Various Artists

Country Classics, Vol. 1 [Varese Vintage]

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Country Classics, Vol. 1 is a seemingly random collection of Top Ten country hits from the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. The 12 songs were all Top Ten country hits and feature a mix of country legends and lesser known chart sensations. On the legend side there is Tammy Wynette (who is represented twice, with 1968's number one hit "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and 1967's heartbreaking duet with the hilariously overwrought David Houston on "My Elusive Dreams"), Johnny Cash (whose "One Piece at a Time" from 1976 is one of his lesser efforts), Ray Price (his sappy "Make the World Go Away" from 1963 is included), Merle Haggard ("Let's Chase Each Other Around the Room" from 1984 is one of his best post-glory days songs), Lefty Frizzell (his "Saginaw Michigan" from 1964 is one of the highlights of the collection), and George Jones (the stunning "He Stopped Loving Her Today" from 1980 triumphs over the modern production). The rest of the disc is filled out by an early Tanya Tucker track, the smooth country-rock of Exile, the smooth Countrypolitan sounds of David Houston, the stiff new traditionalist sound of Gene Watson's "Memories to Burn" from 1985, and Tommy Cash, Johnny's younger brother and vocal doppelgänger who clocks in with a moving (and amazingly liberal for a country singer) tribute to the slain leaders of the '60s: Martin Luther King and the Kennedy brothers. The jumble of eras, styles, and quality means the collection doesn't flow very well and really serves no coherent purpose. There are some very good songs here, but they can most likely be found on better collections than this.

blue highlight denotes track pick