Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Patsy Cline: The Definitive Collection [MCA Nashville, 2004]
In tone, timbre, and timing, Cline was the best-equipped female country singer ever. Where Dolly, Loretta, and Tammy are all downhome in their own ways, her swinging drawl still evokes the fleshpots--Raleigh! Richmond! Washington, D.C.!--and it's hard to imagine a more intelligent document of her 15 months of fame. "Crazy," "I Fall to Pieces," "She's Got You," "Half as Much"--these are perfect songs perfectly sung, now remastered to eliminate the echo that once dulled them. But though she survives Owen Bradley's strings and Nashville cats, his choruses remain, and unless you're focused, forgiving, or a sucker for kitsch, their hmms and oohs and doo-doo-doos do her in. Essential singing and history in an economical package that was long overdue. Fans will love it. But except in research mode, I bet I still play her live stuff. A-