Various Artists

Fifty Years of Country Music from Mercury

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AllMusic Review by

This is a fair collection, as far as giving us an overview of Mercury Records' country releases from its very first year of operation. The first notable voice heard here is Don Gibson, as a member of the Sons of the Soil; in this company, Flatt & Scruggs' "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" is practically a piece of progressive music, and would be wholly out of place here if not for the fact that this is an overview. Mercury cut quite a few artists working in a more archaic style, such as Claude Boone and Bill Nettles. Disc One takes us up through the work of some pop singers doing country, rockabilly pioneers, and rock & roll stars in the making, plus one future country star (Jimmy Dean) and one other bluegrass classic, "Angel Band" by the Stanley Brothers. Disc Two, covering 1957-1969, includes some of the most familiar country stars in Mercury's history: Roger Miller, Faron Young, Leroy Van Dyke, Bruce Channel, George Jones, Johnny Preston, Dickie Lee, Tom T. Hall, and Charlie Rich. The last half of Disc Two and the first half of Disc Three cover the Shelby Singleton and Jerry Kennedy years at the company, when Mercury became a major force in country again. As a consequence, the last disc is made up of some of the most familiar material, including songs by Billy Joe Shaver, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Rodriguez, the Statler Brothers, Johnny Paycheck, Kathy Mattea, Donna Fargo, the Kentucky Headhunters, Sammy Kershaw, Billy Ray Cyrus, John & Audrey Wiggins, and Shania Twain. The 73 songs are mastered very cleanly, and the notes are reasonably detailed but not as well organized as they might have been.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:40
2 2:50
3 2:33
4
2:36
5 2:24
6 2:22
7 2:12
8 2:24
9 2:38
10 2:59
11 2:54
12 2:27
13 2:25
14 2:10
15 2:00
16 2:13
17 2:33
18 2:25
19 2:08
20 2:07
21 2:26
22 2:38
23 2:07
24 3:09
25 2:45

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:48
2 2:51
3 2:05
4 2:49
5 3:49
6 2:38
7 2:08
8 3:20
9 2:25
10 3:44
11 3:18
12 3:17
13 3:17
14 2:50
15 2:49
16 3:19
17 2:47
18 2:54
19 3:23
20 3:29
21 2:55
22 3:20
23 4:07
blue highlight denotes track pick