Various Artists

Classic Country: Hard to Find Hits

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If one ascribes to the axiom that they don't make country music like they used to, then Classic Country: Hard to Find Hits provides ample evidence. The collection gathers together 20 country hits, most of which climbed the charts in the late '50s and early '60s. The spare accompaniment of these songs, highlighted by acoustic and electric guitars, steels, and bass, tastefully leaves the Davis Singers, Bobby Edwards, and Jack Greene front and center. A number of these oldies -- "Don't Let Me Cross Over," "500 Miles Away from Home," and "Easy Loving" -- will be fairly well known, but previous knowledge isn't a requirement to enjoy Jimmie Rodgers' upbeat version of "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" or Wynn Stewart's "It's Such a Pretty World Today." The sum-total effect of Hard to Find Hits is a little like tuning into a static-filled AM station that plays nothing but classic 45-rpm records. For those unaccustomed to older country, these songs may be a bit too tame ("Don't Let Me Cross Over" is about as racy as things get), and the background singing on many cuts is a bit cheesy. But for everyone who longs for the days when loud electric guitars were relegated to rock & roll and country actually sounded like it might come from the country, Hard to Find Hits is a lo-fi blast from the past.

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