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Patsy Cline

The Best Of Patsy Cline – 2000 (House Of Hits)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Patsy Cline

Does the world really need another collection of previously-issued Patsy Cline material? In this case, it seems the answer is yes. This doesn't unearth any new recordings, as 1997's "Live At The Cimarron Ballroom" did, but it has considerable merit nonetheless.

The CD gathers 13 cuts made by Cline between 1955 and 1960, when she was under contract to 4-Star Records. Though the label leased the recordings to Decca and allowed Owen Bradley to produce them, owner Bill McCall insisted that Cline record only material published by his company. This arrangement was a serious constraint McCall's ear for a song wasn't in the same league as Bradley's and though a steady stream of material from these sessions was issued, its impact on the charts was minimal. Her first recording of "Walkin' After Midnight" (included here), with steel guitar by former Hank Williams sideman Don Helms, was a smash hit in 1957, and a follow-up, "A Poor Man's Roses" (not included) cracked the Top 20, but that was it.

Listening to these digitally remastered recordings, which sound immensely better than the generally shoddy previously released versions, it's a bit hard to understand why. Cline's voice was mature, and though Bradley hadn't yet found the winning pop-country formula he would eventually settle on when she signed with Decca itself, the arrangements are in the same general vein, though perhaps a touch more country than the smooth sounds of hits like "Crazy" and "Sweet Dreams." If you're a Patsy Cline fan and don't already have her 4-Star recordings, this CD is a must have.