Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
We've sold a ton of Marty's legendary 1959 concept album about the Old West on expensive import, but now it's out domestically with the rare B-sides The Hanging Tree; Saddle Tramp , and the long version of El Paso joining such classics as Big Iron and Billy the Kid ! A lonely Westerner in Nashville, Marty Robbins salved his soul by cutting an album (in one afternoon) of mostly self-composed cowboy ballads. One of them was a four-and-a-half-minute epic, "El Paso," that broke every rule of Top 40 programming to become a No. 1 pop and country hit in 1960. Robbins was arguably the most surefooted and accomplished singer in all country music, and that was never more obvious than on these Western ballads performed to often breathtaking perfection with a very small group and a vocal trio. Other titles include "Big Iron" (also a Top 30 hit), "Running Gun," and Western classics like "Cool Water," "Billy the Kid," and "The Strawberry Roan." Three extra tracks flesh out the 1999 release, including "Saddle Tramp" (the B-side of "Big Iron") and "The Hanging Tree" (title song from the 1959 Gary Cooper Western). --Colin Escott
2009 essential greatest hits collection gathers all of Glen Campbell's hit songs in one contemporary package. Contains 14 classic songs from his '60s and '70s heyday plus two tracks from his excellent 2008 album Meet Glen Campbell. Of the 16 tracks on this compilation, 12 of them reached the Top Ten, with five of those hitting the #1 position! Includes great hits like 'Gentle On My Mind', 'Rhinestone Cowboy', 'Wichita Lineman', 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix', 'Southern Nights' and many other unforgettable hits.
Manufacturer: MCA Nashville
Brand: Williams, Don
The warmth and tenderness of this Texan sent his songs soaring up the country charts in the '70s and '80s. Here are 25 of his biggest hits: his #1s I Believe in You; Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good; You're My Best Friend; Some Broken Hearts Never Mend; Til the Rivers All Run Dry; Say It Again; I'm Just a Country Boy; Love Is on a Roll , and more!
Manufacturer: Warner Bros / Wea
Brand: Warner Bros
Big & Rich are throwing a party, and everybody is invited. With their genrehopping, fence-busting debut album, Horse Of A Different Color, the duo brings the most exciting new scene in Nashville to the rest of America - where people who listen to country music don't just listen to country music, where folks wear a John Deere hat and an Eminem T-shirt. With drinking songs and thinking songs, songs about the legends of the West and songs about the streets, Big & Rich play "country music without prejudice," echoing everything from honky tonk to rock 'n' rap, surrounded by a Wild Bunch-meets-the-Rat Pack posse called the Muzik Mafia. It's been a helluva long time since country has been this wild and this much fun. Country music had no bigger story in 2004 than the rise of the Muzik Mafia, a renegade group of Music City misfits led by Big & Rich (Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich, the latter formerly of Lonestar) and Gretchen Wilson. Both acts shook up Nashville's lethargic, formulaic format--Wilson with her take-no-bull brand of redneck chic, and Big & Rich with their eclectic, wild-haired blend of honky-tonk, rock, rap, ballad, and western, the shoot-'em-up motif for their traveling circus, i.e., Wild West show. Their debut, Horse of a Different Color, which showcases the pair's unusual high-low vocal harmony, is both funny and irreverent ("Kick My Ass"), not to mention clever. (They sing "bad word" in place of a rhyming epithet.) Boasting "music without prejudice" in their self-mythologizing "Rollin' (The Ballad of Big & Rich)," they reference Charley Pride as "the man in black," and trot out country music's first African American rapper, Cowboy Troy. Yet race turns to "racy" in the duo's hit single "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)," the disc's least interesting cut. The easy laugh and rapped stanzas overshadow the smarter lyrics on the rest of the record, which concerns itself not only with frontier justice, but, surprisingly, with old-time religion (Jesus, tolerance, and in a song about sexual abuse, "Holy Water"). Lik...
Kenny Rogers: 21 Number Ones' is back-to-back chart-topping hits that include his greatest duets, 'Islands In The Stream' with Dolly Parton, which this year was named Country's Greatest Duet by CMT, 'We've Got Tonight' with Sheena Easton, 'Every Time Two Fools Collide', 'What Are We Doing In Love', 'All I Ever Need Is You' as well as 'Lady' and many more. Capitol. 2006. The gravel-and-grits voice of Kenny Rogers ultimately came to define the "Urban Cowboy" era of pop excess, even as the earlier "Lucille" and "The Gambler" were some of the most galvanizing story songs in country music's history. Looking back at this body of hits, it's easy to poke fun at the treacley "You Decorated My Life" or wince at the cheesy string arrangements on "Through the Years." It's also natural to wish Rogers had never heard of Sheena Easton, his misguided duet partner on "We've Got Tonight," and recorded more with the soulful, sad Dottie West ("Every Time Two Fools Collide") and the randy Dolly Parton ("Islands in the Stream"). (A bonus track, "Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer," pairs him with old pal Kim Carnes.) As the years went by, Rogers got fatter, lazier, and more content to make crappy TV movies and wallow in the flaccid sentimentality of adult contemporary pop ("Buy Me a Rose"). He also got smug--the worst of sins for a man in his business. But behind the microphone, he always knew how to make even the hoariest of lyrics resonate with feeling. And at his peak, he was the perfect male country superstar, equal parts swagger and sweet, sweet promise. --Alanna Nash
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
Brand: BMG Heritage
With 65 million albums sold, ALABAMA is the best selling country group of all time, and one of the 20 best-selling acts of all time, in any genre! The finest single-disc collection ever assembled from the top selling group in country music history!
The aim was to do for country what Saturday Night Fever did for disco. The result was that bars from Kona to Kalamazoo suddenly had mechanical bulls, and slickers walking around in cowboy hats. You might also pinpoint this as the moment in time when "country" music suddenly went cosmopolitan, paving the way for Garth Brooks. Johnny Lee's "Lookin' for Love" was one of the decade's biggest singles, and this album briefly made a star of Mickey Gilley (whose Texas club provided a home for that alpha bull). Fans of Bob Seger, Jimmy Buffet, the Eagles, Dan Fogelberg, and Bonnie Raitt may want this collection for the tunes they lack elsewhere. And it sure recalls an era. But please don't call it "country." --Bill Holdship
Manufacturer: Sony Legacy
The incredible thing about Marty is all of the hits he had in so many genres of music! This 20-track collection explores his pop, rock, country hits and more. Marty Robbins has more greatest-hits compilations than most artists have hits. This 20-cut single-disc collection is one of the better values, with a representative selection that extends from gunfighter balladry such as "El Paso" (his 1959 chart-topper and biggest crossover success) and "Big Iron" to the calypso-tinged "Devil Woman" to his cover of Gordon Lightfoot's folkish "Ribbon of Darkness." Throughout his 30-year recording career, Robbins combined a tremulous tenor with canny commercial instincts, stretching the boundaries of country music while expanding his popular base. He was equally at home with a cowboy song ("Red River Valley"), a gospel tune ("You Gave Me a Mountain"), and a slice of Hawaiian exotica ("Aloha Oe"). Inexplicably, the album features the schmaltzy "Love Is Blue" at the expense of "A White Sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation)," a '50s pop smash that remained one of his biggest hits. --Don McLeese