Kitty Wells ‘Five Classic Albums’ 2CD (Avid Country) 5/5

Country roots singer, Kitty Wells, has exerted a profound influence upon later musicians and that includes the Everly Brothers. In the early 1950s when Wells was making her way as a singer, albums tended to be collections of singles with a few extra songs thrown in. An early hit proved to be, ‘It wasn’t God who made Honky Tonk Angels’, from 1952, but one major difference with the output of Kitty Wells was that she was not afraid to record often disconcerting and certainly socially challenging material. One such example was a song of the calibre of, ‘Searching for a soldier’s grave’, while she made a virtue out of songs about lost love and unfulfilled hopes, ‘I’ve kissed you my last time’, typifying the melancholic mood. On the other hand, country music did look to promote a cleaner cut image and that meant preaching good virtues, with, ‘Cheatin’ is a sin’, an example of the moralising tone adopted at the time. Invariably, the singers could not hope to live up to such high and exacting moral standards, and Wells reacted with, ‘I don’t claim to be an angel’ and even, ‘The things I might have been’. Excellent value for money with just under eighty minutes of music on both CDs and back sleeve discographical information enhancing the listener’s knowledge. This represents a fine introduction to the crafted work of Kitty Wells and is unreservedly recommended.

Tim Stenhouse

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