Country, Rockabilly, Country-Pop, Rock & Roll, Traditional Country, Nashville Sound/Countrypolitan, AM Pop, Early Pop/Rock

Album Review

Brenda Lee hasn't been treated well by reissue culture -- no remastered albums -- and, excepting the Bear Family box set she deserved (and received), only a few compilations, like this two-disc set from MCA. Fortunately, Anthology, Vols. 1 & 2 (1956-1980) is all most fans will need to appreciate why Lee was one of the most intense performing personalities recording in Nashville, just behind Elvis Presley. But Lee had more power than Presley, and more control as well, and the two ranked nearly even in delivery. (Of course, Elvis received song material of a much higher quality than she did.) Her first hit, "Dynamite," along with "Sweet Nothin's," and "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home" rank with the best country/pop/rockabilly performances of the era. Lee could pull off bright novelties such as "Let's Jump the Broomstick" or "Dum Dum" with no problem, and add something new to a well-worn standard, like her bluesy, swinging version of Leiber & Stoller's "Kansas City," or the vocal jazz chestnut "You Can Depend on Me." As the later material here proves, Lee also excelled in the melodramatic countrypolitan mode; moving from teenaged exuberance to middle-aged reflection and resignation -- in character, of course; she only turned 30 in 1974 -- to bring across moving country heartbreakers "Johnny One Time," "As Usual," and "Emotions." The track selection is excellent, touching on every major performance of her career, as well as those she's best known for in rock circles: "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Is It True?," the latter a 1964 rock & roll hit recorded in London with Jimmy Page on guitar.
John Bush, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Jambalaya (On the Bayou) [#]
  2. Bigelow 6-200
  3. One Step at a Time
  4. Dynamite
  5. Little Jonah (Rock on Your Steel Guitar)
  6. Let's Jump the Broomstick
  7. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
  8. Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home
  9. Sweet Nothin's
  10. Weep No More My Baby
  11. I Want to Be Wanted
  12. That's All You Gotta Do
  13. I'm Sorry
  14. Emotions
  15. If You Love Me (Really Love Me)
  16. You Can Depend on Me
  17. Kansas City
  18. Dum Dum
  19. Fool #1
  20. So Deep
  21. Break It to Me Gently
  22. Everybody Loves Me But You
  23. Heart in Hand
  24. Someday (You'll Want Me to Want You)
  25. All Alone Am I
  26. My Coloring Book
  27. Losing You
  28. I Wonder
  29. The Grass Is Greener
  30. My Whole World Is Falling Down
  31. As Usual
  32. Is It True?
  33. Too Many Rivers
  34. Coming on Strong
  35. Johnny One Time
  36. Nobody Wins
  37. Big Four Poster Bed
  38. Rock On Baby
  39. Tell Me What It's Like
  40. Broken Trust
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