Various Artists

Honky Tonkin' Rhythm: 1950s Country Boppers

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One of the most valuable digital-era compilations of '50s honky tonk and country boogie, Honky Tonkin' Rhythm: 1950s Country Boppers assembles over 50 valuable tracks by a parade of artists (from the famed to the obscure) and labels (major or very minor). Certainly not for the faint of heart (or those new to honky tonkin'), it includes very few hits and, nearly everywhere, it seeks to resurrect some of the most obscure sides or forgotten artists. The sound quality isn't stellar, but it's easy to forgive a small issue when so much of this music is impossible to find elsewhere and sounds so good. Another feature rarely found on country compilations is the range of artists, including a good share of the most popular honky tonkers (Lefty Frizzell, George Jones, Bob Wills, Webb Pierce, Wanda Jackson, Merle Travis, Little Jimmy Dickens) with less-known performances to rank alongside some of the most obscure ever recorded and released. (It's probably a function of the 50-year copyright limit in Great Britain that a label like GVC [Great Voices of the Century] is able to combine the output of so many classic honky tonk labels, including Decca, Capitol, Columbia, RCA, MGM, King, Hickory, Starday, and many others.)

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