Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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*****

PATSY CLINE
The Definitie Collection
MCA Nashville

Country music's greatest female singer finally gets the best-of collection she deserves

Country music's greatest female singer finally gets the best-of collection she deserves Patsy Cline's soulful, precision-phrased twang was the perfect articulation of what became modern country. Unfortunately, her material was inconsistent and her production the all-too-perfect articulation of what provincial Nashville considered cosmopolitan. Believers go straight to the four-CD Patsy Cline Collection; skeptics are converted by the unbedizened Live at the Cimarron Ballroom. But this intelligently remastered collection from her brief early-'60s heyday buries the echo-laden Patsy Cline Story as the single-disc Cline of choice on audio alone. Not only that, the selection is an improvement--better "Half as Much" and "Lovesick Blues" than "South of the Border" and "Tra Le La Le La Triangle." As a bonus, the "Walkin' After Midnight" here is the 1957 one, from before producer Owen Bradley saddled her with all those backup choruses.

Blender, Sept. 2004