Marty Robbins

Live Classics from the WSM Grand Ole Opry

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These 21 tracks are drawn from 1951-60 performances at the Grand Ole Opry, starting from a time at which Robbins was a relative unknown, and ending at a time when he was not just a country but a pop superstar, performing his #1 hit "El Paso" in 1960. While this in no way equals the best studio material he cut from the period, for Robbins fans, it's a fine, well-assembled opportunity to hear him in a different context. The sound is thinner, of course, than his Columbia recordings of the 1950s were, both in terms of the actual fidelity and the more basic live arrangements. It's kind of nice to hear him in a less slick setting, though, and he performs well, the repertoire including familiar hits like "A White Sport Coat," "The Story of My Life," "Singing the Blues," "Knee Deep in the Blues," "I'll Go on Alone," and "The Hanging Tree." Of more note to specialists will be the less familiar songs, like his take (with fiddle) on the Arthur Crudup/Elvis Presley classic "That's All Right"; two songs on his maiden 1951 Opry appearance ("Ain't You Ashamed" and "Good Night Cincinnati, Good Mornin' Tennessee") that he never recorded in the studio; a couple of gospel songs; and the Hank Williams cover "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)." In its own way, this set illustrates his considerable development over the course of the 1950s as aptly as a 1950s Marty Robbins best-of would.

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