12 Classic Country Albums Turning 30 This Year - Rolling Stone
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12 Classic Country Albums Turning 30 This Year

From Patty Loveless’ ‘Honky Tonk Angel’ to George Strait’s ‘If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’)’

Patty Loveless and George Strait

Must-hear albums released by Patty Loveless and George Strait in 1988 turn 30 this year.

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Cut to the chase: 1988 was one of the greatest years for country music albums in the genre’s history. Partly this was due to what Steve Earle dubbed “The Great Credibility Scare.” For just a minute, between the crossover peaks of the Urban Cowboy craze at the beginning of the Eighties and the arrival of Garth Books and his Hat Act companions at the decade’s tail end, there was a window when country record labels took chances on often rock-leaning singer-songwriter types who were critically acclaimed but, perhaps, commercially marginal: Lyle Lovett, Foster & Lloyd, Nanci Griffith and several others, including Earle himself. What’s blanked on too often these days, however, is that these latter-day genre rebels were accompanied by successful, square-in-the-mainstream, country stars — both young and old, New Country and New Traditionalist who were producing some equally credible, and often incredible, recordings. These twin trends peaked in 1988 when there were so many fantastic country albums released that, here, we’re recommending a dozen great ones instead of our usual 10.

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