Tommy Collins

The Capitol Collection

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As one of the forefathers of the lively, electric Bakersfield sound, Tommy Collins is one of the most important figures of country music in the '50s, yet his recordings have not been nearly as well-circulated as they should have been. Of course, it's hard to complain about his work not being widely available when it was all collected on Bear Family's exhaustive 1992 five-disc set, Leonard, but the size of that box is intimidating even for those who could afford it. Fortunately, Koch released The Capitol Collection in 2005, finally giving Collins a single-disc set of highlights of his best work. While this doesn't contain all of his charting singles -- none of his '60s singles are here -- it has all of his hits from the '50s, including "You Better Not Do That," "High on a Hilltop," "I Guess I'm Crazy," "It Tickles," "Untied," and "You Oughta See Pickles Now," along with a host of other great sides that illustrate exactly why Collins was such a great inspiration to Buck Owens and, especially, Merle Haggard (who gives an interview with Daniel Cooper for the disc's fine liner notes). While hardcore country fans will need the box, listeners with a stricter budget, or who are merely curious, should get this terrific disc, which is an essential addition to any serious country music collection.

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