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Country - Released January 1, 1967 | Geffen

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The title track was one of those defining songs for Loretta Lynn, not only one of the best but one of the most likeable country & western artists. She bats one home run after another in these vocals, singing her brains out and coming across as totally convincing in each role she takes on. The cynical "I Got Caught" is one of her finer originals, while she also has the knack of picking covers that suit her perfectly, such as "The Shoe Goes on the Other Foot Tonight" by the underrated Buddy Mize. No country fan will mind that she covers a number by her old sidekick, Ernest Tubb. Then there's the pickers who came along for the ride, totally tearing it up. The series of lead guitar/pedal steel interchanges that run through this album are certainly more attractive than the Nashville freeway system, and definitely contributed more to 20th century civilization. Lynn would later record the song "You're Lookin' at Country," and that pretty much sums up the view of this mighty lady. This here is stone-cold country, and it doesn't get much better. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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Country - Released January 1, 2002 | Geffen*

This straightforward hits collection contains all 16 of Loretta Lynn's number one country hits according to Billboard, five of them duets with Conway Twitty, plus three number two hits and three number three hits, all released originally between 1964 and 1979. The singer also scored one other number two hit, the Twitty duet "I Still Believe in Waltzes" from 1981, and several other number three hits, as well as numerous other major songs that are not included. Some of them could have fit on a CD that runs less than 57 and a half minutes, but from a record company point of view the issue is less the time than the number of tracks, since song publishers must be paid royalties on each title. That makes 22 tracks (none of which run longer than three minutes and 15 seconds) a packed disc from a profit perspective, even if consumers wonder why the album isn't more complete. As it is, there are enough of Lynn's big records to justify the title and make this a good purchase for anyone seeking a single-disc hits collection. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Country - Released May 11, 2017 | Old Stars

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Country - Released May 11, 2017 | Old Stars

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Christmas Music - Released November 14, 2016 | Old Stars

There are those who would like to set every Christmas album ever recorded ablaze over a Yuletide fireplace, but let's hope these cheerless arsonists overlook this already well-roasted chestnut of a record. If anyone has the personality to make a good Christmas record, it would be Loretta Lynn. But there are surprise goodies in her gift bag, as she even manages to come up with three great original numbers based on the holiday, the best of the batch being "To Heck With Ole Santa Claus." Her playful side helps her extract nice feelings from too-familiar numbers such as "Silver Bells" and "Frosty the Snowman." And she's such a great vocalist she is able to give both Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby a run for the mistletoe as she takes Christmas from shades of blue to white and back again. Some good country session pickers hold things together whenever she stops for a holiday smooch. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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Ambience/New Age - Released October 7, 2016 | Legacy Recordings

Recorded during the same extensive sessions with Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash that produced 2016's Full Circle, 2016's White Christmas Blue shares many aesthetic similarities with its predecessor. Spare and simple without being Spartan, White Christmas Blue is rather stark for a holiday album and that's its charm: it's not quite rustic, yet it's down-home and proudly part of country tradition. To that end, White Christmas Blue contains a pair of songs from A Country Christmas, the holiday album she released in 1966. "Country Christmas" and "To Heck with Ole Santa Claus" sit nicely alongside a set of familiar carols and secular seasonal songs -- not to mention the title track, which is a perfectly fine new original tune -- and the cumulative effect is cozy and comforting, a record that could easily be played around the fireplace every holiday season. On top of that, White Christmas Blue showcases Lynn's enduring skills in a somewhat more appealing fashion than Full Circle. Where that album was deliberately designed to encompass the run of Lynn's life, the modest ambitions of a Christmas album reveal how assured Lynn remains as a singer and how Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash surround her with a band that's sympathetic and never affected, ingredients that result in a pleasing album regardless of the season. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released August 29, 2016 | Old Stars

Loretta Lynn's fourth album -- fifth if you count her duet record with Ernest Tubb from earlier in 1965 -- is a collection of Christian songs but, despite the title, the record is actually about evenly divided between traditional church music and what would eventually come to be called contemporary Christian music. The rollicking opening track, "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven (But Nobody Wants to Die)," biblical verse or no, sounds more like a classic Sun Records rockabilly single, complete with slapback bass and Scotty Moore-style guitar, than anything one would be likely to hear on a Sunday morning. That song is a Lynn original, as is the closing "Where I Learned How to Pray," a sentimental weeper in the classic style. In between, Lynn essays traditional hymns and newer classics of the style like the Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey's immortal "There'll Be Peace in the Valley for Me," the arrangement of which strongly recalls Elvis' hit version. A relative rarity among Lynn's albums, this disc was reissued by King Records in 1998. ~ Stewart Mason
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Country - Released April 13, 2016 | Shami Media Group

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Country - Released March 30, 2016 | Shami Media Group

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Country - Released March 16, 2016 | Shami Media Group

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Country - Released March 4, 2016 | Legacy Recordings

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Full Circle is no accidental title for this, Loretta Lynn's first album after a 12-year break. Released as Lynn approaches her 83rd birthday, Full Circle not only deliberately returns the country legend to her Kentucky roots, it's constructed as a summation of her life. It opens with the first song she ever wrote -- a lovelorn waltz called "Whispering Sea" -- and runs through old folk tunes she sang as a child, revisits hits she had in her prime, and adds new tunes to her repertoire, all the while acknowledging that she's closer to the end of her life than the beginning. It's a weighty concept directed by co-producers John Carter Cash and Lynn's daughter Patsy Lynn Reynolds, two scions of country royalty keenly aware of the nuances of legacy and tradition. Cash and Reynolds began recording Lynn back in 2007, stockpiling hundreds of songs in the ensuing eight years. Full Circle is culled from those sessions, and while there certainly must be many equally compelling tunes lying in the vaults, the album benefits from its canny construction, touching upon so many aspects of Lynn's multi-faceted art without lingering on any single part. One of the record's attributes is its clean, simple sound. Spare but never skeletal, the record feels intimate but never haunted; it feels as if Lynn is playing songs for old friends in her living room, relying on beloved tunes and well-told stories. If there's possibly a slight contrivance in the reliance on songs about death -- good as they are, "Who's Gonna Miss Me?" and "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" put perhaps too fine a point upon her eventual passing -- these clear-eyed ruminations never feel ghoulish due to that straight-ahead sound. As produced by her daughter and family friend, Lynn is in good, trusting hands who wish to present her at her best and, more or less, that's precisely what Full Circle offers. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released February 29, 2016 | Shami Media Group

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Country - Released March 1, 2011 | Time-Life Music

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Country - Released February 14, 2011 | Humphead Records

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Country - Released January 1, 2006 | Universal Music

Add Gold to the running list of Loretta Lynn best-of compilations issued by MCA Nashville during the early 2000s, a list also including The Definitive Collection (2005), All Time Greatest Hits (2002), and 20th Century Masters (2001), as well as holiday and inspirational collections (20th Century Masters -- The Christmas Collection [2005] and The Gospel Spirit [2004], respectively). Obviously, MCA Nashville is doing its best to monetize Lynn's rich back catalog, as each of these successive releases is a bit more complete than its predecessor. Gold is the first to expand its reach to a second disc, encompassing 39 songs spanning 35 years, from 1960 to 1995. Truth be told, The Definitive Collection was plenty definitive, cramming 25 of Lynn's absolute biggest hits onto one disc. And while its time line was a bit shorter, from 1964 to 1979, without question those were Lynn's peak years. So if you're a thrifty consumer who wants to maximize your economy, stick with The Definitive Collection. You'll be mighty satisfied. On the other hand, if you don't mind spending a little extra money, Gold does paint a fuller picture of Lynn's illustrious career. In particular, it includes "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl," a 1960 single released by Zero Records that is historically interesting, and it also includes a couple latter-day recordings that are likewise interesting historically. "Silver Threads and Golden Needles," from 1993, is a fun cover featuring Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, and "Country in My Genes," recorded in 1995 but not released until 2000, is produced by Randy Scruggs and is a surprisingly strong performance with lots of Lynn's trademark vigor. The latter foreshadows the sort of stark, traditionally styled production that Jack White would grace Lynn with several years later on the wonderful Van Lear Rose album. That 2004 album is about the only milestone of Lynn's career not represented here on Gold, in fact. A few more of Lynn's duets with Conway Twitty would have been welcome, granted, but above all, her solo career is well accounted for on Gold, a best-of that falls somewhere between a standard greatest-hits collection and a full-fledged box set. ~ Jason Birchmeier