The Bottom Line
- As a selection of country music chart toppers that also scored on the pop charts, it can't be beat.
- There's a wide range of country hits here, spanning three decades.
- Almost all of these hits were influential on country music in some way.
- The sequencing is not chronological, which can be jarring.
- 2 CD
- 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond
- Various Artists
Guide Review - Various Artists -- Billboard #1 Classic Country
Meaning that you know more of these classics than you think you do -- Fifties lovers will recognize Patsy Cline's "I Fall To Pieces" and Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line," as well as solid one-offs like the Browns' "The Three Bells"; early and late countrypolitan are well represented by everyone from Tammy Wynette ("Stand By Your Man") to Lynn Anderson ("Rose Garden"); and the Seventies "outlaw" movement produces Number Ones like Willie's "On The Road Again" and Merle's "Mama Tried." And while there are plenty of hits so pervasive in our pop consciousness that they almost don't seem to qualify as country at all -- Roger Miller's "King Of The Road" or Ray Price's "For The Good Times" -- there's also some songs that could never be anything but, like Marty Robbins' timeless "El Paso" and Buck Owens' "Act Naturally." You'll have to sort all this out for yourself since the non-chronological sequencing results in wild changes of tone. But this remains, ironically, the one country collection to buy for your friends who aren't into country. Or who say they aren't.