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

$102.49

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 November 4, 1997 | Mercury Nashville

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Shania Twain's second record, The Woman in Me, became a blockbuster, appealing as much to a pop audience as it did to the country audience. Part of the reason for its success was how producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange -- best-known for his work with Def Leppard, the Cars, and AC/DC -- steered Twain toward the big choruses and instrumentation that always was a signature of his speciality, AOR radio. Come on Over, the sequel to The Woman in Me, continues that approach, breaking from contemporary country conventions in a number of ways. Not only does the music lean toward rock, but its 16 songs and, as the cover proudly claims, "Hour of Music," break from the country tradition of cheap, short albums of ten songs that last about a half-hour. Furthermore, all 16 songs and Lange-Twain originals and Shania's sleek, sexy photos suggest a New York fashion model, not a honky tonker. And there isn't any honky tonk here, which is just as well, since the fiddles are processed to sound like synthesizers and talk boxes never sound good on down-home, gritty rave-ups. No, Shania sticks to what she does best, which is countrified mainstream pop. Purists will complain that there's little country here, and there really isn't. However, what is here is professionally crafted country-pop -- even the filler (which there is, unfortunately, too much of) sounds good -- which is delivered with conviction, if not style, by Shania, and that is enough to make it a thoroughly successful follow-up to one of the most successful country albums by a female in history. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released November 4, 1997 | Mercury Nashville

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released May 18, 1987 | MCA Nashville

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released December 4, 2015 | RLG - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Of the three 2007 Dolly Parton reissues from Sony, Jolene is the most absorbing musically and the most problematic lyrically. A sparkling production creates a rich backdrop for both "Jolene" and "When Someone Wants to Leave" (both Parton originals), mixing acoustic guitar, country instruments (steel guitar, dobro), and light percussion. This tasteful mix, nicely spread across the stereo spectrum with Parton front and center, is a joy to listen to. Lyrically, however, these songs are a long way from Loretta Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man." Parton's female protagonists are downright pitiful, adrift in a world where a more attractive woman might take their man, where a woman cannot let go of a man who no longer loves her, and where a man is the "highlight" of her life ("Highlight of My Life.") Jolene, originally released in 1974, feels like a shot across the bow of the feminist movement, a reaffirmation that many women still liked the men to wear the pants (women, presumably, who listened to old-fashioned country music). This seems somewhat peculiar now, in that no one -- looking at her long, distinguished career and commanding stage presence -- would accuse Parton of being a weak-kneed songbird. Still, the music and Parton's vocal prowess are in top form on Jolene, and "I Will Always Love You" is one of her best performances (which is saying a lot). Like it or loath it, Jolene offers a fascinating snapshot of an era in transition, and captures Parton at the top of her game. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
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Country - Released June 15, 2015 | RCA Victor

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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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 January 1, 1967 | MCA Nashville

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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 October 24, 2014 | Legacy Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
On first listen, it's not unreasonable to think that writer/producer Dan Penn's 1973 solo debut, NOBODY'S FOOL, is a bit schlocky. The songs are there, but amidst all the studio bombast it's difficult to suss out the deft touch that Penn brought to soul classics like "I'm Your Puppet"and "The Dark End of the Street." To give up too soon, though, would be to neglect what is an ambitious, impassioned attempt to encompass the entire southern musical tradition into a single musical statement. Penn sounds not unlike "Suspicious Minds"-era Elvis on orchestrated R&B tracks like "Time" and "Ain't No Love," and while "Prayer for Peace" sounds like an interlude from a Southern-gothic rock opera, it's clear that Penn means every word of his plea. With the exception of a CCR cover, Penn wrote (or co-wrote) and produced the entire album, and is backed by a crew of Memphis's finest. As is often the case with albums by those who became famous working behind the scenes, NOBODY'S FOOL suffers a bit from excess, as if every idea in Penn's head had to be put to tape immediately. But the man's love of music (all of it: rock, pop, country, gospel, blues, soul, etc.) is so genuine and so blind to categories, one can't help being taken in by this quiet masterpiece.
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Country - Released October 3, 2014 | Sony Special Products

