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Outstanding bonus tracks added to great album,
This review is from: Jolene (Audio CD)
To coincide with Dolly's European tour of 2007, there were several CD releases including yet another best of compilation and three twofers (of which this is one) featuring six albums, five of which had never been released on CD while the other had only briefly been available in the early days of CD. Three of Dolly's older albums were also released with bonus tracks (of which this is one) although only the bonus tracks were new to CD, the main albums having already been made available on earlier releases.
The basic Jolene album as originally released had ten tracks, all of a high quality. Two of them became number one country hits for Dolly before eventually becoming internationally famous. The first was the title track, which became a British top ten hit in 1976. Dolly's music has been popular in Britain ever since, and may now be more so than in her homeland, although her popularity isn't reflected in raw chart statistics. Many singers have covered Jolene over the years since, the first major cover being by Olivia Newton-John, who included it on her 1976 album, Come on over.
The other famous song on Dolly's Jolene album is, of course, I will always love you, though it took much longer to achieve international acclaim. Linda Ronstadt was the first major artist to cover it when she included it on her 1975 album, Prisoner in disguise. Dolly re-recorded the song for her 1982 movie, Best little chicken house in Texas (yes, I know it wasn't a chicken house), whereupon the new version repeated the success of the original by becoming a number one country hit. International success eluded the song until Whitney Houston made it into a worldwide pop hit. Then Dolly had another country hit with the song, this time as a duet with Vince Gill, though it didn't make the top ten. As a footnote, it's worth noting that multi-artist pop compilations featuring the song often include one of Dolly's solo recordings rather than Whitney's version, presumably because of royalty issues.
There was always much more to the original album than the two classics. Eight other great songs include When someone wants to leave (a sad song about a one-sided love), River of happiness (I always loved this upbeat, happy song, though I cannot listen to it now without thinking of Amazon), Highlight of my life, It must be you and Living on memories of you. There are also two outstanding songs that weren't new to Dolly's existing fans, though they were new to me at the time because I was just starting my record collection when I bought this album in 1978; more about those later.
None of the four bonus tracks have ever been released before although one of the songs (Barbara on your mind) should be familiar to Dolly's fans. Dolly later re-recorded the song for her 1982 album Heartbreak express, along with three other songs that she had previously recorded (Release me, Do I ever cross your mind, My blue ridge mountain boy). As originally recorded in 1973 in a style similar to the other album tracks, Barbara on your mind sounds somewhat different from its 1982 re-incarnation. Brilliant as that track is, my favorite among the four bonus tracks is Cracker Jack, a story song about a dog that supposedly had fun with as a child, having discovered him as a homeless stray. I don't know if the story is true or a figment of Dolly's fertile imagination, but it's brilliant either way. The other two songs (Another woman's man, Last night's lovin') are also excellent.
With four tracks of such high quality that could have been included in the original album, one is left to wonder at the decision to leave them out, especially as two of the chosen songs were not new. Lonely coming down first appeared on My favorite songwriter Porter Wagoner, an album released in 1972, less than two years before the song re-appeared on Jolene. Early morning breeze is a little older, having first appeared on the 1971 album Coat of many colors, although Dolly re-recorded it (only slightly differently) for the Jolene album. Well, it doesn't matter now that the expanded album is available. The curious thing is that the liner notes only comment on the original album although the recording details cover the bonus tracks as well.
If you've already got the original album on CD, you may be reluctant to buy the expanded version. If you're a committed Dolly fan as I am, you'll easily by the inclusion of three previously unheard songs and a fourth that is very different (and more countrified) than the hitherto familiar version. Compare that with the re-releases of Coat of many colors (also four bonus tracks but only two previously unheard songs) and My Tennessee mountain home (only one bonus track, Secred memories, available elsewhere on CD, it first appeared on the album Love is like a butterfly, which album still awaits a CD release). If you have all three albums on CD already, the bonus tracks here offer better value than the other two.