If it is true that every five years or so country music starts reinventing itself, adopting embarrassing pop affectations to reach a wider audience, then this compilation is the other side of the coin. For every mechanical bull/don't call it a fiddle, it's a violin/just put a steel guitar on a pop song reinvention of country to grab the big buck, about five or so years later it will reverse itself (read: traditional core audience begins to leave) and start making overtures to its roots, even if those "traditionalist" roots also embrace a countrypolitan trailblazer like Patsy Cline
. This collection cobbles together 12 tracks from the mid- to late-1980s neo-traditional (read: pre-Garth
) part of country music's history and, as such, has much to recommend it. Some of the old guard are still around, albeit dressed up in new clothes (Ronnie Milsap's
"A Woman In Love," Waylon Jennings'
"Rose In Paradise," the Oak Ridge Boys'
"No Matter How Much" and John Schneider's
"What's a Memory Like You [Doing In a Love Like This]"), but Roseanne Cash's
"Never Be You," Keith Whitley's
"I'm No Stranger to the Rain," Ricky Van Shelton's
"I'll Leave this World Loving You," Patty Loveless'
"Timber, I'm Falling In Love" and Restless Heart's
"I'll Still Be Loving You" are all signposts that a change was on the horizon. This was a musical change that looked both backward and forward for inspiration, and while the movement gave way in about five years to today's hat hunk-line dance climate, this scant collection still comes up with a nice selection from that period that reminds us of what country music sounded like in a pre-Garth