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Customer Review

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diverse compilation with something for all country fans, 10 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Original Hits - Country (Audio CD)
I rarely buy multi-artist country compilations, but I was attracted to this particular compilation because although I I have a substantial collection of country music including a majority of what's here, there are plenty of tracks that I don't have elsewhere, as well as a few brilliant obscurities that I have but wouldn`t necessarily expend to find on a compilation like this. Those looking for a multi-artist hits collection with few obscurities should consider 101 Country Hits before committing themselves this set.

Although this budget 6-CD compilation was released by EMI and most of the tracks are from its own labels, there are a few tracks here from Sony/BMG too, so making this a very strong collection, at least from a British perspective. Many of the songs will be familiar to British country fans (and a fair number to British pop fans too) although some are represented by cover versions rather than the original artists.

With most of the tracks coming from the EMI vaults, Glen Campbell and Kenny Rogers are particularly well represented, but several artists are represented by three or more tracks including Juice Newton, Slim Whitman, Suzy Bogguss, Dr Hook, Billie Jo Spears, George Jones, Crystal Gayle, Lacy J Dalton, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Bobbie Gentry, Chris Ledoux, Tanya Tucker, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Deana Carter. Oddly, there are no Anne Murray or Merle Haggard tracks here, though the EMI vaults contain many of their big hits.

Country music arguably peaked in Britain during the seventies, when country singles regularly made the top ten in the pop charts. Several of those hits are included here, including Rhinestone cowboy, Coward of the county, Rose garden, The most beautiful girl, Don`t it make my brown eyes blue, What I`ve got in mind, Annie`s song, Blanket on the ground, Honey come back and Lucille. From the fifties and sixties, you`ll find Rose Marie, He`ll have to go, Young love, Game people play, I'll never fall in love again, Wichita lineman and Sixteen tons. All of these UK hits are here by the original hit-makers.

Among the obscurities, I was particularly pleased to find a couple of tracks by Wild Rose (Go down swingin`, Hillbilly twist), even though I have the album from which they came. At the time, I thought they might become major country stars, but they didn't. They made three albums in the early nineties, since when some individual members have continued with separate careers. Diane Pfeifer made a country album circa 1980, which I meant to buy at the time but didn't. She disappeared into apparent obscurity soon afterwards, though a Google search shows that she has had a very successful career away from the music business. Here, she is represented by Wishful drinkin'. It's also great to see a couple of Mel McDaniel tracks here (Louisiana Saturday night, Baby's got her blue jeans on). Though poorly represented on CD, most of his music is available as downloads.

One of my favorite tracks here is Meet me in Montana, a duet featuring Dan Seals and Marie Osmond. Those who are only familiar with Marie's seventies music are in for a real surprise, as her eighties country music is very different. It's a pity that none of her solo country recordings were featured here, but maybe a few people will be tempted to explore further after hearing this track.

Being a budget release, you can't have everything. The booklet crams the track listing, including copyright details but not songwriter credits, on to two pages and is difficult to read. Also, like other compilations in the series, the set is housed in what looks, at first glance, like an old-style double CD case. You know, the ones that were standard before manufacturers came up with a way of housing two CD's in what looks like a single CD case. Those old double CD cases are easily capable of housing four CD's, providing the middle section has the necessary bits to hold them in place, but by using the same principle that is used in modern double CD cases, six CD's have been squeezed into what was originally designed as just a double CD case. But at the UK price, these are minor quibbles.

Whether as a starting point for a country music collection, or as an addition to an already substantial collection, this set has something for every country fan. With 122 tracks, it might not suit people who only like a little bit of country. Then again, it doesn't have to be played all at one session, does it?
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