Pop a Top” this collection does much to bolster the reputation of a skilled country singer who deserves to be saved from one-hit wonder purgatory.