The best single disc of her early recordings ever released
Bradley Olson | Bemidji, MN United States | 09/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although the title says "25 All-Time Greatest Recordings," there are actually 26 songs on this as this CD contains both versions of "I Don't Wanna" on the same disc. All of the tracks on this CD come from the original 4 Star masters that are in Universal's vault. A tape of "A Poor Man's Roses" was finally discovered in Universal's vault and wasn't even used on the 4 CD boxed set by MCA/Country Music Foundation who used a disc dub and the master tape copy of this track is very well mastered just like the whole disc. The disc was compiled by Cary Mansfield at Varese who feels that these tracks are the best songs from her entire 4 Star catalog which is a catalog of 50 songs. I had bought Special Music Co.'s "Let The Teardrops Fall" CD in a cutout bin at a record store for "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down" alone and the whole disc of the Special Music Co. CD referenced has lots of surface noise and even the track on "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down" is so clean on this CD that I donated the "Let The Teardrops Fall" CD to my local country radio station that plays classic country music. Although I do have lots of these songs on other CD's, the sound on this is very well improved from those discs. Buy this for the best of her early stuff right now with great sound."
Expertly picked anthology of Cline's earliest recordings
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 11/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though it's a bit of a stretch to call these early recordings Cline's all time greatest, it's no stretch to call them essential. True, only one of these tracks actually charted (1957's "Walkin' After Midnight," included here in its original hit form, rather than the re-recording featured on many other compilations), but the 25 hand-picked titles (representing half of Cline's output for 4-Star) are filled with gems, and Varese's mastering from the original tapes sounds wonderful.What really makes Cline's 4-Star catalog special is the arc that it traces from her earliest straight-Country recordings through sides on which producer Owen Bradley begins to find the Nashville Sound. Cline's first single, recorded in 1955, includes plenty of fiddle, steel, tears and heartache. "A Church, A Courtroom, and Then Goodbye," taped perhaps not coincidentally around the time of her divorce from Gerald Cline, shows her voice in astoundingly full bloom. At a time when female stars were a scarce commodity on the Country scene, Cline had honed her performances in endless radio and honky-tonk gigs.By 1956 Bradley was already making records without the overt twang. "Walkin' After Midnight," has a smoky late-night resonance that allowed it to cross over to #12 on the pop chart. 1957's "Three Cigarettes and an Ashtray" pushes even further in this direction, courtesy of Cline's sophisticated, torchy lead and atmospheric background vocals courtesy of the Anita Kerr singers.Though it's often said that Cline's 4-Star recordings were limited by the song catalog from which she was allowed to choose, this collection shows just how much good material she was still able to find. In their entirety the 4-Star titles don't compare to what she subsequently recorded for MCA, but there are plenty of excellent songs here. It's particularly interesting to hear the variations of her approach and the sounds with which she's surrounded. From weepy, steel-and-fiddle ballads to spirituals to bluesy late-night torch songs, Cline's voice stamps each with an amazing authority.While these recordings may not be the place to begin one's appreciation of Patsy Cline, they do provide an essential tour of her recording roots. Anyone ready to listen more deeply than the well-known hits should start here. Those who want an even larger helping should find the 48-track, two volume "Four Star Recordings" set from the Country Stars label, the 50-track anthology "Crazy Dreams" on Sundown, or the out-of-print three-disc "Her First Recordings" series on Rhino. For all but the completist, however, these expertly picked 25 tracks should suffice."
Timeless early Patsy Cline recordings
Joe Sixpack -- Slipcue.com | ...in Middle America | 11/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first volume of Varese Sarabande's collections of Cline's pre-Decca recordings on the independent 4-Star label. This disc has some of her bluesiest and most "country" performances, including gems such as the raunchy "Hungry For Love," and teen-pop oriented material like "Walking Dream" and a triplet-heavy "Stop The World (And Let Me Off)." Many Cline fans find this era to be her best, or least closest to her country roots. Inching towards her transcendent crossover style, Cline gives a few interesting spins to lots of formulaic material, and even leaves a unique stamp on hard country classics. Patsy plays it slow and mournful on her 1956 version of "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down," later a rollicking, upbeat hit for Charlie Walker, while a similarly slowed down version of "Life Is Like A Mountain Railroad" is given a subdued, barbershoppish arrangement. And then of course, there's Cline's majestic voice, which lifts any song, no matter how formulaic or run-of-the-mill; on some songs she's struggling against the so-so arrangements, but always with great success. This is a really tasty, generously programmed collection... with great sound quality as well. Recommended!"