Kitty Wells

Kitty Wells [Eclipse]

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It has often been said that you get what you pay for, and this 31-minute budget CD bears that out. Assembled by the Eclipse label in 1994, Kitty Wells was not expensive; it went for as little as three to five dollars in some U.S. stores. But that is no bargain when a collection is as problematic as this one. First, Eclipse fails to provide recording dates or list any of the musicians, which is the sort of laziness that infuriates collectors. Second, Eclipse doesn't give listeners the original versions of gems like "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" and "Heartbreak, U.S.A.," but rather second-rate re-recordings. Saying that these re-recordings are second rate isn't saying that they are terrible; actually, they are decent. But the original versions are still the best, and those are the versions that casual listeners should hear if they are exploring Wells' legacy for the first time. The CD also contains some older recordings, including "Lonely Street," "Love Makes the World Go Round," and "Talk Back Trembling Lips"; unfortunately, Eclipse's digital remastering leaves much to be desired. There is no reason why recordings from the 1960s should sound so lousy on a CD, and they wouldn't have if the label had remastered them properly. If you have only a casual interest in Wells' work and are seeking a greatest-hits package, Eclipse's release should be avoided. Instead, look for something that offers recording dates, comprehensive liner notes, credits, and the original versions of her essential 1950s and 1960s hits. MCA's excellent 1991 release Country Music Hall of Fame -- just to give one example -- would be a much wiser investment than Kitty Wells. Yes, it would be more expensive, but certainly worth the price of admission. One cannot say that about this release, which is a rip-off even at three to five dollars.

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