Apart from the Dolly Parton tracks (Jolene, Bargain store) these tracks are not famous in the UK. Some are covers of songs that are better known via other versions, but even so, this is a collection of relatively obscure music from a British perspective. Country music fans will, of course, know some of these songs, but there are a few surprises even for us.
The most noticeable surprise is the inclusion of tracks by Vikki Carr and Cher. Vikki recorded plenty of country songs in her own style in the late sixties and early seventies, including two entire albums that have been paired on CD as The Ways To Love A Man / Nashville By Carr. Cher's country credentials are less obvious, but on reflection, some of her early music is not that far removed from country, while Kenny Rogers and Dottie West had a huge country hit with All I ever need is you, originally recorded by Sonny and Cher.
The one singer featured who I'd never previously heard of is Joan Harris, who sings That's a fact of life, which she recorded for Custom Records in 1970. Unfortunately there are no other facts of her life or that recording in the otherwise detailed booklet, nor is there a picture as there is for every other featured artist. (Despite not being featured in the music, there are comments about and a picture of the original Carter family.)
Those quibbles aside, there is plenty for country fans to like about this collection. Apart from Joan Harris, the only artist making their debut in my CD collection is Linda Martell. In both cases, I'd like to hear more of their music.
Two tracks each by Jeannie C Riley, Jody Miller, Barbara Mandrell and Lynn Anderson mostly avoid the obvious, although Barbara is represented by her biggest American hit, If loving you is wrong. The song has been a UK hit but not for Barbara.
While Dolly's own tracks here are famous, she is also represented via Jan Howard's excellent cover of Your ole handy man; Dolly's own version of this appeared on one of her two Monument albums and can be found on some CD compilations of her early music.
Kitty Wells is represented by her 1974 cover of Bob Dylan's Forever young, while Patsy Cline is represented by Come on in, recorded in 1956 and sounding far more country than on her more famous later tracks.
Elsewhere, there are excellent tracks by Diana Trask, Wanda Jackson, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, Tammy Wynette and Jean Shepard.
If there is to be another volume, I'd like it to include Dottie West's cover of This stranger my little girl, from her Carolina cousins album. Originally by Barbara Fairchild, who is a great singer, but Dottie's version of this song is better. Dottie was a very soulful singer and I'm surprised that she hasn't featured in either of the first two volumes.
Meanwhile, Volume 2 is outstanding.