10 Classic Country Albums Turning 50 in 2019 - Rolling Stone
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10 Classic Country Albums Turning 50 in 2019

From Johnny Cash’s ‘At San Quentin’ to a gem from Jeannie C. Riley

Johnny Cash, Jeannie C. Riley

Johnny Cash's 'At San Quentin' and Jeannie C. Riley's 'Yearbooks and Yesterdays' are on our list of classic country albums turning 50 in 2019.

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Lists of the best albums celebrating 50th anniversaries all but inevitably focus on rock albums. Country music is almost always omitted from such backward glances — unless, that is, an act has been identified as “country rock” or at least has some obvious rock & roll connection. And even then (Hello, Johnny Cash!), the acknowledgment typically comes only sparingly. This negligence isn’t mostly because of any rigid genre segregation, either. Rather, it’s simply because many if not most of country music’s best albums weren’t recognized, let alone lionized, to begin with. Instead, then as now — and this tends to go double for women artists — country albums were dismissed out of hand as surely nothing more than being “hits plus filler” or “old-fashioned,” “hackneyed” or “conservative,” or any number of other hackneyed themselves country-music-aimed bigotries.

Just as with last year’s piece devoted to 1968’s best country albums, this 1969 edition hopes to reclaim at least a few of these overlooked country music gems.

Charlie Rich 'The Fabulous Charlie Rich'

Charlie Rich, ‘The Fabulous Charlie Rich’ (Epic)

Those who pick this as Charlie Rich’s best have likely never heard 1992’s Pictures and Paintings, and may also want to revisit Behind Closed Doors, but that only acknowledges the breadth and depth of a catalog that’s still not received its proper due. For sure, The Fabulous… was Rich’s first masterpiece, an album that warranted all those frequent comparisons of Rich to Elvis but that in hindsight also deserves consideration alongside beautiful bummers like Frank Sinatra’s For Only the Lonely and In the Wee Small Hours. The peak here, of course, is the country-soulful “Life’s Little Ups and Downs,” the song Margaret Ann Rich wrote about her depressive husband, the disappointments of his musical career and their domestic dreams, and their still-struggling-but-hanging-on marriage. Be warned: On The Fabulous Charlie Rich, that’s the happy song.


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