When Ray Charles signed his precedent-shattering contract with ABC-Paramount in 1959, he was determined to make good on an early ambition to be the most versatile recording artist the music business had ever known.
Beginning to build a repertoire of songs that you can play comfortably is the first important step in getting started in the Country Blues. But once you've got that repertoire-building process started, it can be enormously helpful to become acquainted with the Blues in a more general, less song-specific way, learning the various stylistic pathways that enable experienced blues players who have never met or played together before to sit down and make music together. When you see that happen, it seems like magic, but it's really just a matter of their knowing and understanding the language of the blues.
Bear Family, the venerable German label that does reissue boxes of U.S. artists better than any American label – with the possible exception of Mosaic – has taken the cream of Kitty Wells' career and issued one of the most historically important collections in the history of country music. The Queen of Country Music is a four-CD box, with exhaustive biographical and session notes by Charles Wolfe that document, in their entirety, nine years of Ms. Wells career, from its inception through to its turning point and superstardom, the years 1949 to 1958; there are 114 tracks in all. Along with every major hit and B-side from the eras, the set includes classic original versions of "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," "Hey Joe!," "I Hear the Jukebox Playing," "Lonely Side of Town," "Making Believe," "Dust on the Bible," "The Place That Kills," "Right or Wrong," "Just When I Needed You," "The Great Speckled Bird," "Jealousy," and many others.
Double Cream is an outstanding series of famous country hits. 7 Volumes, 14 CDs, almost 300 songs. Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, LeAnn Rimes, Blake Shelton and many others.
Classic Country Music: A Smithsonian Collection was a multi-volume set of recordings released by the Smithsonian Institution. Released in 1990, the collection contains 100 tracks deemed to be significantly important to the history of country music.