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Joel Whitburn's Top Country Songs 1944-2005

By Joel Whitburn

Record Research, 621 pages, $59.95

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz, March 2006

Find it on Amazon
By the looks of it, the latest installment of Billboard's country songs would not be very exciting. The book consists of a bunch of names of artists with scant bio information and dates relating to release dates and chart positions. But as usual, a peek behind the numbers yields a treasure trove of information for the country music fan.

Interesting tidbits? Eddy Arnold remains the number one artist of all time. George Jones is second.

The Bee Gees managed to make the charts in 1978 - hitting 39 - with "Rest Your Love On Me."

Frank Sinatra never made the country charts, but daughter Nancy did - three times matter of fact with "Texas Cowboy Night, "Play Me Or Trade" and "Where Would I Be," all done with Mel Tillis in 1981.

Eydie Gorme of Steve & Eydie fame made the charts, barely. "Take One Step" hit 94 in 1973.

Five different acts with Montana in their name charted with Billy Montana being the only one who had much of any career, charting in 1987-88 as Billy Montana & The Long Shots and in 1995 on his own. And the group Montana - somehow they were from Reno, Nev. - sadly were killed in a 1987 plane crash.

Of course, many, if not most of the acts, were unknowns. Andy Badale, who charted with "Nashville Beer Garden" in 1980 isn't exactly a household name. That's not what happens when you hit 93 on the chart.

An addition to this book, replacing the 2001 singles book, is that songwriters are included with each song. Alphabetical listings of songs of artists who have charted more than 60 songs is included as well, a helpful tool. At least one line of biographical information is listed for each musician, although listing someone as a "male singer" isn't all that enlightening.

Of course, this isn't a book that to be read. More like looking up an artist or just browsing and just discovering something new.