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Four years after her tragic death in a place crash at the age of 30, Patsy Cline was still one of the best-loved female vocalists in country music, and in 1967 Decca Records, the label that released the bulk of her hits, responded with this album, a collection of 12 of her most popular songs. There isn’t anything particularly artful about the way this album was compiled or designed, but Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits certainly delivers what its title promises: these were most certainly the most popular tunes Cline cut during her tenure with Decca, and every one is a stunner, with Cline’s rich, powerful voice gliding over the polished and evocative production by Owen Bradley. Cline and Bradley didn’t invent “countrypolitan,” but precious few artists managed to meld the sophistication of pop and the emotional honesty of country as brilliantly as this music accomplishes with seemingly effortless grace, and these songs still sound fresh and brilliantly crafted decades after the fact. This isn’t the most thorough of the literally dozens of Patsy Cline collections on the market, and it isn’t the best, but this was one of the first efforts to sum up her career in the years after her passing, and in 33 minutes it makes an airtight case that Cline was one of the finest and most versatile singers to ever step before a microphone. No small accomplishment, that. [In 1988, this collection was remastered and repackaged under the title 12 Greatest Hits.]
Born: September 8, 1932 in Gore, VA
Years Active: ’50s, ’60s
One of the greatest singers in the history of country music, Patsy Cline also helped blaze a trail for female singers to assert themselves as an integral part of the Nashville-dominated country music industry. She was not alone in this regard; Kitty Wells had become a star several years before Cline’s big hits in the early ’60s. Brenda Lee, who shared Cline’s producer, did just as much to create a country-pop crossover during the same era; Skeeter Davis briefly enjoyed similar success. Cline has…