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Billy Joe Shaver slipped onto the recording scene very quietly in 1973. He was already heralded a fine songwriter by Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings, but even they'd recorded one or two songs of his up to that point. After the issue of this debut album, however, the floodgates opened for Shaver with the aforementioned trio and Johnny Cash himself recording Billy Joe's songs -- a trend that continued 30 years later. Old Five and Dimers Like Me reveals a songwriter at the height of his power, a songwriter who undersells his case via quiet melodic music steeped in Texas country, folk, and the blues. While the title track is best known and the most often recorded (Waylon based his entire Honky Tonk Heroes around that track as the basis for an album of Shaver's tunes), each of this CD's 14 songs are gems. "Fit to Kill and Going Out in Style" became an anthem of the outlaw movement, and "Black Rose" echoes the Band's "Cripple Creek" with its funky country shuffle. The old-time honky tonk blues of "Played the Game Too Long" features a Dixieland horn section in the middle, and "Willie the Wandering Gypsy and Me" became David Allan Coe's theme after "Long Haired Redneck." And "Low Down Freedom" is the most poignantly written song about what it costs others when a man decides he needs to be free. Shaver was a study in contradictions on this album and proved to be so in life as well. He was a big man on the cover, a rough and tumble farmer who liked his music hot and simple and wrote words like a poet laureate. His performances of his own songs have been derided in the past because of the supposed limitations in his voice. But though he may not produce the performance drama that some of his peers can, his versions of these songs are far more poignant than any cover version of them. Shaver has always possessed an elegant and humble sense of dignity; it's on this recording, and on each one that followed. Old Five and Dimers Like Me is a masterpiece not only as a genesis for outlaw country, but of American songwriting at its very best. ~ Thom Jurek
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Country - Released June 10, 2014 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released June 10, 2014 | Legacy - Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released June 10, 2014 | Columbia Nashville

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger perhaps is the strangest blockbuster country produced, a concept album about a preacher on the run after murdering his departed wife and her new lover, told entirely with brief song-poems and utterly minimal backing. It's defiantly anticommercial and it demands intense concentration -- all reasons why nobody thought it would be a hit, a story related in Chet Flippo's liner notes to the 2000 reissue. It was a phenomenal blockbuster, though, selling millions of copies, establishing Nelson as a superstar recording artist in its own right. For all its success, it still remains a prickly, difficult album, though, making the interspersed concept of Phases and Stages sound shiny in comparison. It's difficult because it's old-fashioned, sounding like a tale told around a cowboy campfire. Now, this all reads well on paper, and there's much to admire in Nelson's intimate gamble, but it's really elusive, as the themes get a little muddled and the tunes themselves are a bit bare. It's undoubtedly distinctive -- and it sounds more distinctive with each passing year -- but it's strictly an intellectual triumph and, after a pair of albums that were musically and intellectually sound, it's a bit of a letdown, no matter how successful it was. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released November 5, 2013 | Omnivore Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Omnivore's 2013 double-disc set Buck Em! The Music of Buck Owens (1955-1967) provides an interesting spin on Buck Owens: through a collection of mono singles, live tracks, alternate takes, early 45s, and other rarities, it tells an alternate history of Buck's prime years. If there's a hit on this 50-track collection, it's almost always in a version that's slightly different than what usually shows up on a standard greatest-hits. "Second Fiddle," "Love's Gonna Live Here," "I Don't Care (Just as Long as You Love Me)," "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail," and "Before You Go" are all in mono, there's an early version of "Ain't It Amazing Gracie," and "Act Naturally" is live, so they're familiar enough to not feel jarring and they do provide the core of a collection that winds up wandering into some pretty interesting territory. This is one of the rare comps to take into consideration, sides Owens recorded before he signed to Capitol -- or, in other words, before he developed Bakersfield and his signature train rhythm -- opening with the pure honky tonk of "Down on the Corner of Love" and the rockabilly swing of "Hot Dog." With these pip singles included, the birth of Bakersfield Country is all the more dramatic and, as this ends in 1967 when Buck & the Buckaroos were still riding high on top of the country charts and before Owens' stardom was slightly tarnished by the cornpone Hee Haw, this focuses directly on his prime, when he was undoubtedly the biggest country star in America. True, Buck 'Em! may not have all the hits and it may take a few detours, but those detours are picturesque and necessary for fleshing out what winds up as a potent portrait of Buck at the peak of his powers. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released May 30, 2014 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released May 14, 2013 | Columbia Nashville Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Released after a series of star-making, genre-defining records -- and her first new collection of songs since her 1969 Greatest Hits -- Tammy Wynette's 1969 album The Ways to Love a Man found her and producer Billy Sherrill at cruising altitude, delivering an album that easily replicated the sound and feel of Stand by Your Man. If anything, the album felt a bit too easy, as Sherrill began making his productions smoother and silkier, sanding away any of the lingering rough country edges that were on Stand by Your Man, giving Tammy's impeccably luxurious surroundings. It's an appropriate setting for the First Lady of Country Music even if it ironically feels a bit more pop than country, but the key to Sherrill's productions was how he made them grand and then singers like Tammy or her husband George Jones grounded them. More than any of Sherrill's other vocalists, Tammy seemed to slide into the soft textures of his productions, and nowhere was that sound softer than it was on The Ways to Love a Man, where Tammy comfortably covered Johnny Mathis' "The Twelfth of Never." This may have been the only time on the record that she sang an old-fashioned crooner, yet the album retains a romantic mood, verging on being a countrypolitan make-out record (which is quite befitting for an LP called The Ways to Love a Man and whose biggest hit was the title track). This sustained mood is appealing, even seductive, but the album is just a shade less compelling overall than its immediate predecessor...but that is a pretty tough yardstick to judge any country album, really. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released January 1, 1994 | American Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Stereophile: Record To Die For
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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
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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 July 16, 2002 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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