Various Artists

Classic Country: Honky Tonk Heroes

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Even though they're occasionally shilled over the television airwaves, Time Life compilations are excellent sources for the best in mass-produced pop, rock, and country music. This 20-track collection of honky tonk is no different, standing as a near-perfect summation of the style as it emerged in the mid-'40s and lasted through the '70s. Starting where every honky tonk compilation should -- with Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell -- the disc proceeds to feature a parade of touchstone hits from Hank Thompson, George Jones, Ray Price, Johnny Horton, Ernest Tubb, and Willie Nelson. Of course, every compilation has its Achilles' heel, and this one is a tragedy -- 20 tracks and not a sign of Merle Haggard.

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