Various Artists

Country Favorites [Madacy 2000]

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Country Favorites is a collection of country music from the '70s and '80s spread across three discs. Some of the biggest names of the era are represented, including Lee Greenwood, Johnny Lee, Johnny Paycheck, Charlie Rich, Ricky Skaggs, George Jones, and Rodney Crowell. If many of those names no longer sound familiar, it is because almost this entire generation of country musicians was wiped out by the advent of the new country sound in the late '80s and early '90s. In fact, one of the contributing factors to this extreme changing of the guard was the low quality that the genre had reached in the '80s. And some excellent examples of the poor material from this time period are featured on the three discs here. Many of these songs are laced with keyboards, generic lyrics, and weak songwriting. There are some exceptions, especially Crowell's inspired "She's Crazy for Leaving," Jo-El Sonnier's Cajun-flavored "Tear Stained Letter," Lee's classic "Lookin' for Love," and Lynn Anderson's rendition of the blow-off anthem "Rose Garden." But for every good song, there are at least two bad songs, and that does not make for a good compilation. Fans of this time period in the genre may really enjoy this album, but most country listeners will probably find themselves disappointed by the generic filler between the winning tracks.

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