on 16 November 2000
Live CDs can be something of mixed bag - for every one that captures a wide range of tracks greater than their studio equivalents, there's another that simply takes a handful of favourites and does its best to sound exactly the same as the original. Thankfully this recording from the real Queen of Country rests firmly in the former camp. Recorded over several nights at Dollywood, the appallingly named theme park dedicated to all things redneck and fiddle-related, this concert showcases 20 remarkably eclectic songs (2 of the tracks are short but sweet radio jingles and the other is a simple reprise). During the seventy or so minutes' running time, Dolly demonstrates her achingly sweet voice, her staggering songwriting skills and her disarmingly honest sense of humour. Featuring a number of her early classics, as well as some folk/bluegrass standards, the album tells us several things: firstly, Dolly's most at home doing bluegrass (as last year's The Grass Is Blue will testify); secondly, Alison Krauss is the finest harmony singer in the industry, and finally, that Dolly should never try doing an Irish accent. Altan sound positively alarmed when they join her for the classic Barbara Allen. Otherwise though, this is an exceptional recording - Dolly herself announced in her autobiography that she hopes this is the disc she'll be remembered for - blending delightful harmonies, touching sentiment, catchy melodies and a predilection towards songs with 'blue' in the title. All in all one of my all-time favourites - I defy you not to be moved when she sings True Blue. Now if she could just ditch the gingham...
on 1 July 2014
Amazing singing and harmonies, including from guest Alison Krauss. If you want to know the real Dolly, this is THE album to have. Each song really means something to her personally, and there's some very open talking from Dolly between some of the songs. Not a well known album, but it's great and is the one I play most. Don't hesitate, just buy it.
Dolly established her theme park in the region of East Tennessee where she was born and raised, and sometimes performs there herself. These recordings were made in 1994, and remind us of Dolly’s musical as well as her geographical roots.
Dolly performs several of her own oldies. It would have been interesting to hear some of her pop-country hits like Here you come again given a traditional country treatment, but Dolly avoided those. However, it is nice to hear new versions of My blue tears, Applejack, Coat of many colors and My Tennessee mountain home. Longer than always is a song Dolly first recorded as a duet with Porter Wagoner, but titled Is forever longer than always. Smoky mountain memories was originally recorded for Burlap and satin, but titled Appalachian memories.
Most interesting of all is the inclusion of To daddy. Dolly originally recorded this in 1976 for the All I can do album, then let her friend Emmylou hear it. Emmylou immediately recorded it herself and Dolly dropped it from the album, replacing it with another song. The original version eventually appeared on a compilation, The essential Dolly Parton.
Traditional songs are also included, among them Mary of the wild moor, In the pines, Barbara Allen and Wayfaring stranger, as well as a couple of country golden oldies - I’m thinking tonight of my blue eyes and Night train to Memphis.
This album was re-issued at mid-price in the UK. As I write this, it is still available form Amazon UK. Buy it now, before it goes out of print again !!!!