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Digital Subscriptions > Country Music > Apr/May 2019: Classic Country! > Essential COUNTRY ALBUMS

Essential COUNTRY ALBUMS

From the roots of country to the neotraditionalists of now, here’s an essential playlist

HANK WILLIAMS

MOANIN’ THE BLUES (1952)

The long-gone Hank Williams remains a defining figure of country music. His talent as a songwriter and performer, coupled with his troubled personal life, created the template for all those who have followed him. Moanin’ The Blues is packed with killer hits and has more than survived the test of time.

JOHNNY CASH

WITH HIS HOT AND BLUE GUITAR (1957)

Not only was this Cash’s debut release, it was also the first full-length LP to be released by Memphis’ legendary Sun label. The great man’s voice commands every track, while the distinctive ‘boom-chicka’ rhythm propels them further down the line. Cry! Cry! Cry!, I Walk The Line and Folsom Prison Blues are all here.

KITTY WELLS

COUNTRY HIT PARADE (1956)

The Nashville-born Wells was country’s first female star and, as such, the original Queen Of Country. Her reputation was made at the Grand Ole Opry but, ironically, the song that sent her into superstardom (It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels) was deemed too risqué to be performed there.

ERNEST TUBB

THE DADDY OF ’EM ALL (1957)

The original Texas Troubadour was a singing, songwriting, guitar-playing country pioneer who cut his first single way back in 1936. The Daddy Of ’Em All, his debut long-player, was worth the wait and successfully showcases his distinctive honky-tonk sound. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop can still be found on the main strip in Nashville to this day.

WARNING : NO PO PCO UNTRY ALLO WED!

COUNTRY PIONEERS COMPILED

BOXSETS WITH A HISTORY LESSON!

Until you find a firm favourite from the earlier days of country, boxsets and collections are probably the best way to enjoy the genre (outside of simply streaming, of course). The Very Best Of Bluegrass (on the Not Now label) compiles the likes of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, The Carter Family and Roy Acuff on a sub-£10 3-CD set. For vinyl lovers, the companion to the recent TV series American Epic: The Best Of Country is a tightly-curated single vinyl LP of early pioneers, while American Epic: The Sessions has the likes of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ashley Monroe and others reinterpreting classics. ‘The Singing Brakeman’ is well served by numerous comps, and there’s nothing to quibble with in The Rough Guide To Jimmie Rodgers (2xCDs from World Music Network) which also includes peers The Carter Family, Dock Boggs, Fiddlin’ John Carson and Uncle Eck Dunford. At the other end of the scale, the Bear Family label reissues mammoth retrospectives. The Carter Family: In The Shadow Of Clinch Mountain is a 12-CD collection with a 220-page hardcover book for more than £200.

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