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Daily Record 11/12/10: The World of Country Music-various artists (1965)

In 1960s, compilations, country, Great Record Stores, record collecting, records, Rich's House of Vinyl on November 14, 2010 at 9:55 pm

The central idea behind this blog is that everyday I randomly pick a record or CD to listen to on the way to work and then, sometime later, I write about that particular record or CD. I had started doing this a while back with the previous entries, but life got in the way. I’m going to attempt to get back into the swing though.

The World of Country Music, a 1965 compilation of country music that had been released on Capitol Records during the previous five years (but mostly in 1964) is a great place to renew this project of mine. The album, a two-record set (“24 Top Hits on 2 Great Long-Play Records”) is a classic example of a compilation thrown together by a record company and sold cheaply in an attempt to get buyers interested in buying one (or hopefully more than one) albums by the artists represented on the collection.

Of course, I got my copy of The World of Country Music decades after its release (at the Princeton Record Exchange, one of the greatest record stores in the world, as far as I can tell), so Capitol’s priorities have probably shifted away from selling copies of Jean Shepard’s Lighthearted and Blue, Tex Ritter’s Hillbilly Heaven, and Merle Travis’ Travis! . But the fact that the marketing work of The World of Country Music has long since been completed makes the record that much more fascinating. It exists now simply as a wonderful time capsule encapsulating the country scene of the early 1960s (at least as could be found on Capitol Records).

Of course, even back then Capitol probably had higher priorities. Like, say, the Beatles. The Beatles influence is felt on The World of Country Music at least twice: first, on Buck Owens’ song, “My Heart Skips a Beat” (influence rolled back and forth between Owens and the Beatles); and second, on the goofy Tommy Collins’ tune, “All The Monkeys Ain’t In The Zoo,” which references the Beatles.

The songs here range from the somewhat silly (Jean Shepard’s “Second Fiddle,” and Ferlin Huskey’s “Timber, I’m Falling”) to the maudlin (Tex Ritter’s “I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven,” Red Johnson’s “There’s a Grand Ole Opry Show Playing Somewhere”). Musically, the tunes here are similarly diverse, ranging from traditional “hillbilly” sounds to rock’n’roll-influenced numbers to examples of the sophisticated and genteel “Nashville sound” (think Patsy Cline’s string-drenched ballads, though she’s not represented here).

Track for track, The World of Country Music is an excellent collection and takes me back to a time just before I was born when, as Bob Dylan wrote and sang, “the country music station plays soft but there’s nothing, really nothing to turn off.”

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