Collection: Essential Country Albums

Country, aka Country & Western, started off as "hillbilly music" and "cowboy music" in the 1920's. The Carter Family was one of the first groups to achieve widespread attention for a Country sound. Maybelle Carter created a distinctive style of guitar playing that influenced generations to come. Rural America found a reflection of itself in their songs. The yodelling of Jimmie Rodgers also struck a chord. Labels like Columbia and Okeh Records found success in releasing the early versions of Country and Folk. Bob Wills combined jazz an country in a style known as Western Swing. Bluegrass was developed and popularized by Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, and Flatt & Scruggs. In the 1950's Honky Tonk and Rockabilly became popular with artists like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Nashville artist Patsy Cline became a Country superstar in the late 50's and early 60's and set a new standard for ballad writing. In the 70's Country started to blend with Rock, Pop, and Folk sounds. John Denver was one of the most famous artists to combine these sounds. In the 1980's there was a return to traditional sounds, a backlash against the Pop style recordings of the 70's. In the 90's the industry swung the other direction and became a full on Pop culture phenomenon rivaling Rock and R&B in sales. This is a small collection of timeless and essential Country albums covering a wide range of styles.