Loretta Lynn is often referred to as a "country music icon"; the fact is, that appellation sells her short. It doesn't get at her envelope-pushing brilliance, her courage or her remarkable vitality. Here's a more accurate description: great American artist. Period.
These 25 classic tracks form a sort of primer in the art of the Nashville turnaround, a country music staple in which the storyline is capped with a climactic twist, which serves to reshuffle everything leading up to it. When it's done right, the turnaround delivers the payoff with the concision of poetry and the perfect symmetry of algebra, and Lynn's own songs are designed as meticulously as the cover tunes, written by Nashville's canniest songsmiths.
Personnel: Loretta Lynn (vocals).
Liner Note Author: Bud Scoppa.
Recording information: 02/26/1964-02/03/1978.
Photographer: Les Leverett.
If you've never heard Loretta Lynn, you are missing out on one of the finest singers and songwriters the genre has ever known. If that's the case, THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION is the ideal place to start. Even if you have Lynn's tough-minded, irresistibly catchy tunes and her distinctive, textured-but-sweet-as-honey voice represented by a few assorted albums, it is hard to better this perfectly selected and sequenced 25-track compilation. In fact, with its generous playing time, impeccable sound, and beautiful accompanying booklet packed with notes, THE DEFINITIVE is, quite literally, just that.
1964's "Wine, Women, and Song" leads off the set, one of a series of Lynn's justly famous "ain't-gonna-take-it" songs. Following the floozy-bashing anthem "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man), come a seemingly endless stream of number one hits, including "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (with Lovin' on Your Mind," "Fist City" (arguably the greatest tough guy song ever sung by a woman), and "One's on the Way," one of several duets with Conway Twitty. Lynn's witty, progressive take on social issues ("The Pill") and her nakedly autobiographical writing ("Coal Miner's Daughter") are also here; but every track sparkles. This is an indispensable cornerstone of any country music collection.