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Bobby Ross, Voice of America (Constellation VOA-1). This may be one of the most important records you listen to this year. Songs are written by Vietnam War veterans and sung by Ross, a former lieutenant with the 101st Airborne Division. He is not a great singer, but on every song, his message rings true. Especially on "Me and Oscar," a tale that traces the relationship between two boyhood friends that ends with the post-war suicide of one of them. Some of Nashville's best -- including drummer Eddie Bayers and guitar master Brent Rowan -- donated their studio chops to make sure it was done right.

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