Loretta Lynn - Topic

Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn Play

An old-fashioned tribute album through and through, 2010’s Coal Miners Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn was conceived as a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Lynn’s first single. The celebration includes country singers of all stripes -- mainstream vocalists like Lee Ann Womack, Alan Jackson & Martina McBride, and Faith Hill rub shoulders with the precise prettiness of Carrie Underwood and the rowdy Gretchen Wilson, not to mention such alt-country stalwarts as Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle & Allison Moorer -- and there’s room for rockers, chief among them Lynn’s latter-day patron Jack White, who lends the White Stripes’ 2001 cover of “Rated X” to the proceedings. The Stripes’ fellow Detroit rocker Kid Rock gives “I Know How” an appealingly greasy treatment, but “Rated X” is the most distinctive thing here -- spare and loose, it’s a genuine reinterpretation, a rarity among these 12 cuts -- rivaled by Paramore’s terrific stripped-down acoustic reading of “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man).” That the rockers wind up taking more liberties than the country singers isn’t much of a surprise -- they pick up on Lynn’s rebellious side, while the country vocalists play up the tradition, sometimes being so faithful they border on either the dutiful (Underwood’s “You’re Lookin’ at Country”) or sleepy (Womack’s “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl”). Despite these couple of dragging moments, Coal Miner’s Daughter is for the most part filled with solid, respectful versions of excellent songs and serves as a worthy tribute to an enduring icon. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Still Country Play

The coal miner's daughter carries the traditional country torch while managing to stay current; Loretta Lynn applies tried and true American heartache with some contemporary flourishes. Still Country features the country radio hit "Country in My Genes" and the splendidly bittersweet "Table for Two (Party of One)." ~ Zac Johnson, Rovi

Coal Miner's Daughter Play

Unlike the song, autobiography and film of the same name, the album Coal Miner's Daughter isn't a reflection on Loretta Lynn's upbringing. Instead, it's merely a standard, early '70s collection of originals and covers, all performed with gusto by Lynn. Coal Miner's Daughter boasts a stronger, more consistent selection of material than most of her other albums from the period, and contains a number of her classics, like the title song and "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl," plus a handful of lesser-known gems. ~ Thom Owens, Rovi

Who Says God Is Dead! Play

Considering the amount of conviction Loretta Lynn sings with here, no one has probably ever debated the singer about this album title. And buckets full of retro-kitsch aside, this late-'60s follow-up to Lynn's gospel debut, Hymns, nicely packs it in with dreams of the apocalypse, testaments of the heaven-bound, and several classic gospel songs. In addition to romping through "Harp With Golden Strings" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," Lynn really sinks her sanctified teeth into waltz-time ballads like "In the Garden" and "Ten Thousand Angels." Adding to these venerable selections, Lynn contributes a few of her own testimonies on the judgment-day narrative "Standing Room Only" and the title track. And for that ethereal touch, the Jordanaires bless the proceedings with their airily dulcet harmonies. Whether laughing or crying, partying or praying, this album should fit the bill if you need a break from Nashville's slew of cheatin' songs and other tragic tales of co-dependency. ~ Stephen Cook, Rovi

A Country Christmas Play

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, Rovi

Hymns Play

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, Rovi

The Gospel Spirit Play

Between 1965 and 1972, Loretta Lynn released three LPs of inspirational music, Hymns (1965), Who Says God Is Dead! (1968), and God Bless America Again (1972), and each of them made the country charts. This compilation selects highlights from those albums. Working with her usual producer, Owen Bradley, Lynn takes a typically straightforward approach to the material, which consists mostly of standards early on, with some more contemporary songs added in toward the end. She is usually accompanied by backup vocal groups, although only "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Harp With Golden Wings" credit the Jordanaires. On "In the Sweet Bye and Bye," she seems to be singing a harmony duet with herself through the miracle of overdubbing. The most interesting tracks come in the final six from God Bless America Again, among them the up-tempo "I Feel Like Traveling On"; "Gethsemane," which borrows its melody from "St. James Infirmary"; and "If God Is Dead (Who's This Living in My Soul)," a song to answer that famous Time magazine cover of the '60s, "Is God Dead?" Lynn, of course, would reply with a resounding "no!" ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

All Time Greatest Hits Play

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, Rovi

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Loretta Lynn Play

Like any record company worth their salt, MCA knows a good gimmick when they see it, and when the millennium came around, the 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection wasn't too far behind. Supposedly, the millennium is a momentous occasion, but it's hard to feel that way when it's used as another excuse to turn out a budget-line series. But apart from the presumptuous title, 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection turns out to be a very good budget-line series. True, it's impossible for any of these ten-track collections to be definitive, but they're nevertheless solid samplers that don't feature a bad song in the bunch. For example, take Loretta Lynn's 20th Century volume. Yes, there are some great songs missing, but what's here is terrific, including "Coal Miner's Daughter," "You Ain't Woman Enough," "Lead Me On," "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)," "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man," and "Blue Kentucky Girl." Serious fans will want something more extensive and neophytes would be best-served by better-chosen collections, but this disc is quite entertaining, considering its length and price. That doesn't erase the ridiculousness of the series title, but the silliness is excusable when the music and the collections are good. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Country Music Hall of Fame Series Play

Usually including a sage cross-section of the artist's work, the Country Music Hall of Fame Series from MCA provides some of the best introductory discs for the country music neophyte. This time, one of country's undisputed queens is given the royal treatment. In fact, it's Loretta Lynn's prime stretch (early '60s to the mid-'70s) that's excavated here. The 16 tracks take in both the hits ("Coal Miner's Daughter," "The Pill," "Success") and the relatively obscure gems ("Wings Upon Your Horns," "Out of My Head and Back in My Bed"), with plenty of Lynn's powerful Kentucky siren songs to enjoy. Yes, that's right, "You're Lookin' at Country." ~ Stephen Cook, Rovi
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