Various Artists

Country Classics, Vol. 2 [Varese Vintage]

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Usually, a title called "country classics" implies that the music contained within the CD hails from somewhere between the late '40s and early '70s. In the case of Varese Sarabande's Country Classics, Vol. 2, the "classic" applies to recordings released between 1976 and 1990, but mostly falling in the '80s, which very well may be off-putting to consumers that blindly buy collections called "country classics" with the assumption that they're going to be from the golden age of traditional country. Leaving that aside, this is a good collection of country Top Ten hits from an era generally overlooked by country purists. These 12 tracks prove that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there were indeed some very good straight country numbers released during the late '70s and '80s. While some of these are by such titans as Tammy Wynette, George Jones, and Merle Haggard, cuts by Ricky Van Shelton, Lacy J. Dalton, Doug Stone, Ricky Skaggs, and Ronnie McDowell are equally as good. This will not be a cornerstone of any country collection, and it's not necessary for most country libraries, but anybody looking for some of the finest sides from the '80s will enjoy this sampler.

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