Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Tammy Wynette

  • Tammy's Greatest Hits [Epic, 1969]
  • Tammy's Greatest Hits Volume II [Epic, 1971] B
  • Tammy Wynette's Greatest Hits Volume Three [Epic, 1975] C+
  • Womanhood [Epic, 1978] B
  • Greatest Hits Volume 4 [Epic, 1978] B+
  • Just Tammy [Epic, 1978] B-
  • Anniversary: Twenty Years of Hits [Epic, 1987] B-
  • Best Loved Hits [Epic, 1991] Choice Cuts

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Tammy's Greatest Hits [Epic, 1969]
[CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]

Tammy's Greatest Hits Volume II [Epic, 1971]
While no one was looking, that stand-by-your-man gal was writing a female identity song: "The Only Time I'm Really Me" (is when I'm asleep--and presumably dreaming). Which is almost cancelled out by one of the most appalling divine justice songs in that godforsaken subgenre: "The Wonders You Perform" (at least it's not about her husband). Beyond those two it's the best of the usual--her sultry resignation has archetypal power when the ideology isn't too repellent. It's more archetypal on her first best-of, though. B

Tammy Wynette's Greatest Hits Volume Three [Epic, 1975]
Songs like "(You Make Me Want to Be) A Mother" are why so many women more honest than Tammy don't want to be mothers--makes having a child seem like losing a self, and defines having a self as manipulating others. Though it was written by two men, I credit Tammy with enough autonomy to blame her for it. And would add (somewhat paradoxically) that the only time this compilation comes to life is during the song about her children and the song to them. C+

Womanhood [Epic, 1978]
In which Billy Sherrill performs (or permits) a miracle: five good songs on one side. (Nobody ever accused Bily of thinking big.) On side one, we learn about virtue sorely tempted, the limits of sisterhood, music as emotional communion, virtue abandoned, and the limits of professionalism. On side two, Tammy confuses Wolfman Jack with John the Baptist and then retreats into the commonplace. With country albums, you take what you can get. B

Greatest Hits Volume 4 [Epic, 1978]
Nothing like d-i-v-o-r-c-e to bring out the independent woman in you--the only marital-commitment song here is about having an alcoholic husband. And where in her domestic-paragon phase she was beginning to sound prim, here she ranges from forthright to positively hot, torching up her tales of star-crossed sex as if she's just learned how to masturbate. Point of interest: Billy Sherrill's latest collaborator on Tammy's material is George Richey, Tammy's latest husband. B+

Just Tammy [Epic, 1978]
This is schlock with conviction, the essential country music parade. But what makes a great country album for urban speedsters like me is lyrics that are worth listening to, maybe even thinking about, and these begin and end with the opening cut, "They Call It Making Love." B-

Anniversary: Twenty Years of Hits [Epic, 1987]
Her corn pone all husk, her bouffant as sultry as Aretha's do, she sings like the heartbreaker who's about to best the long-suffering wife her lyrics put on a pedestal, but no matter how hypocritical her trademark equation between marriage, submission, and fulfillment, she remains the most soulful female country singer ever. And since she left George Jones (which no one in the world blames her for) and found fulfillment with George Richey a decade ago, her music has gone phfft. Twenty years my foot--the newest song here is a (professional) reunion with George (Jones) that's seven years old. In a world where Greatest Hits, Greatest Hits Volume 4, and George & Tammy's Greatest Hits still exist, this unexceptionable CD-length commemorative issue is about as useful as a kudzu seed. Consult your catalogue. B-

Best Loved Hits [Epic, 1991]
"Unwed Fathers" Choice Cuts