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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 19 March 2008
I always had a problem with Country as a youngster, growing up as I did in a working class English town and hooked on Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Sabbath. Though I could listen to Johnny Cash, some of the female country stars of the time (Tammy Wynette etc) really grated on me.

I bought this collection on a whim while working out in California a couple of years ago. This was the first time I really listened to Emmylou Harris as a recording artist in her own right, though I was familiar with her work with Gram Parsons and her excellent backing vocals on Dylan's Desire.

I must say that this album blew me away. Her voice is totally exquisite and it is little wonder that her talents been in such demand over the years. Though The Grateful Dead first introduced me to country, Emmylou has shown me what a beautiful musical form it can be, surrounding herself, as she does, with some extraordinary musicians. Needless to say I am now a committed Emmylou fan and this album has been a regular visitor to my CD player & iPod, and has since been joined by Elite Hotel, Luxury Liner, Quarter Moon, Pieces of the Sky, Blue Kentucky Girl and Roses in the Snow. Others are in the pipeline.

Though a compilation, this album will have a special place in my heart for the rest of my life. Every time I listen to it, I'm driving up Highway 99 from LA to Sequoia NP again. Beautiful music, whether in a car, working or just chilling at home.
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With her voluminous output, any Emmylou Harris compilation must of necessity be incomplete. There is rarely a dud on any of her many albums so the selection process can never be an easy one.
This album opens with her famous duet with the legendary Gram Parsons and is followed by her own composition and tribute to him, Boulder To Birmingham, a song with beautiful imagery. Then comes the lovely ballad Making Believe which was only of her early great hits.
Hits or not, every track is a gem, like Pancho And Lefty, Beneath Still Waters and the uptempo If I Could Only Win Your Love. Another great duet is the one with Roy Orbison, while To Know Him Is To Love Him is drawn from one of her collaborations with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt.
Her lovely gospel style is represented here by Green Pastures, Orphan Girl and the achingly beautiful Calling My Children Home. The change of direction away from country into atmospheric rock took place in the 1990s with the album Wrecking Ball whence Orphan Girl and subsequently the breathtaking Michelangelo from Red Dirt Girl and Here I Am from Stumble Into Grace.
My personal favourites on an album of masterpieces include Beneath Still Waters, Together Again, Boulder To Birmingham and the aforementioned three songs from her post country period.
Emmylou Harris breathed new life into country from the mid 1970s and has since gone from strength to strength artistically. Hers is the most authentic, heartfelt female voice of the last three decades.
Heartaches and Highways is a superb introduction to this consummate artist that has contributed so much and I highly recommend it to the novice. Her devoted fans will have most of the original albums anyway.
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Emmylou has always been a singer that focused on albums. Her music covered a wide variety of styles, but each album had its own style, although the changes in style became even more dramatic in the nineties. This compilation brings together tracks from all those differently styled albums from the mid-seventies to the start of the new millennium.
If you are familiar with her more recent music via albums like Wrecking ball, Spyboy and Red dirt girl but not her earlier music, I must warn you that this is primarily a country music compilation although the last few tracks from those later albums.
During the seventies and eighties, Emmylou had many hits on the American country charts including five solo number one hits, all cover versions and four of them included here - Sweet Dreams (a Patsy Cline cover) is missing, but this is juas a single CD compilation. Emmylou's other country number ones were Together again (Buck Owens), Two more bottles of wine (Delbert McClinton), Beneath still waters (George Jones) and a live recording of Lost his love on our last date (Floyd Cramer). Emmylou's seventies and early eighties recordings are also represented by such classics as If I could only win your love, Boulder to Birmingham, Making believe, Pancho and Lefty, One of these days and Born to run, but (as any Emmylou fan will testify), a lot of great songs has been left out.
Emmylou also had a number one country hit with To know him is to love him (a cover of the fifties pop hit by the Teddy Bears) which she recorded with her friends Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt and which is also included here. We believe in happy endings, a duet with Earl Thomas Conley, also reached number one in the country charts but you have to buy Emmylou's Duets album to get that - it's not here. Two of Emmylou's many other duets are included - Love hurts (with Gram Parsons) and That loving you feeling again (Roy Orbison).
Country radio stations eventually lost interest in Emmylou's music, at which point Emmylou decided to change the direction of her career and the style of her music. Wrecking ball and the albums that followed it featured plenty of Emmylou's own songs. Although Emmylou had occasionally written songs in her younger days (notably Boulder to Birmingham and the songs for the concept album, Ballad of Sally Rose), it wasn't until the new phase in her career that she took songwriting really seriously.
This is a brief overview of Emmylou's career covering three decades of music. If you are on a limited budget or you only want a little of Emmylou's music, this may suit you ideally. The new generation of Emmylou fans who enjoy Wrecking ball and what followed but who are doubtful about the early stuff may also find this a worthwhile purchase - it will enable them to decide whether to commit themselves to exploring further. Country music fans, on the other hand, are likely to get more enjoyment from the double-CD Anthology compilation or by collecting the individual early albums.
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on 3 March 2012
The problem with a "very best of" album for someone like Emmylou Harris is that she has produced too much high quality music for the compilation process to be easy and uncontroversial. Every Emmylou Harris fan will have a different idea about what is "the very best". I personally would like to have seen "Evangeline" and "Queen of the Silver Dollar" and some more Paul Kennerley compositions on this album. My personal view is that this should have been a double CD set or even a treble CD set (David Bowie and Queen have both had treble CDs of their hits, so why not Emmylou?). Having said that, it's fine as far as it goes and if anyone new to Emmylou Harris just wants to get a flavour of what this remarkable singer-songwriter can do, I would recommend it without reservation.
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on 7 June 2011
I wouldn't say this really is the best of Emmylou but there are some good tracks on this cd. I found the first half of the cd to be better than the second half but its down to individual preference really.
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on 5 June 2016
A wonderful collection for sure, but why Rhino couldn't have put this out as a double CD (at least) is a searing quetion. Emmylou has so much great material to pick from after all - presumably its to leave a canny open window ior another volume in order to fleece fans twice.
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on 10 February 2013
This is a very good complitation and an ideal addition to your collection if you have missed out on Emmylou up to now
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on 7 June 2011
Heartaches and Highways - The Very Best of Emmylou Harris this album is an excellent selection of her songs through the years, except in my opinion the last two tracks.

But then I am not a fan of her later work and just simply do not undertand her choice of songs on her later albums.
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on 12 March 2013
enjoyed listening to Emmylou. used to hear her years ago and it bought back memories. Some of the songs i hadn't heard
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on 15 March 2013
As the title states - The Very Best Of Emmylou Harris- she never lets you down. As good now as she has always been.
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