Patsy Cline

Crazy Dreams: The Classic Early Years

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Patsy Cline's early recordings for Bill McCall's Four Star label were a mixed batch. Tied to his restrictive production practices of only letting her record songs he held the copyrights to for the first five years of her recording career, Patsy was often stuck doing sub-standard material. She would never record a bluesier, more back-shack number like her first hit, "Walking After Midnight" (not even coming close on the later re-recording of it for Decca), but like a street toughie facing impossible odds, she gave as good as she got, injecting her already evolving stylistic flair into slight offerings like "Hungry for Love," "I Cried All the Way to the Altar," and "Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray." Early sides like "Hidin' Out," "A Church, a Courtroom and Then Goodbye," "I Go to Church on Sunday," and "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down" are all songs far better-suited to Kitty Wells, but Cline's approach is both musical and varied, given the sawing fiddles and paint-by-numbers backing. A hint of her style to come surfaces on the bluesy "There He Goes," the rocking "Stop Look and Listen," the brassy take on "Lovesick Blues," and the orchestrated "A Poor Man's Roses or a Rich Man's Gold," country with a strong vein of pop ballad running through it. This material has been repackaged countless times, and all 51 tracks she cut for McCall are available on a double-disc set, but this 18-track collection cherry-picks through most of the dross and makes for better overall listening. While most of this pales in comparison to her later hits, it's nonetheless a fine collection showing that a star was already in the making, emerging from the cookie-cutter material she was saddled with.

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