Various Artists

Country: The American Tradition

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Even when isolated from the gargantuan 26-disc box set Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century, the 51-track Country: The American Tradition is impressive. Columbia was one of the biggest labels in the early days of the record industry, as is evident from the beginning of this collection, which features cuts by Fiddlin' John Carson, Charlie Poole, Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers, and the Carter Family. What's more impressive is that the label -- and later, its subsidiaries -- captured the sound of each era. A glance at the featured artists -- Gene Autry, Bob Wills, Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, the Byrds, Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, and the Dixie Chicks are among them -- gives a sense of not only how the label developed, but how country music did as well. Some major artists are missing -- they didn't sign everyone, after all -- as are some trends, but the overall effect is overwhelming. This set traces the history of country music in the 20th century, offering a terrific educational experience while also being entertaining. It's a feat that's difficult to pull off, let alone by concentrating on one group of labels, which is why it's all the more impressive.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:47 Amazon
2 3:09 SpotifyAmazon
3 2:52 SpotifyAmazon
4 2:57 SpotifyAmazon
5 2:56 SpotifyAmazon
6 2:50 Amazon
7 3:11 SpotifyAmazon
8 3:11 SpotifyAmazon
9 3:08 Spotify
10 2:55 Spotify
11 2:41 Spotify
12 2:47 Spotify
13 2:23 Spotify
14 2:36 Spotify
15 2:38 Spotify
16 2:43
17 2:49 Spotify
18 3:04 Spotify
19 2:46 Spotify
20 2:34 Spotify
21 2:56 Spotify
22 3:07 Spotify
23 2:33 Spotify
24 2:31 Spotify
25 1:52 Spotify
26 2:29 SpotifyAmazon
27 4:39 Spotify

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:01 Spotify
2 2:36
3 2:20 Spotify
4 2:20 Spotify
5 2:58 Spotify
6 3:32 Spotify
7 2:41
8 2:57 Spotify
9 3:48 Spotify
10 2:56
11 2:24 Spotify
12 2:19 Spotify
13 3:03 Spotify
14 2:37 Spotify
15 3:35
16 3:17
17 3:17 Spotify
18 3:01 Spotify
19 4:47
20 3:19
21 4:05 Spotify
22 4:25 Spotify
23 2:49
24 3:43 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick