This is the fourth major compilation of Mary's music in total (and I know of at least one budget CD) and the second of those four to be a double CD. It includes several tracks each from her 2002 album Heartbreaker and her 2004 album Just a country girl, as well as plenty of tracks from her earlier albums (many of which also appeared on those earlier compilations) and five tracks especially recorded for this album including an Everly brothers medley.
Mary Duff made her reputation primarily by singing covers of other people's songs, although she has occasionally recorded original material. Mary came to prominence in the late eighties, at around the same time as Daniel O'Donnell. They quickly established a successful professional relationship in which they tour together. They've also recorded two complete duet albums together as well as other duets that have appeared on solo albums by one or both of them. Four of their duets (Have you ever been lonely, Timeless, Secret love, Walk right back) are included here.
The oldest track here, Forever and ever amen, dates from 1988 and is a cover of the Randy Travis classic. Mary's early albums were all solidly country, although they included some Irish songs. Among the early tracks included here are Yellow roses (one of my favorite Dolly Parton songs - and that`s saying something because there are so many to choose from), Crazy (written by Willie Nelson but made famous by Patsy Cline), Walk the way the wind blows (one of several Kathy Mattea songs that Mary recorded), I'll be your San Antonio rose (originally a country hit for Dottsy but best known via the cover by Emmylou Harris on her album, Luxury liner), Silver and gold (another wonderful Dolly Parton song), Can I sleep in your arms (a song set to the tune of Red River valley, but with different lyrics) and Maggie (a traditional Irish song).
Later, Mary increasingly included pop songs in her repertoire and showed that she could sing these superbly, although she continued to record country songs (Heartaches by the number, End of the world) and Irish songs (Cliffs of Doneen, Danny the pipes are still calling, Beautiful Meath). Of the pop songs, I particularly like Mary's cover of Power of love (the Jennifer Rush song that has also been covered by Laura Branigan, Air Supply, Engelbert Humperdinck and Celine Dion among others), Single girl (Sandy Posey), True love ways (Buddy Holly) and three songs generally associated with Connie Francis (Lipstick on your collar, Where the boys are, Everybody's somebody's fool).
In 1997, Mary recorded Shades of blue, an album that recorded a significant amount of original material although it still included some covers. Perhaps Mary wanted to diversify, but it appears to have been a one-off as subsequent albums have been collections of covers, just like her earlier music. Three tracks from Shades of blue are included here, these being Amazing grace (by far the most familiar song on the album), Wounded hearts (an original song) and Isle of hope (probably also an original song).
The two tracks that close the second CD (Lili Marlene, We'll meet again) date from the Second World War and provide a great way to finish the collection. Mary recorded them live and her version of We'll meet again is outstanding - almost as good as Dame Vera Lynn's original.
Mary has recorded many brilliant albums and this double CD can only offer a sample, but if you're only going to buy one compilation of Mary's music, this is as good as any yet released.
I have loved Mary Duff's smooth, rich vocals since the first time I heard a clip of Jeannie's Afraid of the Dark a duet with her long-time singing partner, Daniel O'Donnell. This set of CDs is a collection of favorites through the years plus several new recordings. A good voice, and an even better set of songs ... I never tire of hearing Mary's voice ...A good value for the first time buyer of her music.
Having heard Mary when accompany Daniel O'Donnell, I liked what I heard and so decided to buy this and others of her CD's. This is a good one as it covers a wide range of the music she sings. Like a fine wine, she has definately matured well with age; both in looks and voice. I am not a traditional Country and Western fan; as I find the lyrics a little depressing, but this is not traditional country and western. She has a very relaxed voice and a wide range of genre. While this adds to our pleasure, it is probably the reason why she is not better known. A real pity. Try it, I don't think you will be dissapointed.