Known mostly for the number one pop and country hit "Harper Valley P.T.A.," Jeannie C. Riley made it big in Music City right when the Nashville sound starting showing a few crossover signs smacking of the psychedelic '60s. With a voice somewhere in the vicinity of Ann Margaret after years of booze and cigarettes, Riley offers up her own youth culture statement on "The Generation Gap" and sings of being down and out to the tune of an imitation electric sitar on "Backside of Dallas." Fat rock beats abound on cuts like "The Girl Most Likely" while the liberal revivalism of the Doobie Brothers' "Jesus Is Just Alright with Me" gets prefigured on the hilariously titled "Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up." Of course this a country collection, so Riley finds her trad voice on the pedal-steel weeper "Duty Not Desire" and the updated honky-tonk cut "Macon Georgia Bad Girl." Most impressive, though, are her forays into swamp country á la Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe": look out for standouts like "He Made a Woman Out of Me" and a version of Kris Kristofferson's chestnut "Help Me Make It Through the Night." And there are 15 more equally enjoyable tracks on this Collectables collection, making it the best of the few compilations of Riley's prime cuts from 1968-1974. For those still a little unsettled at the thought of investigating later born-again titles like From Harper Valley P.T.A. to the Mountain Top, this one's for you.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook