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Qobuz’s experts gather all the essentials of each genre. These albums have marked music history and become major landmarks.

With the Ideal Discography you (re)discover legendary recordings, all whilst building on your musical knowledge.

Albums

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Country - Released September 21, 2018 | Capitol Records Nashville

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
More than eight and a half hours of music! Bobby Gentry absolutely deserves such a generous celebration, even though her glory years only really lasted about a decade. Retiring in the early 1980s into total anonymity, this great voice of the 1960s and 1970s is presented here in a deluxe selection. Across 8 records, 177 tracks are brought together: her six studio albums for Capitol (Ode to Billie Joe from 1967, The Delta Sweete and Local Gentry from 1968, Touch ‘Em With Love from 1969, Fancy from 1970 and  Patchwork from 1971), the record she made with Glen Campbell in 1968 and over 70 unreleased tracks including alternative takes, demos, BBC live recordings and all kinds of rarities! Hidden behind the mystery of her premature retirement and the cult following which has only grown with time remain these songs. Bobbie Gentry was more than just a simple country, folk and pop singer like so many others of her generation. Only Bobby could’ve written hits like Mornin' Glory, Fancy, Okolona River Bottom Band, Chickasaw County Child and most famous of all, covered the world over, Ode to Billie Joe, the fascinating story of the suicide of the mysterious Billie Joe McAllister who leapt from Tallahatchie Bridge. In France, Joe Dassin would go on to put a French spin on the song: Billie Joe became Marie-Jeanne and the Tallahatchie Bridge became the bridge over the Garonne…There is class, freedom and striking sensuality in Bobbie Gentry's voice. There are also brilliant arrangements and an instrumentation that line up perfectly with the songs, from slightly kitschy lounge strings (but they're so cool) to a simple guitar that clings to the contours of her voice. Bobbie Gentry was never fully country, fully pop, fully soul or fully folk. She was Bobbie Gentry. Full stop. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Country - Released April 18, 2016 | Light In The Attic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released July 24, 2015 | Rhino Atlantic

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Country - Released April 3, 2015 | RLG - Legacy

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released February 26, 2013 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio - Stereophile: Recording of the Month
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Country - Released January 1, 2013 | Mercury Nashville

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Grammy Awards
Kacey Musgraves could easily be contemporary country's next big thing. She's a sharp, detailed songwriter with a little bit of an edge, and while it's tempting to think of her as another coming of Taylor Swift, say, she's got the kind of relaxed sureness about what she's doing as a songwriter and performer that puts her closer to a Miranda Lambert. On her first nationally distributed album, Same Trailer Different Park, she definitely sounds more on the Lambert side of things, with a sparse, airy sound that lets her lyrics shine, and she'd as soon use a banjo in her arrangements as a snarling Stratocaster. From her debut single, the marvelous "Merry Go 'Round" (which is included here as the third track), Musgraves showed an intelligent, careful writing style that is as pointed as it is poignant, and even though the song seems to skewer small-town country life, it does it without malice or agenda, and is really more just telling it true than anything else, a trait that ought to be treasured in Nashville but usually isn't. Nashville wants one to tell it true as long as that telling conforms to the template, which Musgraves isn't likely to do. "Merry Go 'Round" might be the best song here, but there are others that are nearly as good, like the lilting, wise opener, "Silver Lining," the implausible "Dandelion" (one wonders how she manages to make such a winning song out of such a metaphor, but she does), and the gutsy (and again, wise) "Follow Your Arrow," all of which feature clear-eyed observations, unintrusive but appropriate arrangements, and a certain flair for telling it like it is and making it sound like bedrock, obvious wisdom. Musgraves has a sense of humor, too, and all of these traits add up to make Same Trailer Different Park more than a collection of songs just aiming for the country charts. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2010 | Capitol Nashville

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Same Train, Different Time is Merle Haggard's affectionate tribute to Jimmie Rodgers. Haggard provides narration between the songs, offering tales of Rodgers' life and music. While the album is rooted in the past, the key to its success is how Haggard updates these traditional songs without losing sight of their roots. There are contemporary folk, country and blues influences scattered throughout the record, adding depth to the music and proving that Rodgers' music is indeed timeless. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released August 11, 2008 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Gram Parsons fondness for drugs and high living are said to have been catching up with him while he was recording Grievous Angel, and sadly he wouldn't live long enough to see it reach record stores, dying from a drug overdose in the fall of 1973. This album is a less ambitious and unified set than his solo debut, but that's to say that G.P. was a great album while Grievous Angel was instead a very, very good one. Much of the same band that played on his solo debut were brought back for this set, and they perform with the same effortless grace and authority (especially guitarist James Burton and fiddler Byron Berline). If Parsons was slowing down a bit as a songwriter, he still had plenty of gems on hand from more productive days, such as "Brass Buttons" and "Hickory Wind (which wasn't really recorded live in Northern Quebec; that's just Gram and the band ripping it up live in the studio, with a handful of friends whooping it up to create honky-tonk atmosphere). He also proved to be a shrewd judge of other folks material as always; Tom T. Hall's "I Can't Dance" is a strong barroom rocker, and everyone seems to be having a great time on The Louvin Brothers's "Cash on the Barrelhead." As a vocal duo, Parsons and Emmylou Harris only improved on this set, turning in a version of "Love Hurts" so quietly impassioned and delicately beautiful that it's enough to make you forget Roy Orbison ever recorded it. And while he didn't plan on it, Parsons could hardly have picked a better closing gesture than "In My Hour of Darkness." Grievous Angel may not have been the finest work of his career, but one would be hard pressed to name an artist who made an album this strong only a few weeks before their death -- or at any time of their life, for that matter. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Country - Released July 3, 2007 | Epic - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released January 1, 2006 | Island Def Jam

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
It isn't surprising that Lucinda Williams' level of craft takes time to assemble, but the six-year wait between Sweet Old World and its 1998 follow-up, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, still raised eyebrows. The delay stemmed both from label difficulties and Williams' meticulous perfectionism, the latter reportedly over a too-produced sound and her own vocals. Listening to the record, one can understand why both might have concerned Williams. Car Wheels is far and away her most produced album to date, which is something of a mixed blessing. Its surfaces are clean and contemporary, with something in the timbres of the instruments (especially the drums) sounding extremely typical of a late-'90s major-label roots-rock album. While that might subtly alter the timeless qualities of Williams' writing, there's also no denying that her sound is punchier and livelier. The production also throws Williams' idiosyncratic voice into sharp relief, to the point where it's noticeably separate from the band. As a result, every inflection and slight tonal alteration is captured, and it would hardly be surprising if Williams did obsess over those small details. But whether or not you miss the earthiness of Car Wheels' predecessors, it's ultimately the material that matters, and Williams' songwriting is as captivating as ever. Intentionally or not, the album's common thread seems to be its strongly grounded sense of place -- specifically, the Deep South, conveyed through images and numerous references to specific towns. Many songs are set, in some way, in the middle or aftermath of not-quite-resolved love affairs, as Williams meditates on the complexities of human passion. Even her simplest songs have more going on under the surface than their poetic structures might indicate. In the end, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is Williams' third straight winner; although she might not be the most prolific songwriter of the '90s, she's certainly one of the most brilliant. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Country - Released November 14, 2005 | Arista

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
Given the tightly controlled nature of American Idol, it's a wonder that the televised talent contest has never produced a winner who specialized in country music, since there's no segment of modern popular music that is controlled tighter than contemporary country. Maybe this thought was in the minds of Simon Fuller and the rest of AmIdol's 19 management when they went into their fourth season in 2005, since as soon as fresh-faced Oklahoma blonde Carrie Underwood showed up in the audition rounds, the judges -- alright, specifically Simon Cowell -- pigeonholed her as a country singer, even if there was nothing specifically country about her sweet, friendly voice. From that point on, she was not only the frontrunner, but anointed as the show's first country winner, which apparently proved more enticing to the voters and the producers than the prospect of the show's first rock & roll winner in the guise of the Southern-fried hippie throwback Bo Bice. Which makes sense: cute, guileless young girls have a broader appeal than hairy 30-somethings. They're easier to sell and mold too, and Underwood proved particularly ideal in this regard since she was a blank slate, possessing a very good voice and an unthreatening prettiness that would be equally marketable and likeable in either country or pop. So, the powers that be decided that Underwood would be a contemporary country singer in the vein of Faith Hill -- she'd sing anthemic country pop, ideal for either country or adult contemporary radio, with none of the delightful tackiness of Shania Twain -- and her debut album, Some Hearts, not only hits this mark exactly, it's better than either album Hill has released since Breathe in 1999. Which isn't to say that Carrie Underwood is as compelling or as distinctive as a personality or vocalist as Faith Hill: Underwood is still developing her own style and, for as good a singer as she is, she doesn't have much of a persona beyond that of the girl next door made good. But that's enough to make Some Hearts work, since she's surrounded by professionals, headed by producers Mark Bright and Dann Huff, who know how to exploit that persona effectively. While some of the songs drift a little bit toward the generic, especially in regard to the adult contemporary ballads, most of the material is slick, sturdy, and memorable, delivered with conviction by Underwood. She sounds equally convincing on such sentimental fare as "Jesus, Take the Wheel" as on the soaring pop "Some Hearts," and even if she doesn't exactly sound tough on the strutting "Before He Cheats," she does growl with a fair amount of passion. In fact, the worst thing here is her chart-topping post-American Idol hit "Inside Your Heaven," which is as formulaic as the mainstream country-pop that comprises the rest of Some Hearts, but with one crucial difference: the formula doesn't work, the song is too sappy and transparent, the arrangement too cold. On the rest of Some Hearts, everything clicks -- the production is warm, the tunes inoffensive but ingratiating, it straddles the country and pop worlds with ease, and most importantly, it's every bit as likeable as Carrie was on American Idol. Which means that even if she's not nearly as sassy or charismatic as Kelly Clarkson -- she's not as spunky as Nashville Star finalist Miranda Lambert, for that matter -- Carrie Underwood has delivered the best post-AmIdol record since Clarkson's debut. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released August 30, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
If Shotgun Willie played a bit like a concept album, Phases and Stages was a full-blown one, tracing the dissolution of a marriage and devoting one side to the wife's perspective, the second to the husband's. If anything, Willie overplays his hand a bit, insisting on grafting the "Phases and Stages" theme between crucial songs to the point of genuine irritation. But, pretend that never happened, erase it from your mind, and Phases and Stages is easily the equal of its remarkable predecessor, a wonderful set of music that resonates deeply, as deeply as the words. Make no mistake -- the deceptively relaxed arrangements, including the occasional strings, not only highlight Nelson's clever eclecticism, but they also heighten the emotional impact of the album. And this is a hell of an emotional record, where even each side's celebratory honky tonk numbers (the medley "Sister's Coming Home/Down at the Corner Beer Joint" and "Pick Up the Tempo," respectively) are muted by sadness. Then, there are the centerpieces: "Walkin'," where the woman decides it's time to move on; "Pretend I Never Happened," perhaps the coldest ending to a relationship ever written; "Bloody Mary Morning," a bleary-eyed morning-after tale that became a standard; "It's Not Supposed to Be That Way," a nearly unbearably melancholy account of a love gone wrong; and "Heaven and Hell," a waltz summary of the relationship. Any two of these would have formed a strong core for an album, but placed together in a narrative context, their impact is even more considerable. As a result, this is not just one of Willie Nelson's best records, but one of the great concept albums overall. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released February 8, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released February 24, 2004 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Emmylou Harris' major-label solo debut quickly establishes the pattern that the vast majority of her subsequent work would follow: Pieces of the Sky is bravely eclectic, impeccably performed, and achingly beautiful. Amid a collection of songs that ranks among her most well-chosen -- ranging from the catalogs of the Beatles ("For No One") to Boudleaux and Felice Bryant ("Sleepless Nights") and the Louvin Brothers (the hit "If I Could Only Win Your Love") -- the record's centerpiece is one of Harris' rare original compositions, "Boulder to Birmingham," her stirring tribute to fallen mentor Gram Parsons. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Country - Released February 24, 2004 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
While Emmylou Harris spent much of her career carrying on the legacy of Gram Parsons, Elite Hotel ranks among her most overt tributes to his genius, thanks to its covers of the Flying Burrito Brothers' "Sin City" and "Wheels," along with "Ooh Las Vegas" from the Grievous Angel album. In addition to the usual eclectic mix of covers -- which includes the Beatles' "Here, There and Everywhere" and Hank Williams' "Jambalaya" this time out -- Elite Hotel offers renditions of the country perennials "Together Again" and "Sweet Dreams," which were, respectively, Harris' first two number one chart hits. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Country - Released March 25, 2003 | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

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Country - Released January 1, 2003 | American Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Unearthed is, before anything else, a monolith. It's a whopping five CDs of material, four of which are previously unreleased. The first three are outtakes from the four American Recordings albums Johnny Cash recorded with producer Rick Rubin. Disc four is an entirely new album of gospel songs Cash recorded from his mother's hymnal around the time of American III: Solitary Man. The final disc is a compilation drawn from the released albums. It was planned as a tenth anniversary celebration of the Cash and Rubin collaboration that began in 1992, while they were working on a fifth album. It is, effectively, the last will and testament from country music's grandest and most towering and enduring figure, Hank Williams not withstanding. The box was finished and the final mixes were sent to Cash, though he died before they arrived. During Cash's tenure with American Recordings that began in 1992, he and Rubin would cut anywhere between 40 and 80 songs for each record; for the first one they recorded over 100. Disc one, entitled "Who's Gonna Cry," features Cash singing unaccompanied as he did on American Recordings, his debut for the label. Discs two and three -- entitled "Trouble in Mind" and "Redemption Songs," respectively -- come from the material recorded for the other three and are collaborations with singers such as Nick Cave, Glen Campbell, Fiona Apple, Tom Petty, Joe Strummer, and Carl Perkins, as well as other musicians who include Norman Blake, the Heartbreakers, the rhythm section for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smokey Hormel, the Red Devils, John Carter Cash, as well as Laura and Rosanne and Cowboy Jack Clement. There are also alternate takes of some material used on the recordings with different accompaniment, including a voice and acoustic guitar read of "When the Man Comes Around." Between-track banter is abundant, as is the humor. While the majority of this material is terrific, and arguably some of it could have been used interchangeably with what was released, there are tracks that were experiments that don't quite measure up, though they remain examples of the Man in Black at his most inspired. The reading of "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is a case in point. It is a classic country song that was defined by George Jones. Cash's reading, though honest, taught, and fierce, lacks the pathos and harrowing depth of the Jones version. Likewise, the duet with Fiona Apple on Cat Stevens' "Father and Son" just out and out falters. "Gentle on My Mind," with Glen Campbell, is obviously fraught with genuine admiration on the part of both singers, but it's obvious that the definitive version had already been done and this one misses. Likewise, some of the material from Solitary Man and Unchained is well-intentioned and passionately wrought, but it is obvious why these songs didn't make the cut. But there are genuine revelations, too, such as the solo acoustic treatment of "Long Black Veil." It leaves its previous 1966 incarnation in the dust. On this one, the song is from the heart of the lonesome, love-torn ghost, looking upon the woman who wanders the graveyard and weeps at his headstone. To say it is chilling is one thing; the fact that it opens the entire collection is nearly devastating. Cash's covers of Billy Joe Shaver's "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal" and Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" define the term Americana, and add great depth and dimension to the original versions. While a solo version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" was issued on Joe Strummer's posthumous Streetcore, it is this duet with Cash that is the most moving and clear -- and Cash refused to change the Jamaican patois in Marley's language. Likewise, the two versions of Dolly Parton's "I'm a Drifter" are both visionary, as is a sage read of Neil Young's "Pocahontas" and the shattering take of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times (Come Again No More)." Cash's retelling of Steve Earle's "Devil's Right Hand" gives the song an entirely different meaning. On the canonical material, evidenced by "Trouble in Mind," "Salty Dog," Jean Ritchie's "The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore," Marty Robbins' "Big Iron," Rodgers & Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone," and Jimmie Davis' "You Are My Sunshine," Cash sings with the authority of a singer who has inherited the legacy tradition he carries in the grain of his voice. But it is the fourth disc, consisting of old country gospel songs, that steals the entire show here. Most of these songs Cash carried with him most of his life. Many come from a battered and tattered book of his mother's; Cash offers a completely unadorned devotional reading of spirituals from the annals of his Southern gothic gospel experience. While some of these are closely associated with the African-American gospel tradition of Thomas Dorsey, Cash points out in the liner notes that these songs existed simultaneously in the white church. In these 14 songs, from the rounds of "I'll Fly Away" and "Do Lord" to the expansive "Where the Soul of a Man Never Dies" and "In the Sweet By and By" to the modern gospel classic "I Am a Pilgrim" by Merle Travis, Cash's conviction and complexity are everywhere evident. These are simple songs with complex emotions, and in his readings of them they carry the paradoxes of his life, from drug addiction to grace to social justice stances to reverence, humility, and the willingness to live the gospel. They are towering because of their vulnerability and their need to communicate directly -- with searing yet human intensity -- the revelation of the singer's held truth. Unearthed is a true best-of set: a collection of the finest tracks from the remarkable symbiotic collaboration between Cash and Rubin. The five CDs are accompanied by a stellar package that includes a 100-page booklet with brilliant and deeply moving liner notes by Sylvie Simmons. Her written portraiture of Cash in his wheelchair talking about the music here and his future plans is realistic, humble, and respectfully empathetic. In addition, each track on the set is annotated in the book by directly attributed quotes she gathered from Cash, and also from Rubin and the many principals involved in the sessions. One hopes that this is the last box of the recordings from American, because it is so fine, so brilliantly woven, and so soulfully presented with an ear to quality and vision that anything other than the assemblage of American V from the recordings already completed would seem superfluous, blunting the impact of this grand and necessary document. Here is the depth of the vision and commitment of Johnny Cash to song, presented elegantly and magnificently, a mirror image of the man and his myth. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Country - Released July 16, 2002 | Rhino - Warner Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Combining acoustic bluegrass with traditional Appalachian melodies (and tossing one contemporary tune, Paul Simon's "The Boxer," into the mix), Roses in the Snow ranks among Emmylou Harris' riskiest -- and most satisfying -- gambits. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2002 | American Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Produced by Rick Rubin, Johnny Cash’s legendary American recordings are not only among his major musical statements, but also its moving final will. Released in November 2002, American IV – The Man Comes Around is the last volume of the collection that was released while Cash was still alive (He passed away 10 months after its release). Using the famous “cover” recipe, Johnny Cash managed in this record to turn other musicians’ compositions, sometimes recent work, into his own unique style. Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and Sting are all covered, and when listening to Cash’s rendition of their songs it is sometimes difficult to recall their original versions. As usual, Rubin’s work on the soundboard is devoted to Johnny Cash’s voice. Caught it its last whispers, the voice is haunting, yet never morose.Indeed, the voice is key in “American IV”.  The material can bring chills (the video clip of Hurt is deeply moving and, after listening to the track, Trent Reznor proclaimed “It’s like I have lost my girlfriend. This song doesn’t belong to me anymore…”), Give My Love To Rose evokes a sadness that is a strike at the heart, and I Hung My Head expresses an innocence that is profoundly tender. Even when he deals with the classic repertoire of country music, many that he recorded in the past (Sam Hall, Give My Love To Rose, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, Streets of Laredo, Danny Boy) the Man in Black brings to his interpretation the sorrow and sensitivity of his dying condition, always with grace and dignity. A sad yet festive funeral, the record includes many featured guest artists: Fiona Apple and Nick Cave sing, John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Marty Stuart strum their guitars, old partner Cowboy Jack Clement pulls out his dobro, Joey Waronker abandons Beck and Air to join in the rhythm section, and Benmont Tench brings in an array of keyboards including an organ, harmonium, Mellotron, vibraphone and even a Wurlitzer. Music lovers from all over the world recognized what a masterpiece American IV – The Man Comes Around had been created, and its reception led it to be a gold record, which was Johnny Cash’s first in thirty years. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Country - Released January 1, 2002 | Capitol Nashville

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
With all due respect to the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, it took the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band until this album to come up with a merger of rock and country music that worked for both sides and everyone involved. The opening number, "The Grand Ole Opry Song," set the tone for the album, showing that this band -- for all of their origins in rock and popular music -- were willing to meet country music on its own terms, rather than as a vehicle for embellishment as rock music. The result, without a false or strained note anywhere among its 37 songs, was an all-star country project that worked (and transcended its country and rock origins), with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band serving as catalyst and intersecting point for all of the talent involved, who gave superbly of themselves. Not only did this album result in exposure to a new and wider audience for the likes of Mother Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis, and others, but this was the first real country album that a lot of rock listeners under the age of 30 ever heard. Thus, it opened up pathways and dialogue in all directions, across several generations and cultural barriers; the dialogue between Doc Watson and Merle Travis alone was almost worth the price of admission. © Bruce Eder /TiVo