Various Artists

Number 1's: Country

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The country entry in Hip-O's Number 1's series of compilations is well-selected, at least in terms of representative chart-toppers -- too much so, some might argue, because so many of these songs are just plain common. After all, what country fan needs another CD featuring Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line," George Jones' "White Lightning," Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces," Dolly Parton's "Jolene," Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," the Oak Ridge Boys' "Elvira," and Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind," to name some of the most often compiled songs here? As common as the 20 songs here are, though, it is admittedly nice to have them all remastered and sequenced chronologically on a single-disc collection that spans such an impressive time frame, all the way from Hank Williams' "Hey, Good Lookin'" (1951) to Patty Loveless' "Timber, I'm Falling in Love" (1989). Sure, country fans will have heard some of these songs a kazillion times over, but in this context, they don't seem so overplayed. Country newcomers and casual fans, on the other hand, are in for a true treat here, for these really are some of the biggest number one hits ever to cross through Nashville. Hip-O did a great job picking the selections, and the Universal-owned specialty label even went so far as to cross-license a number of the selections from rival majors Sony BMG, EMI, and Warner Bros.

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