Greatest <em>Greatest Hits</em>

waylon-jennings-nashville-rebel1Okey doke, here's my thinking: we'll just do Country Quizzin' every other week for the time being. I look at the blogger/bloggee relationship like an ADD-culture marriage: you gotta change it up sometimes to keep things interesting for both parties!

With that in mind, a discussion:

I got myself on a dangerous roll these past few months in building up my music collection. It was probably a little silly of me; they say owning music is kind of on the way out (the kids these days are all about that newfangled “streaming” thing), and I don't have a great deal of disposable income to begin with.

But I so love to discover great music, to hold it in my hands. Especially older stuff, which just doesn't feel right t

o own exclusively in MP3 form. And when Amazon, eBay and my local record stores keep offering incredible deals on used items, I find their mating calls very hard to resist indeed.

And so I find myself now knee-deep in a pool of that most spurned of media forms: the compact disc. Most of mine are proper albums, but I've started to lean more toward compilation packages (e.g. “greatest hits”, “essential”, etc.), particularly box sets, which you can sometimes get for astonishingly good rates if you keep your eyes peeled.

And of course, they're such a nice way to scoop up most of the important output by artists who didn't always make cohesively great albums. For example, I picked up Waylon Jennings' 4-disc Nashville Rebel set a while back, and there's hardly a bum track to be found. I recommend!

What are some of your favorite country-related compilation packages? Also, who are some artists who you think have been worth collecting full albums from?



  1. I don’t own very many box sets and I’m kind of in the same boat when it comes to physical CDs. I love to hold something in my hand and look at the artwork and lyrics, but because they take up so much space, I’ve lately been purchasing only compilations. The only time I will purchase a studio album is if it is released by a favorite artist of mine that produces consistent, high quality records. The Universal Music Group’s Definitive Collection has been great (For a completist like me who loves to have every single, it’s ideal.) as have some of RCA’s Ultimate Collections (Clint Black, Aaron Tippin) and some Warner compilations (Travis Tritt, Neal McCoy, Tracy Lawrence, Dwight Yoakam). There are some artists that I would prefer to listen to their entire albums over a compilation (Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dixie Chicks). Other favorite Greatest Hits include The Legend of Johnny Cash, Brooks & Dunn’s, Alan Jackson’s, John Conlee’s Classics, George Strait’s 50 Number Ones and 22 More Hits Combo, the two single disc Essential Collections released by RCA in the mid 90s for Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks’ The Hits (a more enjoyable listen than his double disc Ultimate Hits), Alabama’s For the Record (I think this was re-released as The Essential), Randy Travis’ I Told You So: Ultimate, Keith Urban’s 19 Kids, Kenny Rogers Number Ones, LeAnn Rimes, the Crystal Gayle compilation released last year, Suzy Bogguss’ 20 Greatest Hits, Carlene Carter’s Hindsight 20/20 and Gary Allan’s. Some that have been disappointing and not very generous have been the Super Hits and 16 Biggest Hits series, Faith Hill’s, the upcoming Kenny Chesney’s Vol II.

  2. Recently, I’ve acquired box sets from George Jones (his entire United Artists recordings), Tammy Wynette’s Tears of Fire and the self-titled Tanya Tucker 4 disc box set (a must-have for Tanya fans). Box sets are the best way of encompassing an artists catalog into one set IMO. It also allows for more background information and photos if the packaging is done up right.

    I used to have lots and lots of artists I would buy every studio album they released. That list has gotten shorter and shorter over the past few years. I would still buy any studio album Garth Brooks releases though – and Reba too. For contemporary artists, Sugarland are about the only act that I will automatically buy their album – and then listen to the content.

    In this day and time of streaming music, an artist really has to do something special to get people to buy the physical product.

  3. It’s definitely a singles/mp3 market now. Reba is one of the few artists I will still automatically buy a studio release from. (Garth Brooks is not anymore. I think the last one I purchased was Scarecrow.) I was almost going to mention the Tanya Tucker box set. An awesome collection with older classics (re-recordings and not including one of my favorites, “Lizzie and the Rainman” though), the big 80s & 90s comeback hits, rare unreleased tracks, almost the entire What Do I Do With Me album, and excellent photos. I wish the liner notes had been more extensive though.

  4. I dont generally buy greatest hits albums, as I usually have most of the songs from the artists studio albums. However, one that stands out for me as a great greatest hits album is Martina McBride’s Greatest Hits released in 2001.
    Most artists greatest hits packages are just a way to buy time and money from fans and the new songs are forgettable, and just stuck on the end. This album actually elevated Martina’s career, and all 4 of the new songs became big hits and she still performs them in concert. And all the previous hits showcase what a great artist she is.

  5. Good question – I tend to wait for greatest hits collections for artists I don’t like well enough to buy their individual albums. So whereas I have nearly everything by artists like Charley Pride, Ernest Tubb, Buck Owens, Connie Smith,Brad Paisley, etc for artists like Tim McGraw , Jo Dee Messina, Faith Hill, Kenny Chesney I tend to wait for the compilations. As they say in boxing, pound for pound the best greatest hits album ever issued was The Best of Buck Owens Volume 2 issued back in the mid-1960s. The twelve songs on it and the sequencing of the songs, make it the gold standard by which I judge all hits compilations

  6. Hank Williams’ ’40 Greatest Hits’ turned my head around as a kid.

    And I’ll second highwayman3’s remarks about Martina’s best-of, which is really rock-solid.

  7. Just bought Ricky Van Shelton’s 16 Biggest HIts…man, I forgot how much I like his voice. Also bought David Allan Coe, Crystal Gayle and Vern Gosdin’s greatest hits CDs

  8. Mine would be Linda Ronstadt’s 1976 GREATEST HITS VOLUME 1, which covers the hits she had from “Different Drum” in late ’67/early ’68 to “That’ll Be The Day” in late 1976. It is her biggest-selling album, compilation or otherwise, in her career, at 7.5 million copies sold since its release in December 1976.

  9. Kathy Mattea “A Collection of Hits”.
    I really love her earlier recordings, it all seemed more “genuine” (perhaps?). Her next studio releases were too Celtic-influenced or Music Row-influenced, then eventually I guess I just lost interest.
    But it’s those earlier recordings that I still enjoy.

  10. I don’t know anything about Tom T. Hall besides Storyteller, Poet, Philosopher. But that is good enough for me. There is probably more incredible material, but I am content for now.

  11. there’s a tom t. hall collection that a buddy of mine just got that i need to pick up. i didn’t see a song on the liner notes that wasn’t stellar. i buy cds a lot of them. but i also download quite a bit too. i’m a nerd. i like to read about production, engineers and the studio where it was recorded etc. but again, i’m a nerd. most people these days don’t give a shit where it was recorded or how for that matter.

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