Connie Smith

Connie Smith/Cute N Country

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Connie Smith is not as iconic a name to the general public as some other country stars of her era, and it's sometimes forgotten how big a commercial impact she made with her early recordings. Both of her first two albums -- Connie Smith and Cute 'n' Country, both from 1965 -- made number one on the country charts. This CD reissue combines both of them onto one disc, with the addition of historical liner notes. The 24 tracks include three songs that flew into the country Top Ten in 1965 (the chart-topping debut "Once a Day," "I Can't Remember," and "Then and Only Then"), as well as "Tiny Blue Transistor Radio," which as the B-side of "Once a Day" charted respectably under its own steam. Beyond its commercial success, this material was significant as solid Nashville country-pop with a honky tonk flavor that avoided over-slickness, though -- with full backup harmony vocals and plenty of steel guitar and piano -- the arrangements were plenty full. On some of the uptempo numbers, Smith sounds rather like a more honky tonk-based Brenda Lee, though when the tempo slows, she certainly sounds more rural. With plenty of covers of songs by her mentor, Bill Anderson ("I'm Ashamed of You" being a standout), it's a good-value package of classy Nashville commercial country.

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