Photographers: Michael Putland; Les Leverett; Andrew Putler; David Redfern; Se¤or McGuire; Simon Fowler ; Rick Richards.
Hip-O's 2005 double-disc set Classic Country Gold casts a wide net. It begins with Hank Williams' 1951 hit "Hey, Good Lookin'" and ends with Patty Loveless' 1989 hit "Timber, I'm Falling in Love." In between those two tracks are 34 songs, most of them indeed living up to "classic" status. While this doesn't necessarily make for the most consistent listening -- it jumps through too many eras and styles to truly be cohesive -- it nevertheless provides a good, affordable way to acquire such great singles as "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," "I Walk the Line," "Hello Walls," "Walk on By," "I Fall to Pieces," "King of the Road," "Mama Tried," "Hello Darlin'," "Jolene," "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," and "The Gambler." In other words, it's a good first step in exploring classic country. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine