Dolly Parton | Dolly (RCA /Legacy)

cd_dolly.jpgSo few American singers are more deserving of a retrospective collection.

Dolly Parton needs no introduction. Seven Grammy Awards, nine Academy of Country Music awards and 11 Country Music Association Awards testify to her success in her chosen career, while receipt of the Living Legend Medal of the Library of Congress and the National Medal of Arts demonstrate her secure place in American culture. She’s been a regular presence on the country hit parade for five decades and has had at least one #1 hit every decade since 1970.

So few American singers are more deserving of a retrospective collection, and now RCA/Legacy has produced one which honors the breadth and depth of her career, with one reservation which I will discuss below. Dolly is a four-CD box set containing 99 songs which Parton recorded between 1957 and 1993, as well as (according to publicity materials) a 60-page booklet including a 5,000-word essay by award-winning author Holly George-Warren (the booklet was not included in the materials provided for review). It’s a fine collection which shows off Parton’s versatility while achieving a nice balance between the well-known and more obscure recordings in her career.

This collection includes plenty of big hits, including "I Will Always Love You," "Jolene," "Heartbreaker," "9 to 5" and "It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right." Of course, "Dumb Blonde" (with the classic tag line "This dumb blonde ain’t nobody’s fool") is in there, as are 11 duets with Porter Wagoner, including "Last Thing on My Mind," "Just Someone That I Used to Know," "Please Don’t Stop Loving Me" and "Daddy Was an Old Time Preacher Man," along with many other selections from her albums.

Dolly also includes seven previously unreleased tracks, including a demo recording of "Gonna Hurry (As Slow as I Can)" written by Parton and her uncle Bill Owens, "Everything is Beautiful (In Its Own Way)" written by Parton and recorded at a 1969 RCA Studios Nashville session, and the original composition "God’s Coloring Book" recorded at the April 1971 sessions for the LP Coat of Many Colors. There’s also one song not performed by Parton: "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" sung by Bill Phillips, which won Parton her first BMI songwriting award.

The only criticism I have of this collection is that the most recent material is more than 15 years old. "Romeo" from 1993 and several songs from 1990, including "Rockin’ Years" with Ricky Van Shelton which went to #1 on the Billboard Top Country Songs chart, are as current as it gets. I assume the reason nothing more recent is included has to do with rights or the intent to release those songs separately: no explanation is provided in the materials I received for review.

The sound is excellent but I can’t comment on the packaging because I received only the CDs. This is a fine collection for fans of Dolly Parton and country music in general, but it’s not quite comprehensive because it ends abruptly in the 1990s while her career has continued full steam ahead. B+ | Sarah Boslaugh

RIYL: Busted; Hand Sown…Home Grown/Silk Purse; Mountain Soul II


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