Conway Twitty started out as a country singer, then switched to rockabilly and rock & roll after Elvis Presley broke open the airwaves for it, and then went back again to singing country when the Beatles changed the face of rock & roll in the early to mid-'60s. Twitty loved singing in both musical streams, and he wasn’t an opportunist so much as he was practical and in touch with his audience. From the beginning his real strength was in singing ballads -- whatever the genre -- and he excelled at it. This expansive single-disc, 33-track collection from Bear Family Records gathers his early rock and pop ballads from the Sun, Mercury, and MGM record labels and spans 1956 to 1963, stopping just short of his switch to country in 1965, making it the perfect companion to Bear Family's similar set, Conway Rocks, which chronicles the more rocking material he recorded in the same time span. Highlights here include the classic “It’s Only Make Believe” (written by Twitty and his drummer, Jack Nance) from 1958, a definitive version of “C’est Si Bon,” fine takes on classics “You Win Again” and “What Am I Living For,” and the delightful “Is a Bluebird Blue,” written by Dan Penn. Hearing these tracks makes clear that Twitty's later switch to country was hardly a drastic move -- more like switching from one side to the other in a big, old, and very comfortable easy chair.
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